Day #9 The Last Full Day in Bismarck

Sunday, November 27th, 2016 It was time to get over whatever the bug was that hit me. I had a major backup of mucus in my lungs. I had seen the small plane flying around over the camp every day I was there. It looked like it was spraying something. I had noticed people coughing a lot. Many complained of a sore throat first. I got very congested lungs. Maybe from the smoke from warming fires, maybe a combination. I stayed inside my room the whole day, washing clothes and packing.  The day got colder and drearier by the hour. It began to rain and by morning, this is what I saw out my hotel window. The white car is my rental.

 

I found out that Bismarck residents had made a big rally in support of their law enforcement on Saturday. I had witnessed no support in town for the water protectors. I had heard from people in camp that some residents had called the indigenous water protectors prairie niggers. I hate to write it, but I think that everyone needs to know the level of hate that has been ramped up here. This city has displayed bigotry, hate, and injustice to people trying to protect everyone’s water. The corporation (with help of Morton County Sheriff’s Department) has used racial hatred to turn the population of the city of Bismarck against any protest of this pipeline. What a clever distraction. The town did not want the pipeline to go north of them, upstream. How easily Energy Transfer Partners were able to re-route this pipeline. I do not think they ever really planned to put the pipeline north of Bismarck. I think the whole process was used to make one side feel superior than the other. Thus distracting from the real issues of safety, the environment, and clean water.

While I was sad to leave Standing Rock, I was very glad to leave Bismarck.

Day #8 The Sacred Fire

Saturday, November 26th, 2016 I arose early to participate in the morning prayer at the sacred fire. This was the coldest, most frozen morning I had experienced. It seemed that each morning since I arrived in North Dakota, the mornings had gotten colder. The morning prayer begins before the sunrise. Everyone gathers around in a circle. They say the circle is a very sacred symbol and the elders encouraged all to gather in a circle whenever gathered to talk.

An elder began talking about how some people were disrespecting the traditions and rituals. How they were being patient and wanted to teach allies who had sacrificed to be there. As the elder was speaking, a non indigenous woman began speaking out of turn, she yelled some profanity and she was escorted gently away. Everything is done quietly and calmly, even escorting someone out of the circle. There was singing and more explanations of how your heart must be calm and filled with love and forgiveness so that the power of the spirits can work. Another speaker spoke about coming challenges and invited anyone who felt they had to leave, that they should not feel bad, that they should go, knowing that their help and presence was appreciated. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. He was saying it was OK, go in peace. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon, we all faced east. The women performed the water ceremony and as they walked to the river, I walked back to my car and began to pack up.

I gave the sleeping bag to a guy who was walking by with his girlfriend who was mad at him for something, he rolled it up hastily and ran after her. I gave the self inflatable pad to another guy from Texas who was walking by, he said it would be very comfortable. I gave the blankets to a donation tent. I gave the case of bottled water to Grandma’s Kitchen. The morning was very cold, I was sad and feeling a bit sick, and it was time to drive to Bismarck. I was worried about going back there as I had heard reports of water protectors being harassed. On the way to the exit, I saw a guy who was a very quiet guy I had seen many times in Grandma’s Kitchen. He was in the road talking with a young woman. I stopped the car and told him goodbye, I was leaving. He gave me a jar of Himalayan pink salt. I thanked him and wished them both well.

The trip back was very long and I got back to Fairfield Inn around 12:30 p.m. I slept all the rest of the day.

Day #7 A Long Walk

*Note pictures and film from other camera to be added tomorrow.

Friday, November 25th, 2016   The only place to get cell phone signals is on top of a hill that they have called Media Hill. If you need press passes to film or have questions related to what you can photograph, this is the place to get answers. Oh yes, and maybe check your email. I actually thought that having the signals jammed was a good thing. Absolutely no one was walking around with a phone in their hand staring at a screen. Everyone was talking to others, connecting. I got up early, at 6:00 a.m. to visit the  portables and saw a stunning sight. The air was totally cold, the sky clear and I could see all of the stars and a sliver of moon. Everything was covered in a light dusting of snow.It looked like it glowed. I then went back to sleep in my warm sleeping bag and did not wake up again till 8:30 a.m. Everyone was already volunteering in the kitchen so, I decided to go visit Media Hill.

