On this day that has been used to erase violence against indigenous people, I’m writing to you from Standing Rock, where Catalyst Project sent me for the last couple of weeks to support this critical struggle for sovereignty, self-determination, water and life.
In addition to people from over 600 indigenous nations who have been present here, thousands of non-native people from across this land have been coming in solidarity, and I’ve been helping with the orientation to camp that supports mostly non-Native people to think about how to come as guests into this incredible moment of Indigenous-led resistance, to be of service to the historical moment that we are in together.
Being here while the Dakota Access Pipeline is so close to drilling under the water is really intense. There is constant surveillance. By now many of you have heard about the vicious police violence that has been happening against the water protectors. Since the most recent violence, I’ve been a bit dazed, really angry, and heartbroken. I was out till 1:30am helping medics, a lot of people were very badly injured. I was up again at 6am to go back to help medics because I heard another call out for people to go to the bridge and I knew that meant more people getting hurt.
Even as I type this out I want to cry again. I’m so angry at the violence happening here. I’m rageful about the police and National Guard protecting a private corporation as they knowingly break the law and violate the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. This is what ongoing colonization looks like – police and military violently attacking an indigenous nation for protecting their own land and all of our water.
When we are having an action assembly and some of the Lakota elders speak only in Lakota to each other, with over 500 people in the room who can’t understand, it couldn’t be more clear that this is a struggle for Indigenous sovereignty. As we rally support for Standing Rock from wherever we are, it’s crucial to keep this central: The land that the pipeline is currently being built through is rightfully land of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, a sovereign nation. Honoring and supporting indigenous self-determination is the only way to protect this water.
I have extremely intermittent phone signal, but the glimpses I catch of solidarity actions happening all over the place is deeply inspiring. On this land that is so far from an urban center, it is easy to feel isolated as the police do what they want. Please keep up all of the support, and if you can, do and give more.
You can learn more at www.ocetiskowincamp.org, including immediate actions you can take in support here. You can make direct donations here or by mail to Oceti Sakowin Camp, P.O. Box 298, Cannonball, ND 58528. There is a constantly updated list of needed items here. Please contribute in any way you can, and organize others to do the same. We need to win this sacred struggle.
P.S. It’s incredibly important that as we support the struggle at Standing Rock, we are also connecting to indigenous resistance to colonization on whatever land we live on. In the spirit of that, we want to share this decolonization homework that Catalyst Project uses during the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program. And if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please support Ohlone self-determination by contributing to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, and by participating in the 17th annual “Black Friday” protest at the Emeryville shopping mall, which was built on top of a sacred Ohlone burial ground.
P.P.S. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, please save Monday, December 12th. We will be hosting an event on anti-colonial struggle at Standing Rock, on Ohlone territory, and for the right of return of the Chagossian people to Diego Garcia, where they were expelled to make way for a U.S. military base. More on this soon.