Monday, November 21, 2016

Why did I have to "tell you so?"

This blog was first posted at on 11/19/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

"All indications are that labor has been caught unprepared for a President Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress and Supreme Court. With such broad control over every branch of government, Trump may be able to not only roll back many of Obama’s accomplishments, but also change the face of labor law for decades to come." - read more at Think It’s Tough for Labor Now? Just Wait Until Trump Takes Office in January

Remember that seat at the table? The frenemies? The support for #teachstrong? The #ESSA opportunity? The union endorsement of Hillary? And then the Bernie endorsement of Hillary? Remember? Some of you may even remember the most bizarre turn of events where it became clear that the new ed. activist mantra was compromise, and those of us who refused to negotiate with children's lives were suddenly labeled "purists." Remember?

Remember how Racist Relay "Graduate" School glided through in Colorado practically on ice skates (as it did in other states), and Teach Like a Champion Racist (hear plate hitting wall) had some "good things" in it? Remember how we've been screaming about the absolute racist practices in the public schools for years - specifically in our urban public schools populated by children of color - and we were met with silence? Remember how many children suffered and were abused? How many teachers left or were fired or their positions were eliminated - because ultimately the union did NOT have our backs? While certain individuals continued to sit around and "talk" about how we could "get a little" for our kids - and those of us who demanded MORE were labeled angry and just downright difficult to work with? Remember how we were ignored while arrogant condescending so-called power players kept hanging on to that seat at the table? Boy, I remember.

Well, this is where it got us. This is what it got for our kids and our teachers. Yeah, it was tough before, but now? Between ESSA, Trump, and the already absolute racist practices in our urban public schools via Obama and previous presidents and ed. policy, I would hope somebody out there is ready for a revolution. And if you think it's going to happen via our national unions or the democratic party think again - they are CORPORATE OWNED AND CONTROLLED.

And yes, I'm truly happy to see people protesting now, people who previously ignored all of this while protecting their own and staying absolutely fucking comfortable as hell - so sad it had to get to this point to wake people up. But clearly it was necessary. So thank you for waking up. But, moving forward, let's not forget for one second how we got here - be sure to thank the unions and the dems and the liberals for helping get us right to this absolute spot we sit in now. How does it feel? Pretty shitty? Well, think back on the kids in Aurora, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Philly, New Orleans and more - who've been dealing with this shit FOREVER - think about that. Think about that urgency that was ignored - and get this - is STILL IGNORED - think about 500 years of this shit happening. And think about the opportunity we have to do something right - for all people - for all humanity - for the common good - for children.

The urgency is not new - it's old as hell. Let's do this. #greenparty

Last Day at Standing Rock

This blog was first posted at on 11/10/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

This is the final blog in a series of pieces from Standing Rock.  See these links for previous posts.

I'm a Colonizer but I feel the Sacred

I'm a Colonizer but I feel the Sacred Part II

The Front Line

Stories from Standing Rock

Peaceful Protest and Breathing

The Protectors of Humanity #NoDAPL

November 8th, 2016

This morning I receive a sage blessing from Dawn Neptune Adams of the Penobscot Nation and I drag Sam out of the tent to make sure he receives a blessing too. The steam is rising up off the river and the frost is thick.

Today is really my last day at Standing Rock. We leave tomorrow morning. It's a slow day. Mainly a day of taking stock of our supplies and deciding how to disperse them.  We take some time to head back up to the bridge one more time along with some friends who hadn't seen the ruthless aftermath of the corporate oligarchy.

One thing I've learned from my trip to Standing Rock:  You are where you need to be when you need to be there. And many thanks to Dawn for reminding my son and myself of that.

Sam and I also head over to donations to find thermal underwear for the Front Line. They've requested it. We haul off every adult piece we can find and bag it up to take it to them later.

We are kind of at that point of thinking things through..... and how all this impacts our direction in life when we leave - it's a privilege to do this. We think how we can help Standing Rock in the future. We want to come back - but if we come back - meaning it's still here - does that mean no progress has been made?

Or, perhaps if it is still here, it simply means that the various goals, one being a collective of people who wish to create a community that is based on the common good, is indeed achieving success.

Does that mean that the pipeline will be shut down? Not necessarily.  And where does that leave the courageous men and women on the front line? I don't know. The construction people were digging the pipeline on election day. We can see it from our camp.

There is a plan to push forward by the front line, but as we discussed at our campfire, these fights are cyclical. One push might make the next push achieve success. It's hard to know what will happen.