At the top of the hill, I asked a young man if he knew who I needed to talk to about taking photos in the camp. This was Johnathan who became my walking buddy. He knew all about photography with the digital cameras. I realized how old school I was. I know all about film, f stops and darkrooms.  Johnathan told me about how his mother and dad were also there helping out in the camp. His father is a videographer from Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother is a teacher.and was helping out the school at the camp. I told him about my idea of photographing people as we walked down the hill, then we saw in front of a tee pee a woman with an old tin-type camera taking the picture of  a man in full indigenous clothing. We stopped and spoke with several people gathered at that spot. I began to take photos and record people. It was all very spontaneous, many cars were coming into camp, many new people arriving, the day was sunny and getting warmer. An SUV turned the corner of the road we were on and I saw Myron Dewey of Digital Smoke Signals https://www.facebook.com/Digital-Smoke-Signals-38422799745/?fref=nf

It was his live videos that helped me to see what was happening here in Standing Rock, so I ran up to the SUV and gave him a hug and thanked him for his work in educating the world. Johnathan was now in full conference with the camera woman, so I began to walk down the road by myself towards the bridge. I wanted to get a look at that wall of military and police. I saw them on the hills watching me and other people on the road, I saw and heard the small plane and a police helicopter that flew overhead so much one almost became used to it.

I hung around the rope that was the marker strung across the road to show where you had to stop. If you cross the rope, the police think you are intimidating them. I stood there for about an hour looking at the beautiful clear sky and the surrounding hills and imagined if they were not there. That was my prayer.

On the way back to camp, my throat was sore, my back and legs hurt, and I was feeling very tired. The wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped also. I saw a group from Mexico had arrived at the front main gate and were doing a prayer ritual, blessing some supplies they were giving to the water protectors. Closer to the California Kitchen and my car, I saw a group had made a banner for the young woman, Sophia, who had gotten severely injured. They were asking people to sign it, so I stopped and signed with a good note for her and her bravery.

It was almost dinner time at Grandma’s California Kitchen and I was beginning to not feel well. I had been walking around all day after only drinking some coffee in the morning. The prayer was excellent and was all about the coming changes and challenges that were to be faced with prayer. No one wants anyone hurt. All actions need to be approved by the elders. Some people are going on actions that are not peaceful or prayerful. On this night, the tent was overflowing with people. I met people from Harlem, New York, from Canada, from Uruguay, from Mexico, from Peru, from Norway, from Florida. Yes, and my friends from Thanksgiving night came by. I sat talking with people till almost 12:00 midnight. We had a laugh about how it was wise to keep some toilet paper in ones pocket because the rolls froze inside the portables. It was now extremely cold. The temperature had really dropped in just a few hours.

I was feeling that the spirits were telling me with little messages that my mission was accomplished. I had brought the banner from my school that spread the news to everyone in my circle about this serious history making event. I had witnessed and recorded what this camp and this struggle for water is about. I had prayed at the front line. I had brought some food, medical, camping, and clothing supplies. I had helped out a little. It seemed like such a small effort. I wished I had the money for a large truck of goods to help, I wished for months, not just days to help. I wished I had the energy to take a million photos. But I came to a realization, it is not about the quantity, it is the heartfelt desire and effort of one person magnified by the thousands that are here. This will make the difference.

By the time I got into my car to sleep, I knew I was going to drive back to Bismarck in the morning. During the night, everything froze even inside the car. The blanket got wet from condensation. Luckily, I had an emergency blanket and kept dry inside my sleeping bag.

Day #6 Thanksgiving Day Spirits

Thursday, November 24th, 2016  I thought at night very hard about why I was there in Oceti Sakowin Camp. The area is filled with spirits. They are in the wind as it blows over the hills. One can feel that many things have happened here. So, the question was, are you ready to die for this cause? Because if you are not serious about it, you should not be here at all. I thought about how I was a guest, an ally to help others. They have always been here fighting to live. I cried this night knowing that if I was called to do an action, I would willingly go with a prayer and make the stand full of peace as many others have done before. There are some things worth dying for and water is surely one of them. In acknowledging this, I understood fully what everyone here is going through. I knew that I was there for the right reason. I had seen people crying, I had seen some people walking alone looking very sad. But overall, peace and hopefulness in the power of prayer hovers about over the whole camp. No matter where anyone is from, no matter what style or condition of clothes, no matter the language, everyone is united and I could feel the power in that and everyone comforted and helped each other. This is the front line of a very serious battle. A battle between peace and violence, between right and wrong, between the oppressor and the oppressed, between common citizens and corporate power. Every thought, every word uttered, every action must radiate the peace and love we have for each other and to the people watching us on the hills over looking the camp. There is no profanity at camp, no hateful words. One might be asked to leave if they are overheard saying negative things about others or swearing. There are children all playing about the camp and no one wanted to upset them. I heard about people being led out of camp for breaking the rules. Anyone thinking this is a Woodstock or some sort of hippy camp-out is very mistaken. The camps are sacred places for prayer, these lands are filled with spirits and people must respect those spirits.

