Hello readers, I just had the most amazing blessed experience in going to Standing Rock. I just came back and am so glad I got to go be apart of this historical and beautiful time in history.
So how did I find out about Standing Rock and how did I get there?
Well if you have been reading my previous blog posts on Standing Rock then you know I have been following and contributing to this movement since back in August when the first youth runners ran 1,800 miles to DC to bring a petition to the Army Corps of Engineers and then did a rally/ceremony in front of the White House. I went to another rally in September where I met Jasilyn Charger and Bernie talked in front of the White House.After that my mom got really into the movement and we started to donate to Standing Rock a lot. In September we sent our first batch out on a big yellow school bus with our friend Mangy White Bushman who helps run Charm City Farms who was going out in the beginning of October. Then we started a planning group in the DMV to do a concert with my sister Maimouna Youssef and other artist which hasn’t come to yet but hopefully will soon. Then my mom and I did a donation day in DC October 29th with Mangy which we got a few donations.
What got us to Standing Rock was my sis Maimouna and her mother Mama Walks on Water were going there to sing in a benefit concert. They told my mom and she told me and we were like we’re coming with you. So we booked our flights scheduled for Thankstaking Day. Then we decided to get our fellow Ecohermans involved and a group wanted to come out too. So then my mom was blessed to find three sub zero green army tents for cheap on Craigslist and then one of the Ecohermana Angelica ended up getting some stoves donated to us and we were on our way. We also got Mangy who was doing another run out the same week as us to help us get our tents and donations out there. Caryl Henry Alexander our resident Ecohermanas artist made us some fabulous banners to go with us to put on our tents one for Ecohermanas and one for Spring of Light. Also Caryl Aleya Fraser and Holly Baker became the home team who helped to make sure we were all taken care of while we where out there.Later another Ecohermana Mama Olivia Hill came on bored who is a chief and brought deer and turkey and other food for us to eat. So we had a good little group from the DMV, Northern Cali and New Mexico. So we all converged on Standing Rock the week of the 21st-28th with many Ecohermanas with us in spirit from the DMV, Florida, Philly and other places.
My mom on Taking Action on WPFW 89.3 fm Nov. 22nd-http://wpfwfm.org/radio/programming/archived-shows
On November 23rd, my mom and I spent the night at Maimouna’s house and traveled the next day from Baltimore to Minneapolis to Bismark, ND. It took us about 3 hours in total. When we got to Bismark we waited a little bit with Sister Mecca one of the coordinators of the concert for Sister Yonasda Lonewolf the head coordinator for the concert to land. Once she got there with Brotha Abel Muhammed we jumped in the van and went to our hotel in Bismark for a night.
While we were at our hotel Jane Fonda the actress was at camp with her yurt having “Thanksgiving” dinner served for the protectors. We didn’t go get any only because we felt some type of way that “Thanksgiving” dinner was being served knowing the history of that day in an indigenous resistance camp. Our Ecohermana Penny Gamble-Williams and the Wompanog tribe sent their love for our journey and told us to Fast and Pray that day as it is the National Day of Mourning for Indigenous people in this country.
The next day we got up early and took all our stuff to the casino where we stayed the rest of the time we were there. Then we got back in the van and went on the artist tour of Standing Rock where they took the artist to see important sites so they don’t just come for the concert and leave.
First we made our way to the Oceti Sakowin camp and on the way my mom and Mama Walks on Water got out of the car and did some prayers on the path of the pipeline. They were praying and then some guys in big pick up trucks came and stoped and looked at them praying and then a van of indiginious folks came by and prayed and stayed there as protection for them just encase something happened.
Once we got to camp which is like 15 mins away from the casino we walked around the camp and saw how everything operates. When you first come into the camp you will be asked who you are and why you are there, then you’ll see flag row which is all the nations and organizations flag who have been there. You will see a bunch of tipis, yurts, and tents plus cars, trucks, RVs and buses. We then passed by the sacred fire and the check ins that happen everyday at 9 am after they have a sacred water ceremony by the river. Then we made our way up to media or Facebook hill where everyone can use their phone networks and check social media. While you are at the camp you must go up this hill and get permission to take photos and videos by getting a press badge. We then talked to a guy who was there on the night of November 18th when they sprayed the water canons, bear mace and percussion grenades. *FYI: Bear Mace is different then regular mace as this kind gets into your skin and burns from within*
After we got to check out the camp we went over to the Sitting Bull Memorial. The Standing Rock Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people are decedents of Sitting Bull. We took a bunch of pictures and videos there and learned his history.
