Standing Rock Update

Standing Rock in the early months.Photo by Desiree Kane,
Miwok journalist/photographer who spent 7 months at camp.

Dear Catalyst Community,

Last fall, Catalyst sent me to Standing Rock in North Dakota for 5 weeks. I went to help hold orientations for the thousands of newcomers who were heart-called to this Indigenous struggle. We oriented an estimated 4,000 people, who filled the green army tents every morning to learn about how this fight is fundamentally about Indigenous sovereignty, colonization, and facing history in order to build a new path forward. I deeply believe what happened at Standing Rock is changing the path of resistance in this country – bringing renewed energy and consciousness about colonization and the centrality of Indigenous resistance to struggles across turtle island (the original name for North America within Indigenous communities).

Today is my birthday, and my birthday ask this year is to raise $3,000 for the youth who ran from North Dakota to Washington DC a year ago to draw attention to the problems with the Dakota Access Pipeline. The group became the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC). Since Standing Rock, IIYC has been inspiring young Indigenous people to become leaders in their communities, while also supporting the youth who were at camp to heal from Post-Traumatic Stress after months of facing police violence. Please join me in donating and supporting them to grow and thrive.

Some updates about Standing Rock:

A month ago, a major victory in court found that the rushed approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, issued just days after Trump’s inauguration, violated the law. This ruling opens the possibility that the judge could order the pipeline shut down, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is fighting for.

Meanwhile, the #DefundDAPL divestment campaign has been pulling billions of dollars out of the banks that refused to stop funding the pipeline. According to DefundDAPL, they have tracked $83 million in personal divestment and $4.3 billion in city divestment. Every morning in orientation, I would say one of our core principles: to bring the fight against the pipeline, and for Indigenous sovereignty, home. The divestment campaign is one way that many have brought it home. If you haven’t already joined this on-going wave of divestment, find out how to here.

Being out at camp was both beautiful beyond words and hard in ways I couldn’t have known. As an elder L Frank said, “Just because it was magic doesn’t mean it was utopia.” One of the things that was so troubling and traumatizing was the intense and constant surveillance by police from 8 states, the National Guard and multiple private security firms. In recent months there have been a number of leaks further exposing the severity of surveillance and repression. You can read about them here, here, here, here and here. Police are using these kind of repressive tactics more and more around the country–particularly against communities of color, and Left movements. Stay tuned for our upcoming pamphlet A Troublemakers Guide: Principles for Racial Justice Activists in the Face of State Repression, for more on how to build a culture of resistance.

The hope is that Standing Rock is but a spark, a spark that lights 100 more fires. That Standing Rock spreads – that we bring it home. Let’s support the International Indigenous Youth Council in building the kind of Indigenous youth leadership that we need to lead the way for the next seven generations, for the next seven Standing Rocks.

With deep love in my heart,

Oceti Sakowin camp, Standing Rock as winter rolled in. Photo by Desiree Kane.