Morning. I got up before dawn, it was overcast, frosty, and cold, and I went to the California Kitchen to help with breakfast. I helped clean the tent floor, it was getting muddy with the wet frosty footprints. I helped organize the service tables. There were already many people working in the kitchen getting the Thanksgiving food prepared. The California Kitchen is actually three tents, one central large cabin tent and two smaller circular tents at each end connected by swinging doors. The Central tent has all of the food on shelves, the food prep tables, and the wash basins with water. The rear tent has the stoves and ovens hooked to generators. The front tent has four tables and a few chairs for people to sit and eat. Someone had decorated this space with Christmas decorations and lights. There are service tables against two sides and here are where you can find condiments, utensils, plates, and cups. They had a lot of paper donations but were trying to be mindful of waste and use metal utensils and real plates. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own mug, plate, and eating utensil.

After breakfast was served, I sat and talked to people I met until about 12:00 noon. I met a film maker doing a documentary, a retired sailboat lady, Travis from a children’s school, a man from Bishop, California, a Washington State hippy dude who lived in a commune, a woman from New Zealand who was there with a group to perform a Haka, Nan, her husband, and two sons (pictured with one named Salmon). I also met two friends cutting the apples for apple pie and vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner (pictured). It was these conversations that later sprouted an idea.

There was someone who announced that there would be a raid on the camp. However, one of the security asked where this news came from. That a person should evaluate everything and not spread rumors that could disturb the peace. There are instigators and those people are quickly exposed when everyone is calm and connected and knows where to get the accurate information. Besides, no one cared what this rumor stated. No one was gong to leave.

I sat in my car to get warm and to write some notes. I fell asleep as I was writing. It was here that I formed an idea. These people are not protestors and rioters, they are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, grandmothers, cousins, nurses, medics, lawyers, teachers, farmers, vets, retired people, rich, poor, educated, wise, homeless, they are everyone. I met in this one day people from over 10 different countries. I met people from all over California – yes even a few from Sacramento. One must humanize who is here.

I AM……….        WATER IS LIFE

I took a walk to the sacred fire around 2:00 p.m.. This fire must not be photographed. You must approach it with peace in your heart. You must respect this fire as a spirit.I brought a gift of tobacco for an elder and a gift of the Water is Life stickers. I thanked him for allowing me to be an ally.  There were some singing performances happening and then I heard of buses that were going to Ft. Yates to a high school for Thanksgiving dinner. I knew the California Kitchen was going to be very busy and crowded, so I got on a bus. I met a woman from Oakland and a school teacher and his aunt. As we were going to the high school, the driver had the radio on and was listening to a football game. An announcement interrupted the game coverage, it stated “Important! There are rioters and protestors in town. If you observe any suspicious activity or see any suspicious people, immediately call the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.” Wow, I thought, I wonder who the announcement was talking about because I had not met any!

Thanksgiving Dinner.  This dinner was provided by Jane Fonda. It was very beautiful and there was a great deal of delicious food. The servers were all volunteers and youngsters from the school. There were cards of thanks from children all around the world that were hung on the wall and placed on all of the tables. Archambault’s uncle prayed and spoke at length about the connection with the land and water. How we need to reconnect and teach the young people. He also told a story about Sitting Bull. How he always said he fought to defend the women and children. He never fought just because he wanted to fight from hate. He always fought to defend. We also heard a beautiful canoe song from the Pacific Northwest. There were many thanks to the celebrities who helped the camp and helped with the dinner.

Dinner: squash, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, turkey, rice, bread, fry bread, tortilla, pumpkin pie. You are supposed to leave a little bit on your plate for the spirits.

 

 

 

Day #5 A day of many co·in·ci·dences

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 I went to a store called Scheels, they are like REI, and I purchased hand warmers, more warm socks, -20 degree sleeping bag, self inflatable sleeping pad, a small head lamp, emergency blanket, another rain poncho, cord, an all purpose tool, and a better backpack. When you spend over $50.00 there, they give you a free shirt and hat. I knew I was going to sleep in the car because I did not have enough money for a good tent. So, I did not go cheap on these supplies – it was beginning to get very cold here.

