The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of tribes, allies, and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mini Wiconi (Lakota for “Water is Life”)
Frontline Reporting: Cheryl Angel Leads Women Procession for Silent Prayer to Backwater River Bridge.
Cheryl Angel, a Sicangu Lakota tribe member who has been at the Standing Rock camps since April, said she has personally seen what appear to be indigenous artifacts in the line of construction and that she believes the pipeline operators have intentionally hidden discoveries of sacred sites and knowingly destroyed them.
“It’s a tremendous blow to our history. They are trying to erase our existence,” said Angel, 56. “That’s a blatant disregard for our culture. That hurts when someone purposefully tries to erase you as people from … the land we’ve occupied for centuries.”
Angel said she suspected the state might be taking action against the company simply because there is now international attention on the conflict.“They have no choice now, because the world is watching.”
Police have responded to protesters in some instances with pepper spray, bean bags, and other controversial means, and used private security staff with guard dogs in one confrontation with protesters that included women and children. Amnesty International also reports that those recently arrested have reported being strip searched and forced to pay bail for minor offenses.Members of the media and legal observers have also been arrested or charged with minor offenses.
“People here just want to stand up for the rights of Indigenous people and protect their natural resources. These people should not be treated like the enemy. Police must keep the peace using minimal force appropriate to the situation. Confronting men, women, and children while outfitted in gear more suited for the battlefield is a disproportionate response” – Eric Ferrero, director of communications for Amnesty International USA.
Blackwater Bridge is the dividing line between the Water Protectors and Oceti Camp which is to the south of the bridge on Highway 1806. Law enforcement are on the north end of the bridge behind concrete barriers with military vehicles facing south. I was able to hitch a ride with strangers from Washington State and we joined a caravan of about one hundred cars to travel to the north side of Blackwater Bridge via backroads. We were spotted by a helicopter and were met by County law enforcement and several green and white US Border Patrol vehicles just short of the entrance to the north side of the bridge. To their credit they allowed the Water Protectors to hold a prayer ceremony on the highway without disruption.
On the way my fellow passengers were singing a Chief Dan George’s prayer song for safe travel into unknown waters – it must have worked because there were no clashes or arrest.
Frontline reporting, video and stills images with content available. Contact: Dave Banks email@example.com 818.399.3670
Frontline reporting, video and stills images with content available. Contact: Dave Banks firstname.lastname@example.org/818.399.3670
Water Protectors and volunteers gather at the top of a hill to find cellular service – two bars are outstanding and let me add that uploading images and videos is exasperating.
FYI: The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires.
The original Sioux tribe was made up of Seven Council Fires. Each of these Council Fires was made up of individual bands, based on kinship, dialect and geographic proximity.
Sharing a common fire is one thing that has always united the Sioux people. Keeping of the peta waken (sacred fire) was an important activity. On marches, coals from the previous council fire were carefully preserved and used to rekindle the council fire at the new campsite.
The Seven Council Fires are:
Mdewakanton – Dwellers by the Sacred Lake
Wahpekute – Shooters Among the Leaves
Sisitonwan/Sisseton – People of the Marsh
Wahpetonwan – Dwellers Among the Leaves
Ihanktown/Lower Yanktonai – People of the End
Ihanktowana/Upper Yanktoni – People of the Little End
Tetonwan – People on the Plains