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.

 

 

Day #1 Trip to Standing Rock

11/18/2016  I prepared for bad, cold weather by purchasing thermals, warm clothes, and a down jacket. I purchased extra and large sizes so that I can give these items away when I leave the day before departure. I also purchased more memory for my devices and a better camera. I thought I had plenty of time to get packed, the car was not going to pick me up for the airport until 3:25 a.m. Ha, ha, no! I was not even ready and was just stuffing stuff into my bag as the car drove up. I had to get the driver to carry my bags from upstairs because they were so heavy with the winter clothing.

11/19/2016  SMF Airport: Every person there had their heads into their phones. I thought it was funny because I could plainly hear the announcement about keeping ones eye on ones bag being played over and over and no one was doing that.

I had to pay an extra $150.00 for the long banner because of its length and I had to check it in as extra baggage.

I embarked and as I walked down the aisle, I could see dawning fear on every face where there was an empty seat. Seriously. I was not being paranoid. I know I am a large woman, but really! It was not a welcome feeling. I am not that large that I would be spilling over into anyone’s space.  Change fear, more like horror. I had paid extra for seats with extra leg room. I had an aisle seat nest to two other women. I could see a beautiful dawn as the plane flew over mountains with covered snow. The two women next to me were both on a device throughout the whole flight, one seemed to be typing her dissertation on a tablet. No one spoke.

Except for a guy sitting directly behind me. Was it nerves that kept him talking? He talked throughout the entire flight. He was speaking to the man sitting next to him, but that man was not saying much as the other guy kept talking from one subject to another. The subject seemed to be “Things I Hate” because it was one complaint after another. The topics around this theme were; restaurants, travel, late and delayed flights, news, politics, and weather. I tuned him out until all I remember is blahblahblah and blah.

Arrived in Denver…and it was cold!  airport3

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https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LMyf61LbiKi5MDhs80wcq-TgaN4oc16pOg

**Notice what most people were doing in front and behind me! LOL  I felt everyone knew I was from California because I was the only one wearing a funny wool hat.

Bismarck, North Dakota To board the plane to Bismarck I had to first get all the way across the entire terminal and was very lucky that they have small shuttle cars that can drive you there! The man who drove the shuttle truly loved his job as he wove through people walking, honking his little horn. I sat next to him in the front seat so we began talking. He told me that he had been in the military, that he was originally from California, and he and his wife loved Colorado since they moved there almost 10 years ago. He also liked to dress up as Santa during the Christmas holidays as he drove the shuttle. This man truly loved his job!

people-passengers-riding-motorized-carts-airport-dia-den-denver-international-co-45420859Example of the airport shuttles.

After waiting for boarding, I discovered that one does not just walk down a tube to the plane door! No! I had to walk down two flights of stairs, then down a very long hallway in the opposite direction, then outside across the tarmac to a ramp up to the plane door. I was carrying two heavy carry on bags! Well, I was very glad to spy an attendant with a wheelchair who got me down the hallway to the plane ramp! It was cold, windy, and icy outside!

The plane was a small regional jet and I was really crammed in even though I paid for extra leg room. I do not think I would have fit into a regular seat! So, as I tried to belt myself in, (thank God for belt extenders!) a woman sat next to me. Her name was Leah Fool Bear and she worked for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. What luck! We began talking about what was happening with the pipeline, how people do not understand how the indigenous really feel about this injustice, how genetic trauma is a very big problem for a people who were almost wiped out in a genocide that the U.S. still does not want to talk about or acknowledge. Then we shared stories of our own experiences with racism, trying to raise a family, trying to be successful in a racist society, and what we hoped for in the future. I learned a great deal from her about what was needed in the camps at Standing Rock and what attitude one should bring when they arrive. If you are reading this Leah Fool Bear, I truly am glad to have met you and will keep in touch.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1h98oZpCcQRIhWmknjnY7Hsd6ZPyNzyR9Fg

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1lR7Cioxk2mHfqpAibczpUcssZX6sLGvBWA

Once in Bismarck, I picked up my bags and the box with the banner, then proceeded to pick up the car rental. The agent asked me why I was in Bismarck. I have never been asked this question during past travels and I did not hear him ask others in line either. I just told him I was doing nature photography.

The small SUV I got was a Nissan Rogue. When the agent gave it to me, it was already running. There were no special instructions…more later!

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Fairfield Inn and Suites: I drove from the airport the short distance to the hotel. I registered at the front counter and the receptionist asked me why I was in Bismarck. Now, this was the second time I was asked about why I was there, and again, I never heard her ask anyone else who was registering this question. I told her I was a nature photographer.

By the time I got into my room, it was 5:30 p.m. and I was exhausted! I had not had anything to eat, so I ordered pizza delivered and I spent the evening organizing my suitcases – everything had been just thrown in. Then blissful sleep! What a day!

fairfield-inn