I began my drive and got to Mandan, the next town. I decided to fill the tank and as I got out the car I noticed a pickup truck in front of me. There were about 5 people sitting in the back! It was very cold and I said hello because I was sure they were going to the camp too. Yes! They were happy to ride with me. I had 4 people ride with me in the warm car and we all talked about recent events. It turned out that one woman was heading for Grandma’s Kitchen, also known as the California Kitchen, that has the best food! This is how I ended up at the California Kitchen for the next few days!

Oceti Sakowin Camp 

The California Kitchen: Grandma is an elderly woman who loves to cook. She organized this kitchen in the early days of the camp, determined to feed everyone who entered with good food. When you meet her, you love her, immediately. She is a very good person with a heart and it shows. I never saw her angry or frustrated, she was always smiling.  The kitchen runs on donations and volunteers. People volunteer to clean, to cook, to prep, to wash dishes, to serve the food. There are always way too many volunteers! Before every meal is a prayer. It is a prayer to make you think. How do you enter the camp with a prayerful heart? How do you serve others? How do you behave with other people? There is a very thoughtful prayer and a long one. So that you are not in haste to eat, you must think first. All elders, women, and children are served first. This was a theme throughout the camp. Woman, children, and elders are given the upmost respect.

After dinner, I went to the Medicine Circle Sacred Fire. There was singing and drumming into the night.

During the evening and into the night, there was a plane circling overhead. I could see the lights from the construction in the distance.

 

 

Day#5 Another Supply Run

Wednesday, November 23, 2016   I am making another trip to the camps today, this time equipped to stay a few days. There is a storm approaching tomorrow, but Thanksgiving should be clear. I will hopefully, post an update by Saturday or Sunday. I am pleading with all of my friends, please go to myfundme.com

https://www.gofundme.com/standing-rock-north-dakota

and donate to my page to support me in this effort on the front line. I am trying to help the very best I can and have already used up the money I came with and money that was already donated. Thank you for all of your help! Make calls, make statements of support!

Day #4 Recovering from Trauma

Tuesday, November 22, 2016  I have not gotten word from Ashley about more supplies. I will spend tomorrow making calls and writing letters. I have spent all of the money I had, so I have sent updates to the gofundme page –  https://www.gofundme.com/standing-rock-north-dakota. I will seek out any ways I can help the camp from here. It appears to be very quiet today as the violence of Sunday night sinks in. Recent drone footage today shows the construction continues.

I urged everyone who truly cares about human rights, civil rights, and the indigenous land and water rights to actively support the Standing Rock water protectors this Thanksgiving by contacting your local representatives, news media, government officials, and community leaders to demand that the corporation be accountable for all damages, to follow the law, and to stop drilling until the permits are obtained after a complete study is finished.

In addition: research about this issue. Be a critical thinker when you listen to the mainstream media give you accounts of violent aggressive “protestors.” This is a false narrative. I have seen it for myself. I have met the people in the camps. I have listened to actual accounts and witnessed live feed as events happened. Here are some alternatives to mainstream media networks.

http://www.unicornriot.ninja/

http://www.digitalsmokesignals.com/

I am posting this for those that insist what Energy Transfer Partners is doing is legal…

Dated November 15, 2016   http://www.motherjones.com

On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not allow completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) until there has been additional research into its possible environmental risks. This marks a temporary victory for the activists who have been encamped near the site of pipeline construction next to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/11/army-corps-dakota-access-pipeline-trump

 

Day #3 Oceti Sakowin Camp and the Drive back to Bismarck.

I met Ashley and her friend, both were still suffering from the night before, and we presented the Sioux elders with the banner. They really loved the blue color and how large it was with all of the students’ signatures. We were told to hang it on the front fence of Oceti Sakowin Camp. So, with another water protector, off we went to look for a spot. Class, know that your banner is hanging on the front fence to Oceti Sakowin, making history, supporting the water protectors here.

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It is not allowed to take photos and videos in the camp, but I think you can see that there are thousands here. As the day wore on and we came back later, there were even more people coming and beginning to set up camp.

This item was found by the banner in the tall grass, they said it was a coyote jaw bone.

