|Chopping Wood||Stacked Wood||Kitchen Tent|
Youths from Pine Ridge stay at Standing Rock despite blizzard
RAPID CITY, SD – Young Oglala Lakota heroes - the runners from Pine Ridge who are the 7th Generation from Crazy Horse's tribe - were inside their tent at Standing Rock on December 7th. A fierce winter blizzard lasting for days continued to howl outside the tent walls with blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures. They were joined by veterans from Pine Ridge who went to Standing Rock last weekend and by four others who simply needed shelter.
To some water protectors at Standing Rock who have been there for months, the youths from Pine Ridge became folk heroes on November 2nd. That was the day they arrived after running hundreds of miles to Standing Rock to raise awareness and support Standing Rock in the Perseverance for Preservation Run started by Riley Ortega, a 15-year-old Hopi from Arizona. As Shane Phillips, one of the runners from Pine Ridge, said, "When I heard what that run was about, it put a fire in my spirit and I said 'Let's do it.'"
Today, despite the bitter cold and blowing snow, all of them remain at Standing Rock because they do not trust DAPL even though the Army Corps of Engineers denied DAPL’s permit to drill under the Missouri River.
DAPL pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners still contends the pipeline will go through as planned. Choppers are still flying over the encampment doing reconnaissance. Armed police still guard the drill pad that is still surrounded by razor wire.
Julian Bear Runner said this is a critical time. “They’re gonna wait for us to leave. But since 1492 we’ve always been here.”
So despite more blizzards in the forecast of a North Dakota winter, the Oglala youths are determined to stay in the camp at Standing Rock. They made their decision following a sacred pipe ceremony on December 7th during the last blizzard.
“I asked the Creator you know, ‘Have pity on us, have pity on the people,’” Julian said. “We must think like the buffalo nation. The buffalo faces the storm head first. I asked the Creator to give us the strength of the buffalo.”
It is a harsh existence. In the middle of a sub-zero blizzard lasting days at a time, they stay inside their tent with winds raging outside, no cell phone service, no internet, no contact with the outside world. Meals consist of whatever is donated. When blizzards make travel and deliveries impossible, basic supplies like food and firewood can become scarce.
But on Thursday morning December 8th, after their ceremony, the sun came out and the winds finally died down.
“See boys?” Julian said. “The Creator heard our prayers. It doesn’t mean you’re less of a man if you want to go home,” he assured them.
But they all chose to stay to protect the sacred water for future generations and to stand up to corporate greed in order to protect Mother Earth.
Then they discussed how they would return their van since it is the property of the tribe. The van is what got them to the Front Line and is their only means of transport.
Just then a truck with a trailer full of wood stopped and the driver gave them half of the firewood for their tent.
Then another truck pulled up and the driver hollered out, “Hey, do you need supplies?” He gave them some food left behind in another camp. A short while later he returned with a generator and food rations from some veterans who were leaving.
“Crowbar, they’re answering our prayers,” the youths said. (They have nicknamed Julian “Crowbar” because, they said, “if there’s a job to do he can figure out a way to do it.”)
Some other veterans had to leave so they drove the veterans over to their destination. The veterans were surprised and very appreciative.
“That’s who we are as Lakota people,” Julian explained. “Those values are given to us by the Creator on how to live our lives.”
He thanked the veterans for their support, “You came, and look:.The police left the barricade. The Army Corps denied DAPL’s permit.”
They spent the rest of Thursday chopping wood and being grateful.
Keeping warm is more challenging now that the temperature is consistently below zero. One Spirit provided a large army tent with wood stoves. The youths hung metalized blankets on some of the tent walls inside to help heat it.
One Spirit also provided sleeping bags that are good to zero degrees but not to sub-zero temperatures, and North Dakota’s wind chill makes it even colder. Another water protector leaving the campground donated five cots so that some of the water protectors are now able to sleep off the ground. More cots as well as pads under their sleeping bags would help keep them warm. So would thermal blankets. Hay bales to help insulate and secure the tent would be ideal.
Since most of the camp port-a-potty’s were removed when they began freezing, yesterday the youths began building a latrine. That is what is needed.
More blizzards are forecast this week.
Two weeks ago when Dom Cross was asked how people could help he said, "Just try to get our message out that we need more prayers. That's what's going to beat this pipeline is all our prayers - not fighting. When all our prayers go up and are joined together they can't be stopped. The more prayers there are, the stronger they become.” Then he added earnestly, “To me we're not protesting. We're protecting. We’re not just fighting for our water. We’re fighting for our next seven generations.”
(On Nov. 20th Dom was shot in the kneecap with a rubber bullet and then shot in the back with a bean bag round when he was helping injured women and elders get up. His hood was frozen to his head from the water cannons.)
Ted Feather Earring said, "What DAPL is doing is so bad, so very bad. We just have to stand strong, have to resist violence, have to pray for the DAPL workers that one day they'll realize what they're doing is wrong."
19-year-old Shane Phillips said, "I’m hoping that the pipeline will stop and that they understand why we’re doing this because it’s their water they’re contaminating as well, not just ours.” Asked about November 20th the boy who had dreamed of serving his country said, “Now I see how police can be. They broke their oath to protect and serve. Hopefully it will never happen again but - if it does - I would like to be there on the front line to protect the elders and the women.” (Shane was trapped in tear gas, water cannoned and hospitalized on Nov 20th.)
Harold Goggleye and Tee Iron Cloud
Tyler Feather Earring said, “I’m here doing this to save the future, to save water for the future - for the children of the next generation.” When asked about November 20th, Tyler quietly stated that it was very hard seeing women and the elderly being hurt by police and that he was feeling angry about that when it happened. “But I had to just let it go and keep praying, staying strong - so strong,” he said. “And hopefully we can stop this pipeline that we call the Black Snake." (On November 20th Tyler was shot in the arm breaking it, in the stomach bruising it, in the face knocking out teeth and in the back when his brothers carried him away.)
All of the Oglala Lakota runners from Pine Ridge were assaulted by militarized police on November 20th with tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, mace, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and concussion grenades. All were hospitalized. They were treated for hypothermia and every one of them was still sick days later from exposure to tear gas and toxic chemicals. Four or five had been shot with rubber bullets. But they do not respond with violence. Neither do they back down. They stand their ground. And they pray. For everyone. And for sacred water that is the source of all life.
Now with the onset of the winter blizzards and temperatures consistently below zero, most people have left the Oceti Sakowin Main Camp that houses the Oglala Camp where these young men remain. They do this to protect the water for all of us and for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. They appreciate your prayers and support.