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.