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On the way to Bismarck to pick up supplies, we stopped at a pizza restaurant in Mandan, because Ashley’s friend was wanting pizza for days. It kind of broke the tension from the attack the night before. Both said their throats hurt from the mace and pepper spray, both complained of their skin still burning, and Ashley’s friend was very sore from the rubber bullets he took.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1G8I6XXFHuF8EV3u04v_bmwLt86OAHtDtAQ

We could still find something to laugh about, which is our strength.

When we reached the Walmart in Bismarck, I met Vince again. He was happy to see me! We also saw some fellow water protectors in the store shopping for supplies. All of the people in the store were looking at us like we were from another planet. I made friends with another employee, he was from Liberia, Africa. He said he had only been in North Dakota for a few months. We bought first aid items like saline solution, beef, bacon, a large turkey, paper, pens, and markers, . Also, greens, lemons, honey, apple cider vinegar, coffee, coconut oil, scarves, and toilet paper. Basically, items for the three major units of the camp; the kitchen, the first aid tent, and the banner/poster group. In addition, we bought tobacco for gifts to the elders. The tradition is, if you want to speak to an elder you give them a gift. Natural tobacco and sage is considered appropriate. The total came to over $300.00. I also cash advanced $60.00 for gas and purchased lens wipes, extra batteries, and the all useful backscratcher.

Then there was the long drive back to the Oceti Sakowin Camp. I got turned around in Mandan, used the opportunity to get gas, then found my way again. It is truly dark, the clouds kept the stars covered and I could only see as far as the headlights on parts of the road. I dropped Ashley, her friend, and the supplies off, then I drove the very long way back to Bismarck. I got home at 12.45 a.m. It had been a very long day.

Day#3 Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota

Monday, November 21, 2016   It was a cold somber day. I had been up all night watching the horrible actions of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and DAPL mercenaries, and National Guard?(really, our National Guard) firing on innocent civilians. I felt very worried about my new friend and how she was since she had just arrived at the camp that evening. I decided to drive out after making some calls, my personal finance stuff, and deliver the banner my school had signed. I left the hotel around 12:30 p.m. and it was a very long drive. North Dakota is a very vast landscape. There was a little blue sky peeking out from mostly a cloudy sky as I drove the roundabout way to the camp. This issue of roads will come up again. The main road 1806 is closed by DAPL and Morton County. Why? In order to protect the drill site and maintain an access route for delivering their equipment. What this means is that the bridge is barricaded and the route 1806 is closed. No emergency equipment can go straight through from Standing Rock to Bismarck which puts lives in jeopardy when and if there is a medical or natural emergency.  I had to take 94 north and go through Mandan, then take 6 south to 21 through Solen, then take 1806 north from the south to Sacred Stone main camp near Cannonball. The Oceti Sakowin camp is just a mile north of the main camp. What might be a 30 -40 minute trip is a little over an hour now.

Oceti Sakowin. Seven Council Fires. 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.

Oceti Sakowin – Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8309

map-of-bismarcknd

from: Google Maps

 

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I arrived at the Sacred Stone main camp. I was met at the gate and a young woman gave me an orientation about the camp. It is very beautiful there, overlooking the Missouri River. While we spoke a police helicopter flew overhead. I was told where I could drop off the clothing I had brought. I drove on down the hill through the camp. Everyone was fixing their shelters, I saw very many vehicles from many states of the country, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, to name a few. There are no weapons allowed in the camp – that is stated on a sign right at the entrance. Everyone entering is greeted and asked what they are there for. You are encouraged to be self-sufficient and bring something to share. However, if you have nothing, others will share with you and you will not be turned away. I saw two women at the clothing drop off and spoke to them as I gave them the clothes I donated. They said there would be a ceremony on Sunday and that they would be at the concert at the Prairie Knights Casino http://prairieknights.com/ in Standing Rock.

casino

I was given directions to get to the Oceti Sakowin camp and was driving when I got a call from Ashley. She said she would meet me at the gate with her friend.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1bSUk_5hCwcchIDkTX61Ax5IHagzvEMN_Ig

 

Day #2 Bismarck, North Dakota

Sunday, November 20th. I had to spend the entire day organizing and figuring out my technology. I had purchased a selfie stick, memory chips, a new camera and everything had just been thrown into my luggage.