This is the story of Sitting Bull.
After that we went over to Standing Rock High School where one of the tribal council members talked to us about the Standing Rock Tribe and what us being there meant to him and the tribe. Then some of the little kids from the tribe did a jingle and fancy dance for us and afterwords we did a round dance. Later we went into town and ate lunch/dinner before going back to the high school for part one of the two day benefit concert. Maimouna and myself only saw part of it before going back to the casino to get some rest. The artist who played this first night were: Reve Kalell, Renee Gardner, Stuart James, Supreme Flows, Marielleall Schwang, Terrence Jade, Reyes, Hellnback, Lyla June, Tall Paul and Supaman.
While my mom and I were doing things with Maimouna and the other artist, in Bismark Angela Adrar, Linda Velarde and a few other Ecohermanas and Climate Justice Alliance folks did a peaceful action at a Target. What went down is a example of Police Brutality at work. They went to Target on Black Friday to raise awareness of what is going on in the camps and did a peaceful prayer circle. As soon as folks saw what was going on the cops got called and told the group to leave. With in 2 secs of our group being told to leave the police where all over them. They hit them with batons, through them to the ground and hand cuffed them. People in the store were glad they got mistreated, clapping and cheering on the police and of course the ones who did where POCs/women. A few people got arrested and were able to make bale but man. And this wasn’t even on Standing Rock land. From what I herd people got mistreated in jail too.
The next day was Maimouna’s concert so my mom and I spend most of the day helping her and her mom get ready for their performance. Maimouna and I caught the last little bit of the round table discussion they had with Matt McGorry from How To Get Away with Murder, Rev. Yearwood, a few other celebrity activists, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and a few of the Youth runners. They were passionate about this.
Afterwords we went to have dinner with our mom’s at the casino buffet which I can not lie was the worst food ever! My mom and I then met up with some of the Ecohermanas and CJA folks who came over for the concert. I also got to see Towana Yepa who is from the New Mexico Pueblos and is an amazing artist and mom who I got to meet in 2014 during my time there for Rooted In Community 2014.
Now I only got to see parts of the concert but the parts I did see where amazing. It was an inter-generational mix of indigenous & people of color singing, dancing, rapping, playing instruments and a mix of all of those. This night was the more star studded night with artist like Vic Mensa and Taboo from the Black Eye Peas performing. *Which by the way who knew Taboo was indigenous? I thought he was of Asian heritage but apparently he is Mexican, Shoshone and Hopi.* Other artists that performed that night were: Lakota language nest, Native pride dancers, Doug Goodfeather, Erik Andrade, Def-i, Desja Eagle Tail, King Wise, Duminie Deporres, Soufy, Scatter their own, Savage Family, Jasiri X, Darren Thompson, Quese IMC, Nataanii Means, Gabriel Ayala, Rebel Diaz, Malik Yusef, Radmilla Cody, Frank Waln, and Jackie Bird.
The other artists where great but what really brought the house down was my sister Maimouna Youssef & Mama Walks on Water. They started with Maimouna solo doing Inkpata a Lakota song sung by the women during the American Indian Wars as their husbands went off to battle. “Inkpata nawazin nasina cicoze maya maya leci ku wanna”
the words mean- “I was standing on a hill waving my shawl at you come back come back come back to me now” She then did some improving and said some jokes before going into a song her mom wrote about the Trail of Tears or the Longest Walk as some tribes call it. The crowd love it! They were hooping and hallowing because of the power of their lyrics and their dynamic voices.
This is the History of the Trail of Tears.
The next day was our day at camp. We went to the Oceti Sakowin camp which has become the main Indigenous camp with Red Warrior Camp inside of that one and then Sacred Stone is across the river. My mom and I went earlier to check out the camp. Our new friend and Ecohermano Trey gave us the grand tour as he had been staying in the camp all weekend. There is a 9 am meeting at the fire and also 2 pm direct action training. When the sun comes up every morning they have a water ceremony by the river. We first went to the scared fire and gave prayers with tobacco. Then we listened to the morning announcements and letters people have left with the announcers. We then walked around camp got some tea from the tea station which is were I had a pretty unfortunate experience. I and a few other indigenous/POCs had unfortunate encounters with non-Indigenous “security” around the medic area in the Oceti camp. He was very rude and didn’t even try to explain to me what I was doing wrong. Just trying to take charge like you running things. Yes I might have been there for only a few days and not known everything about camp protocol but I am indigenous your not so don’t go there. You could of explained it to me in a more fyi kind of way. You are there to help us not the other way around. This kind of thing is why we are in this mess in the first place and if you can’t come there and learn and go by what the first people of this land want you to do then there is no reason for you to be there because you are not the kind of help we need.