I have a few thoughts on Standing Rock and some things to consider if you plan to come and help.

First - remember - you are here to help - not to direct .  If you're white, check that white privilege at the door and learn how to listen.

Regarding where to camp.  This will most likely offend some folks.  It's my opinion - take it or leave it. We stayed at the Oceti Sakowin camp.  Sacred Stone (the most "publicly" known camp) - is across the Cannon Ball River.  Sacred Stone is referred to by many as Sacred Woodstock. It is largely populated by white people.  And Sacred Stone has received many many donations. Donate to Oceti Sakowin here.

That being said, should white people come to Standing Rock to help?? OF COURSE. But help, and listen.

Other thoughts - my only moments of cringing, or feeling ashamed or embarrassed while at Standing Rock this week were due to the actions of some of the white people.

Let me give an example. At the bridge, where the burned trucks and barbed wire separate the law enforcement from the entrance to Oceti Sakowin camp I witnessed a white female rushing forward towards the trucks and yelling to those of us standing behind the flags on the hill (standing behind flags as directed by tribal camp leaders). She yelled to us that nothing would get done by standing back and we all needed to rush forward with her. There were approximately hundred people at that point watching as we stood behind the flags. Luckily no one listened to her. The tribal leaders have a plan, and the white people are there to help and listen. Not takeover. Not create wreckless disasters that could harm the peaceful plan of the tribal leaders. Not spend their days trying to party and attempt to recreate a Woodstock scenario. Please represent us well.  Don't make this about "you"  - this is a chance to give back and to face history, and our ancestors role in colonizing - genocide - of indigenous people and land.

Other thoughts re: coming to Standing Rock:

It's cold. Be sure you have enough blankets to be warm. Assume you don't have enough - truly.

Hand warmers (the packets) are a must.

Tent? Make sure it can handle freezing temperatures and be sure to take notice of your tent's pathetic construction compared to the teepees that stand strong and warm in the fiercest of winds and subzero temperatures.

Head lamp a must.

If you are blogging expect to have to leave camp to get anything uploaded.

The additional chargers for phones, etc. are pretty essential (I didn't have one). The signal at Media Hill is weak and the solar panel charging works, but it is slow.

Boots. Period.

Camp near a portapotty - at three a.m. you will thank me.

The wind is fierce - be sure to have the proper winter items to cover your face.

If you wear contacts - good luck - bring extras.

Food? Depends on how you plan to contribute. There is plenty of food, but we brought our own as we didn't want to take food from the community. I suppose if you plan to work in the kitchen then perhaps eating there for free might work for some. You'll have to make those decisions. Water? Also available at camp. Perhaps bring your own jugs and refill as needed? A "dolphin" to put on top of a jug is a luxury but a good investment.

If you plan to get arrested, be sure to have a plan in place for bail and don't expect to be out within the hour. You may end up in Fargo, and in a dog cage. And be prepared to be strip searched.

Wood for a fire. You will forever need wood. There of course is wood at the camp, but again think through how you plan to contribute before taking - just my opinion.

Leaving camp - if you plan to leave to do anything, such as run a simple errand, anticipate a three to four hour trip. The detours make it impossible to do anything fast.

The casino -about the only place you can go and be back to camp quickly - it's a good place to recharge your phone, laptop, etc., if you get lucky enough to find one of the plugs. There are a few in the lobby and near the restaurant. They might let you stay, they might not.

I am told you can shower at the marina.

Finally, recognize that these are all problems of the privileged and keep it in check.


Much gratitude and love to the indigenous people of Standing Rock and the protectors at the Front Line.

Mni Wiconi.

Nov. 9th, 2016 - The day after the election.

I woke up in my tent not knowing if Clinton or Trump had won. I made my way up to Media Hill in the dark to check the news on my phone after hearing from a friend at camp that Trump was indeed the winner.  I videotaped Oceti Sakowin as the sun came up - listen for the singing. It gave me some peace of mind and reminded me that the fight for humanity must move faster than ever before. No time to cry. No time to mourn. The revolution must be now. Much love to you all. Let's get this done.

The Protectors of Humanity #NoDAPL

This blog was first posted at on 11/8/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

Day 6

Nov. 7th, 2016

It's the day before the election.  I'm at Standing Rock - where life is real - people are real, and work is pure - and at the end of the day you feel that you did something good. Even when we look at the humvees planted in the hills, or hear the airplane that circles regularly during the day, or listen to the constant chopping of air as the helicopter circles us at night - at the end of the day, I feel grateful for every human contact I made, and I sleep well after using my time to give back, whether it be writing, physical labor, or simply meeting others at Standing Rock who have come here with similar goals in mind.