As I was figuring this out, the cleaning staff came to clean the room. I opened the door and there was this guy in an old thin tee shirt and jeans. He talked as he gathered up the used towels and trash. He said he was from Florida and he was really tired because he was doing many jobs starting over here in North Dakota. He had no warm clothes. As he left I gave him a pair of waterproof pants, thermal bottoms, and winter gloves. He was so thankful. He did not have anything that was warm but now he had one less thing to worry about. I had purchased these items for the water protectors, but this guy needed warm clothes Now. In addition, Leah had told me that the camp had gotten many clothing donations already. Sometimes things just present themselves to you and you must act.

I ordered some new winter boots from Walmart and met Vince, I had to ask him where to pick up the boots. He is a Walmart greeter and has worked there for 10 years. He described how the snow does not come up as high on the building as it used to . He said they don’t have to plow the parking lot as often. He was a very friendly man who was very easy to talk to. He used to live on the rez but now lives in Bismarck.

Sunday, November 21, 2016  Evening: I was online with my Facebook friend Shay who had connected me with her friend from Massachusetts, Ashley Bays. Ashley was just arriving in the evening to the Oceti Sakowin camp and I was making arrangements to meet her afterwards so that we could go get needed supplies. However, it was getting late and I had not heard back from her. I was online at 7:30 p.m. as I watched in horror what was happening at the bridge. Here is the story as it unfolded and as I heard it from eyewitnesses – around 7:00 p.m. law enforcement from the other side of the barricade had sent over a flare that began a fire. Water protectors ran in to put out the fire. There were also water protectors removing some of the burned vehicles that was on the bridge in front of the razor wire and concrete barricade that DAPL and law enforcement had erected behind this mess. In the photos and video, the razor wire and barricade is clearly seen. People dressed in regular winter gear are not going to get over that wire. That is just common sense observation. Men dressed in full riot gear, helmets, and armed are not going to get hurt from a bunch of everyday citizens who are unarmed, some of whom are elderly, all who are untrained in military tactics. It is laughable and misleading to state otherwise what can be so plainly observable.

From Digital Smoke Signals/Myron Dewy

The background story, from some water protectors I spoke to, is that this was setup to be a distraction from the actual beginning of drilling going on at night behind the barricade. Without permit to do so, having been told on November 14th by the Army Corps of Engineers to stop, DAPL is beginning to drill and had brought in parts of the drill to tunnel under the river. A witness at the Sacred Stone main camp told me that at night they have begun to hear booming and feel vibration in the ground from the other side of the hill from the construction. So, a confrontation was staged to keep everyone focused on something else. A confrontation was staged so that there is an excuse to call in more military and more law enforcement – which is exactly what was done the very next morning by Morton County. Why on a Sunday evening? It became clear to me as I tried to make calls to TV networks and government offices about what was happening that all offices were closed. Here is the story about Sophia Wilansky, an unarmed water protector who got shot in the arm with one of the many concussion grenades being shot at the people that night.

 

I saw the water cannons being aimed at the crowd of people, I saw the smoke of the mace being sprayed on the people, I saw the people crowded on the bridge and medics carrying people who were overcome out to waiting cars and trucks. I saw people yelling and crying and hurting, I saw the officers laughing as they taunted and sprayed people. I saw a video of a man who had been hit in the head with a rubber bullet. I heard form witnesses who were there how it felt to not be able to breathe from the gas and the pepper spray. I saw an elder asking the officers why they were doing these things. I heard people swearing as they were hit or sprayed with mace. It was a total disgusting use of overwhelming force on our own citizens who are protesting an unlawful corporation operating on contested Federal land without a permit. As for fires – water protectors and medics quickly made small fires so that they could immediately warm people who were sprayed with the water. The water protector I spoke with said that he was freezing and stood close to the fire to warm but his waterproof pants melted, creating even more of a problem by his skin. As the medics and protectors made these fires to warm people, law enforcement sprayed those fires out and sprayed the medics. The temperature was 21 degrees https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/usa/bismarck/historic  To prevent hypothermia, these people doused with water had to be warmed. They were far from the camp and had to be warmed right where they were. The cowardly actions of law enforcement spraying people with water on a night with temperatures below freezing, and laughing about it like it was a game is despicable. I was horrified. I was worried about people I knew were there.

More Information:

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2016/11/21/officials-defend-use-of-water-cannons-on-protesters-in-freezing-weather/

Listen to an Interview: http://m.democracynow.org/stories/16847

Guess what. We all need water and no one is going to go away. People will continue to pray, more people are going to support and arrive and write letters, and make calls, and demand justice for every injustice done. This is the message I got as I spoke to people in the camps. People are fighting for their lives and their water, nonviolently.