After we migrated back to our Ecohermanas & Spring of Light camp and then my mom went back to the casino to help us pack up our stuff. While she was gone Angelica, Lexi, Amanda, Mama Olivia and other Ecohermana went to the front lines where the women of Oceti Sakowin were having a peaceful, prayerful walk to honor White Buffalo Calf Women. You had to wear a white which they provided fabric for those who didn’t have a white skirt to make a wrap. It was the most special ceremony I got to be apart of while there. There is a bridge where the DAPL/Morton County are on one side and us water protectors are on the other. How you know you are on the front lines is there is a pile of burnt clothes on the ground and when you pass that you are on the “front lines” but there are burnt out cars that stop you from really going any further on the bridge. It was a ceremony filled with singing, prayers, and love. At one point during the walk we even yelled over to DAPL/Morton County workers “I love you” “I love you” which was wonderful.
This is the story of White Buffalo Calf Women and why she is so important to Lakota, Dakota people.
Mama Walks on Water and some of the other Ecohermana went to go pick up Maimouna where she was doing some interviews with Sister Yonasda, rapper Vic Mensa and a few others in a yurt with Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Once MuMu got to camp and had some food we went up to the road where the women were having a silent prayer walk to the front lines where they were facing the Morton County/DAPL workers. We didn’t go fully to the front lines but we saw the incredible spirit of the women of this movement.
After tying up a few more loose ends about our tents and such we had an impromptu jam session in our tent. Mama Walks on Water started off by singing a beautiful song and then Maimouna came in and sang with her. Then Quese IMC or Marcus came into our tent with his brotha and they sang some beautiful Pawnee songs from Oklahoma and gave us some amazing history on the Seminole people of Florida. It was an incredible experience!
Once they were finished singing it started to snow. This snow storm would accumulate to about 18 inches. So once it started snowing we went over to the cars to leave so we wouldn’t get stuck in the snow. You should of seen camp at night with the snow falling it was so beautiful. Sadly most people there were not prepared for the winter and where stuck in summer tents. Once we got out of camp it had started to snow a little harder as we made our way back to the casino to grab our luggage and then we traveled back to Bismark to stay the night before we were to get on an airplane at 6:30 am. So our beautiful drivers Tiffany Baker and Marilyn Fox two Lakota women took us to our hotel which felt like it took 2 hours just due to so much snow level and the long dark roads we had to go down. We had beautiful conversations in the car and those ladies are amazing. Once we finally got to our hotel we slept for a couple hours and then got up to make one of the longest journeys to get home ever.
While we were at camp that day back in DC Dave Mathews Band had a Standing Rock Benefit Concert and at the casino in ND another benefit concert was happening featuring Jackson Brown and John Trudell’s band, Jason Maraz among other artist.
We all got up at 4 to get to the airport which if you know the Bismark airport it is super tiny it’s only two levels. So we get to the airport and right away they give my mom a hard time due to her ticket not having the same exact name as her id. Now that was my bad when I booked her ticket and didn’t think about it due to the fact that coming to Bismark they didn’t give us any grief but now that we are trying to leave Bismark they wanna give us a bunch of crap. Anyway so they took at least and hour hassling my mom just because her middle name is not on the ticket trying to get her to call Delta which is who we were flying then call Homeland Security and then when they finally let her through they had to search all of her bags. They also wanted to search Mama Walks on Water’s bags to and do a private search of her. It was a bunch of BS really.
Then once we all finally got through TSA our flight was delayed. Now when we left the hotel it was “on time” even though they knew it was snowing and the probability of going anywhere was super slim. We were suppose to leave at 6:30 am but we didn’t board the plan until 7 am then we sat there for about two hour just so they could tell us to get off the airplane and that they had to fly in a new flight crew making it so the flight crew here can’t get home on time and not get paid.