Today we cooked breakfast, cleaned up, and watched one of our newest members of the camp, a city dog, find her way around Ocete Sakowin.  Sam and I then made our way to the school, which was still in the process of being relocated, so we decided to head back to the Front Line to see how we could help. I think everyone has to find their place once they come to Standing Rock, and Sam and I have discovered that we can move between two locations - the school, and the Front Line. We are of the most use in those two locations.

We now know the way to the Front Line well. We cross over the bridge, past Rosebud camp, past Sacred Stone camp, and head left into the field passing by horses, dogs, people all the while watching the humvees in the hills across the river.  When we get to the Front Line a lot has changed. Of course the law enforcement is always watching so sharing the "changes" is in no way divulging a secret. There are more tents, more food, more supplies, and today, two brand new tents that are massive and need to be erected. One will be the kitchen and the other a meeting space. Sam already helped relocate the school so he knows how to put up these tents for the most part. There are members of many tribes here, some from here in North Dakota, others from far away. We spend the entire day putting up these tents. Our third visit to the Front Line and they once again, welcome us right away, and are thankful for our help. As the only female helping put up the tent, I feel a bit self conscious, as a city girl, who honestly has about 20 minutes experience with tents. But I'm learning, and they  have no problem including me. I watch what happens, and I simply duplicate the action.

We put up the first tent and then realize we haven't put up the center frame pole yet. So, down come all the poles and up goes the center. We work together reading directions, learning from our mistakes, laughing, joking, and simply talking about the task at hand. Life is good. These are good people. The longer I am here, the harder it is to try to separate the reality with the humanity that greets me daily here with handshakes, hugs, and kindness. And of course the question always goes back to, What is next? I ask. There is a plan.

Of course there is. And I thank them for that and I don't ask anymore.

The wind is absolutely fierce today. Those who have bandanas or scarves or whatever it may be have covered their faces.  It's cold and it's so loud with the rippling of the tent canvas that at times it's hard to hear. I look around at the Front Line and I can't imagine how amazing they will feel tonight as they eat and meet inside the warm and tightly constructed tents.

We ask what else they need. They need wood, meat, chairs, tables, and thermal underwear. They are preparing for the winter.  I purposely don't take pictures of anyone, nor will I mention any names, even though at the end of this afternoon I considered these men to be friends, even if for a brief moment. They knew Sam by name and thanked him for his help.

We will head back in the morning with whatever supplies we are able to gather. I'm going to see what we can donate from our own camp supplies before we leave.

I spent some time talking to one of the men about the camp, about how long he'd been there and then I finally asked, How long will you stay?

Till the end, he said.

I think about the election. I think about Standing Rock. And I think about how far removed the two are from one another, and then how incredibly close they really are, hiding in the hills, watching with the floodlights, the helicopters, the airplanes and the armed men with binoculars. They are so close that I want to scream at them. I want to scream words of hate. But I won't. I won't. I'm in a place of peace and forgiveness. And let me tell you, as a white woman, walking onto the Front Line, and being treated with kindness, and respect, where men from many tribes allow me to help - without any knowledge of who I might truly be, well that's forgiveness. There is something much deeper going on here than simply a tent being raised.

The protectors of water are the protectors of humanity.

That much I know.

And this election - this election be damned.

I'm thankful to be spending the night at Standing Rock on Tuesday night, election night. Thankful to have one more night falling asleep to the drums and the cry of Mni Wiconi. Mni Wiconi.

Peaceful Protest and Breathing

This blog was first posted at on 11/6/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

Nov. 6th, 2016

Last night we went to the casino in order to make a mad dash to upload all blogs, pictures, social media, etc., that each of us has promised to various organizations and groups.  When we returned it was after eleven p.m. Sam and I crawled into our tent exhausted. We had been going nonstop all day long.  As I crawled in I heard the drum circle and the singing once again. I thought to myself about how ridiculously beautiful this is. Now that I am accustomed to the temperature at night, and I am comfortable in my tent, it's almost like mother earth is singing me to sleep. The singing was then followed by the cry Water is Life (in English) -  which then bounced like a raindrop twenty tents over where some cried out Mni Wiconi, bouncing again 30 tents in a different direction.....Mni Wiconi, and so it goes, over and over, and I drifted off to sleep, very grateful.

