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.

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