So in the end we ended up having to wait at the airport for about 7 1/2 hours until 3:30 when we finally got on an airplane and made our journey home. While we were in the airport for all that time there were several racist people who kept staring at us as we were trying to figure out our flight and would stare at us or look us up and down and then wisper to each other about us. One of the guys in a family was wearing a red neck hat which go figure and even in their gift shop they have racist shirts and one that says “drill baby drill” or “oil country”. It was a very eye opening experience of things I knew about and knew was alive but had never really encountered in full force like my parents did back in the day. Unfortunately I got home and got sick and as I type this am still sick though I hear a few people got sick when they got back as well.
So that was my trip to Standing Rock in a nutshell. I had the highest of emotions while there and also the lowest of emotions while there. While we were doing the White Buffalo Calf Women walk on the bridge it was just so beautiful yet hurt me so deep inside that such beauty was being abused and mistreated that I started to tear up and a few tears were left there on that bridge that day. One thing I will say is you will never fully understand this movement until you go out there and see it for yourself. Only then will you understand why this is just so important for us all to stand up now in this time for this issue and all issues that will come up over the next while until we can come to a head where finally we can see peace among us all and respect for our one Mother Earth.
You might also be wondering why now and why this movement?
Well I have supported all movements since I was little but now that I am in my 20s I just feel this one so much more. I have always been very connected to my indigenous roots and I just feel like this is my time. A lot of young people my age know that this is our time to take a stand because our elders have already done their duty and it is our turn to fight. This movement also mirrors many other movements that I have been apart of or watched over the years from Black Lives Matter and the police brutality there to Palestine with their issue of land grabs and colonization to Flint, Michigan and their lack of clean water by the government and evil corporations to white supremacy in general.
Ok So I Went What’s Next & What Did I Learn While There?
Well I don’t really know for sure what’s next I would love to go back out there and lend even a bigger hand then what I have. The winterizing of the camp is the biggest thing they need help with at the moment so sending out more donations is a must. They also need more people in the camp due to the surplus of people in the camp while we were there for Thankstaking weekend but after that a lot of people left and sadly that made their numbers go back down. Also they are asking for a surplus of Indigenous/POC folks in the Oceti Sakowin camp to bring the face back to the indigenous resistance that this movement started with.
Locally I know of a few peaceful actions happening in the DMV. If you are local in the area follow DC Stands with Standing Rock Facebook page as well for more updates on events.
December 5th: Veterans for Standing Rock Stand In At the Capital Building https://www.facebook.com/events/179717355825743/
December 9th: March on Washington DC for Native Rights for 24 hours https://www.facebook.com/events/329623640754342/
December 10th: Standing Rock & Beyond #noDAPL March on Washington DC https://www.facebook.com/events/1696649317250421/
Also December is the National Month of Action & Prayer against #NoDAPL as set up by the International Indigenous Youth Council. Meaning that everyday in December they want you to do an action and prayer.
Oh and please divest from the greedy banks that have a part in DAPL like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others and put your money into a credit union.
Call, send letters, set up meetings with, rally in front of your local governors office, Army Corps of Engineers Office, Senators & Congressmen/womens and if your in DC the White House and Department of Justice office. Also get human rights activist out there.
Now I Learned A Lot While I Was Out There & While I Have Been Back So Here Is Just Some of the Most Important Things:
- 18 inches of Snow fell from Monday 28th-Wednesday 30th
- People need better equipment to help winterize the camps
- Please send tools, sub zero tents, sub zero sleeping bags, mats to go under the sleeping bags or cots, lumber, firewood, fire starters, food, medicine, masks to keep out mace for direct action, among other things
- Make sure if you are of female energy or look like a women you wear a skirt at the sacred Lakota ceremonies. Very Important!
- 5,000 Veterans have deployed to Standing Rock between now and December 7th where they will be human shields for the women on the front lines facing Morton County/DAPL
- The part of the DAPL that is set in Iowa is complete
- This thing called Bear Mace is being used on people which gets into your skin and burns it from the inside.
- If you hear any rumors you can’t verify please don’t spread them and make sure you fact check because Morton County/DAPL are spreading lies around.
- Don’t believe everything you have herd about the Red Warrior Camp as we met some of the guys from that camp while we were there and they are very nice respectful guys but they are young guys at the end of the day.
- Having the bridge blocked off is harmful not only to the camp but to the Standing Rock Rez and Cannon Ball community. Also the Perry Knights Casino which the main casino and source of business for the town and rez is not getting business as people can’t get to it as easily or to Bismark.
