Salal + Cedar’s priest in charge Laurel Dykstra traveled to Standing Rock in solidarity with Sioux and other indigenous water protectors resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I am home again in Coast Salish Territory praying about how to be an accomplice to the work of Indigenous Water Protectors at Standing Rock, to speak only for myself but centre Indigenous and traditional voices. Greg, of the Cheyenne River Sioux was my host at Oceti Sakowin Camp. When I asked what I should tell people at home, he said, “Pray, keep praying.” And when I asked what they needed he said, “More people and more prayers.”
I am a priest but I have never been any place where they prayed so much—I averaged 5-6 hours per day in prayer and ceremony here doing things that most people think of as prayer—with special words, objects and actions. But prayer here includes healing dance on a critical river crossing that held off police and security, a sweat lodge on the pipeline path, sacred pipes in front of armored vehicles. Prayer is not a limp sending of good feelings that excuses your absence, it is practical and concrete. So, as Greg is calling for more prayers, you can bring them with bike locks to your financial institution that funds DAPL, you can head to your centres of government and law enforcement and invite them to sit down and pray with you and refuse to leave until they do.
Greg also called for more people, and to his call-out I will add these words from Kelly Sherman, Oglala Lakota: “If you visit Oceti Sacowin please remember you are a guest. Please remember it is not about you. Please remember the traditions and ceremonies you are welcomed into are sacred. Please remember your visit is not a vacation. Please remember some moments are sacred and do not need your camera.Please remember that sacred moment, that sacred time, will be a picture embedded on your soul. Not on your phone. Donations are helpful, social media sharing is helpful. But what Standing Rock needs is your physical presence. However, when you are there please remember if you do not know what to do, first you listen. Secondly, you listen. Thirdly, you listen. And if you do not know how to do that…stay home.”
The following website contains some good resources for non-indigenous people seeking to be allies and accomplices with the land and water protectors from Standing Rock and beyond.