My son and I traveled up to Standing Rock during the protests – delivering firewood, propane and food to the camps. It was an exciting, fascinating and even profound experience --- and each time left us wondering if we should commit ourselves to the effort. We considered moving to the camps to join the movement. The camaraderie, intent and strong sense of community and shared purpose were incredible pulls on us both. And then it was over. Where did it go?
As I consider what happened at Standing Rock last year and what underlies that truly incredible coming together of people from around the world, I do know that what happened at Standing Rock did matter and it did have an impact. It still exists even though the camps are quiet and empty now.
The Elders talk about water (“mni”) being our first medicine. And so, in the morning when I drink my first glass of water, I remember the word "mni" and pay close attention to what I am drinking and I remember what the Elders knew. When I walk down to the lake near my home, I notice now how many life forms this one small lake in the middle of it all , is nourishing. Insects, birds, those that swim and those that burrow in its banks – and the cattails, cottonwoods and grasses that grow around it – and the farmers’ fields miles away. The same fields where I buy my family’s fruits and vegetables.
In that way, it makes complete sense to me why 10,000 thousand people stood in front of the pipeline and said, “No more.” And in that same way, it makes sense to me that so many people slept, ate, and prayed in the frigid North Dakota winter for so many weeks and months to protect what we all depend on. My eyes were reopened, my body and Spirit reminded about mni at the now quiet camps of Standing Rock. And so, I stand grateful.