- Westley Clark Jr. and Kandi Mossett went across the line yesterday as the rest of the vets backed them up and they talked to Mouton County about the road block. Earlier yesterday the vets went on the bridge to pray as well.
- Some Cuban trained Doctors are coming to Standing Rock to help in the Medic tent 🙂
- Some homeless people in Bismark are being paid by DAPL/Morton County to pretend to be a water protector and infiltrate the camp with lies and they are paying them a hefty amount.
- I will put this out there one more time: While we were there we noticed that the indigenous people but especially the youth are getting sick and tired of “non-indigenous” people taking over this movement and also disrespecting the indigenous people of that land and of all of Turtle Island. Many times they would say how much they honor there allies but indigenous people must come first. Also I have seen video where indigenous people have said that “allies” have been singing sacred songs and changing the words to them and then playing the national anthem on a flute. If you are an ally PLEASE don’t be like that!
- If you can not handle the cold please do not come and use up the camps resources. There are other pipeline fights all over the world. There is actually one in Florida they are fighting as we speak called the Sabel Trails Pipeline with encampments there as well that needs your help. Also there are other water issues that need your help as well from the oil trains in Washington State to the water in Flint and many others.
- Oh and North Dakota is a RACIST, dirty, oil lovin, police brutality having, Trump supporting state. If you are indigenous/POC and are going to Standing Rock avoid going through Bismark! They truly hate our kind and they don’t hide it! It’s thick up in there! 🙁
How to Donate:
Follow this Media for More Coverage:
- Democracy Now! Amy Goodman
- Unicorn Riot!
- Young Turks Jordan Chariton
- Our Revolution
- Lakota People’s Law Project Report
- Indian Country Today
- Yes Magazine
- The Free Thought Project
- FB Livestreams
- U Stream
- NAJA- Native American Journalist Association
- AJ +
- Honor the Earth
- Indigenous Environmental Network
- Urban Native Youth
- Indigenous Rising Media
Petitions to Sign:
More Things to Know:
CALL THESE NUMBERS NOW! TELL THEM NO TO MILITARIZED POLICE & NO TO DAPL!
White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414 (call between 9-5 est)
Army Corps of Engineers (202) 761-5903
North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200
CNN Press Contact: 212-275-8030
FLOTUS President Obama
A Post from Cody Two Bears on Facebook : “DAPL Admits they won’t make the Jan 1, 2017 deadline to complete the project and they will lose 2.7 Million dollars a day starting Jan 1st and 83.3 million a month Aslong as this project isn’t complete. Also they will lose oil contracts Starting In January. Keep Praying My Relatives. Remember to Continue With Peace and Prayer..”
A Couple Post from Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network:
“TRUTH from camp: – Ladonna
Everyone dress in layers keep your feet warm and your head warm.
We need be ready for this weekend to stand together in prayer and resistance.
One of the things we need to stop is the wild rumors
1. No the Governor can’t stop stop supplies from coming to the camp.
2. No DAPL is not buying up the hotel rooms at prairie Knights.
3. No we are not being sprayed with chemicals
4. No little girls have died at camp.
5. No we did not kill 30 cows or buffalo with arrows.
6. No we did not shoot arrows at planes
7. No we did not throw any propane bottles at the police.
8. No there are no weapons at camp.
9. No one is getting paid to protest
10. This movement is not outsiders coming in. It is the people of the Native Nations who are standing with our allies.
11. No Morton County can not raid the camp, this is Federal land under the Army Corp of Engineer and the county police is under the county. They only can care for things in the county which is under the states and the state control the county which the state is under the federal government who control the state government so it would have to be an order from the president and that is not going to happen.
12. No CPS can not come and take the children from their families.
13. No they can not close down the school.
Remember we have DAPL employees in the camp to spread these rumors. If you hear anyone use the speaker saying these things run them out. Don’t allow rumors to control us we are standing our grounds. We must stand together as defenders of the water. STOP DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE”
How to Find Out More Info on Standing Rock:
Interviews About Standing Rock:
My mom and Mama Walks on Water on the Jay Nightwolf Show- American Indian Truths Dec. 2nd http://wpfwfm.org/radio/programming/archived-shows
Well That Is All For Now.
Until Next Time…Mni Wiconi- Water is Life!