Standing Rock: 1 Year Later- A Poem by Ayisah Yusuf



A year ago today I went to the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota to stand in solidarity and protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was a protest I had been big into since August of that year when the youth of the reservation ran over 1,800 miles to DC to give a petition to the Army Corps of Engineers and then did a protest outside of the White House. At that time I didn’t know anything about this protest or what was happening to the tribe so after finding about them coming to DC thanks to Shailene Woodley on Facebook I went down and protested with them. After that I got pulled full into this protest and it changed my life forever.

This is the story of Standing Rock through my eyes in the form of a poem. I hope this poem makes since and is well written as I am not really a poet but I tired. I want to give something a little bit different as I have written countless post about Standing Rock.

Also shout-out all these beautiful water protectors and more who were first there in the beginning and who made the call out to the world to start the movement.

LaDonna Allard

Bobbi Jean Three Legs

Danny Grassrope

Jasilyn Charger

Lauren Howland

Eryn Wise

Thomas Lopez

and all of the members of the International Indigenous Youth Council

Standing Rock

it all started with a prophecy 7 generations ago

that the youth would take over and become our new heroes

they didn’t know how and they didn’t know when

but when it happens they will do it with a grin

so when the black snake came they were ready to fight with prayer

when LaDonna put out the call the youth where there

they tried to do it alone but learned they were bigger in numbers

so they ran 1,800 miles from North Dakota to DC to bring the fight to more eyes

once on the road they were met with much hospitality and support

some even followed them to DC where they set up their fort

one petition and a round dance in the rain later the movement grew

and when they went back home they had a crew

indigenous and not they stood and they fought

they fought till the cops came with a plot

they arrested those who protested with smiles on their faces

but they didn’t know the youth had some aces up their sleeves

when the youth felt they were at a loss they knew at all cost they must fight till the end 

so they called on the youth for who they can depend to come stand together to use their voices for change

youth heard the cries and came in droves from all over the world to support

in a van, train, plane they came in big cohorts

as the months went on the battle got bigger but the spirits grew

protest popped off at banks world-wide divesting money and chanting “no DAPL” too

from August to September the numbers got larger

the fighting got harder but the message grew farther

but on September 5th they brought the dogs

turned them on the people as if they were hogs

they became blood thirsty for all the wrong reasons

what a way to end the summer season

while dogs came to bite

the protectors started to fight

and the police arrested one after another

in jail they were treated with disrespect

thrown in dog kennels and given no reprieve    

once the temperatures started to chill Sacred Stone Camp became full to the brim

the second camp kept people coming named Oceti Sakowin the seventh council fire

September turned to October turned to November

and your girl did some important work in the DMV

her and her mama donated grates full of clothes and food

attended protest & raised money to send with the dudes from Charm City Farms

then in the middle of the night of November 20th, 2016 panic struck

water protectors were sprayed with ice-cold water as they tried to duck

bear gas was sprayed in the faces of many

while Morton County was around in plenty

we then heard some family were going to camp

and we jumped on board to go spread our light

so November 24th, 2016 we traveled to Standing Rock

and spent thanksgiving weekend on lock

while there we visited the camp and saw first hand the unification

tribes and non-natives from all over together fighting for water

mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, grandmas, grandpa’s, aunties and uncles

all together they stood and they prayed

laid tobacco down on sacred land

I visited Sitting Bull’s grave and saw buffalo for days

then saw artist of all backgrounds lay down some tracks of resilience for the movement

I took a walk with the women in honor of White Buffalo Caf Women

we walked to the front lines and prayed for the police

tears were left and chants shared

the women are resilient, raw and bare

soon time passed and it was time to go home

but the energy shared will always be known

white snow fell on tents, yurts and teepees

they warned the protectors to get out-of-town all creepy   

once we got home more protest were had

till the easement was not passed in a last-minute turn

but our new 45 is Mr. Donald Trump

Chairman Archambault then told the protectors to leave

but the youth said stay if you can but go if you want

so we fought and we fought some more

till Mr. Trump came knocking on their door

come February 2017 the easement got passed

the water protectors where furious all though it wouldn’t last

once the snow became too much it was time to pack up

so the protectors started to move everything

before we knew it the last of the pipeline would be built

and the police came through camp with absolutely no guilt

they pushed them and made them leave immediately

putting fire and distinction to everything in sight 

the protectors fought till the end of the night

they then all went home to fight on their turf

so as the world watched the camps go up in flames that day

the spirit still remanded on the land & in the people

even though we know this ended unequal

and as the physical part is over

there is still so much to do

all over the country pipeline after pipeline

spill after spill

through bonds to our Mother we have all become kin

and where resilient we will win

so 1 year later I reflect

on a battle not yet won but the prospects are high

that we will fly and sore to the stars

to make sure Mother Earth goes far

so girls and boys, men and women and all those in-between

we must learn from those who have fought before us

plus keep fighting everyday until we gain our goals

because we all must play our rolls

for the water and the Earth for our family and our community

we take our bonds and go forward to protect the Earth for years to come

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

Other Blog Post On Standing Rock:

A Few Pictures from My Standing Rock Journey:

A Few Videos from My Standing Rock Journey:










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