Standing Rock: Women began Sacred Stones Camp as a prayer that the waters remain pure

This spring, in April, to protest an oil mega-pipeline running through their waters and a general politics of disrespect for both the Earth and for Indigenous peoples, a group of Lakota Sioux women from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe established the Sacred Stones Camp as a prayer that the waters remain pure. That began as a small group, which now numbers in the thousands, with solidarity actions across the country, from other Native Tribes as well as other supporters. When it looked like the construction of the pipeline might not be stopped, Lakota women jumped over the barriers and put their bodies in the way and on the line. This summer, Lakota Sioux women are making sure Spring doesn’t end early this year.

In January, with no consultation with the residents of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, North Dakota approved the Dakota Access Pipeline. Residents of the Reservation immediately petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a final permit. In April, the women set up the camp, as a monitor, because, despite lack of formal approval, construction on the pipeline had begun. In July, a group of Lakota youth ran from North Dakota to Washington to deliver a petition to stop the pipeline … to no avail. The Corps approved the permit … or so everyone thought. This week, it turns out that the pipeline developer actually does not have a written easement to build on corps property.

Nevertheless, construction began in earnest in August, and Native protector protesters launched the next phase of their campaign, which included peaceful road blockades. Then, on Monday, August 15, Native women stormed the pipeline and stopped construction. Since then, the numbers of water protectors on site and of solidarity actions around the world have grown.

From the beginning, the Lakota women, men and children have said they are not so much protesters as water protectors. As Iyuskin American Horse explained, “ From all across the country, tribes are bringing us shelter, food and most importantly, prayers. To have all this unity of tribes standing together in solidarity before my eyes is a beautiful sight. Our tribes now live together, eat together, and pray together on the front lines. We are not protesters. We are protectors. We are peacefully defending our land and our ways of life. We are standing together in prayer, and fighting for what is right. We are making history here. We invite you to stand with us in defiance of the black snake.”

Sarah Sunshine Manning added, “When I close my eyes, I can still see the mist in the camp in the morning and feel the power in the shaking voices of the women who stormed in front of moving machinery to stop the pipeline construction as they told their stories late into the night. Standing Rock has changed us forever. Our hearts are with the water, the land, and with each other. Today, we stand armed with the medicine of unity and prayer, and the strength of our ancestors. Still standing for water. Still standing for life. In so many ways, we have already won.”

Joye Braun has been in the Sacred Stones Camp since April 1 “when there was still snow on the ground. Now we’re getting ready for winter again. We’re not going anywhere.” While the women of Sacred Stones Camp, and the women who are coming from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and those coming in support, prepare for winter, they are also preparing us for Spring. Still standing for water. Still standing for life. In so many ways, we have already won.

If interested, you can donate to the Sacred Stone Camp fund at https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp. There’s a petition to stop the pipeline here www.change.org/RezpectOurWater

#RezpectOurWater #StandWithStandingRock #NODAPL

(Photo Credit: Unicorn Riot)