I woke this morning to a packed camp. I noticed yesterday that people were piling in for the weekend. But this morning, it's clearly full. I am told that 3,000 people are here during the week and that it rises to approximately ten thousand on the weekends, which explains why my attempts to charge my phone and computer at Media Hill were absolutely futile on Saturday. As I sat and drank coffee by the fire this morning we heard music over at camp security. Our camp is right next to the camp exit where security stands 24/7. A man, soon to be known as Peter, had stopped there in his car and turned on his radio and started dancing. I went over and joined and then filmed a small clip. It will make you smile. And it was a great way to start my morning.

After finishing breakfast by the campfire my son yells for me to hurry. There is a group headed into the Morton County Memorial Courthouse for a peaceful protest. We decide to go.  I hadn't gone into town for any protests and I was interested to see what might transpire.  We drove what seemed to be a good hour, finally arriving at the courthouse and linking hands all the way around the building. I was at a corner of the building, and oddly enough, found myself linking hands with people from Colorado on both hands. My understanding of the protest was that we were there to make it clear that we must all forgive, we must all come in peace together, in order to regain our humanity and to protect the water. It was a beautiful protest, followed by some beautiful thoughts from Lilah Johnson.  Lilah discusses how she came to organize this peaceful protest today. She looked to her sisters in Ferguson, Missouri.

In some ways this protest was hard for me, hard to slow down, hard to simply be still and meditate with peaceful thoughts....I wanted to get back to camp - there were things we needed to do. I'm a city girl, I move fast, I get things done real fast, and that's not necessarily always the right or most helpful way to be. Sometimes it's important to just be present. I was reminded of that today where I was forced to stop, breathe, and simply hold hands in silence.

As we headed back to camp we stopped by a horrific sight - it truly makes me choke up viewing it. It was a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was like someone had taken an ax to the earth - yet they didn't stop with one chop. They were merciless. They hacked again and again and again. They hacked over the hills, in a murderous way, leaving the earth exposed and wood planks had been pounded into the ground to demand compliance. They then had taken that now all too familiar barbed wire that I see at Standing Rock - it flows in circle after circle to bind off an area from anyone who might feel the need to stop their cold and calculated progress. We took pictures. Dawn, a member of the Penobscot tribe, and a Green Party member, gave me some tobacco (asemaa) and told me to toss it to the earth and say a prayer. Again, forcing me to slow down, forcing me to go within, and think deeply about what I do, and why I do it.

So I did. I stopped and thought. I stopped moving so fast. And I breathed.

I watched my son climb down into the Dakota Access Pipeline and I tried to imagine what he might feel and think, as his generation will see and know the consequences of this more than I ever will.

I took pictures, listened to car horns of support as they drove by, and then  I climbed back into the van to head back to camp.

I've been here four days and there has been no wind. None. In all the videos previous to coming here it was blustery. Today - there is wind. Immense wind. The flags are all flying high, including the United States flag positioned in the sign of distress. We are now back and I've climbed into our van to type before I forget all the things that have transpired. It's impossible to type outside.  It's 2 pm.  Sam sits next to me in the van doing homework so that he doesn't get behind. We have people that stop by our camp to tell us they are voting for Jill Stein. They love our Green Party Banner.  We love being here.

Mni Wiconi.

Stories from Standing Rock

This blog was first posted at on 11/5/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

November 5th, 2016

Today we ate breakfast and headed back to the Front Line to deliver the shields. As we cross over the bridge into the Rosebud camp we are immediately told there is a direct action today. Not sure what it is, but hoping we will hear more. We head on to the Front Line. We've got the shields that Sam made, and the few hardback books that were waterlogged from the school. We know the layout of the camps quite well now. We trek past Rosebud, Sacred Stone, and simply make our way along Cannonball River with the teepees as our end point in the distance.

When we arrive there I'm immediately directed to a drop-off point for the shields - there are piles of them already. When we made the shields yesterday the idea for creating them came from someone at the camp - word of mouth travels fast. Everyone took their storage bin lids and quickly devised handles and sent them on to the Front Line. When we visited the Front Line yesterday I'm pretty sure there were only two teepees. Now there are four. There is also milk of magnesia (for tear gas) and various other piles of supplies that have appeared in the last 24 hours.

We see a friend there who we know and we ask about the direct action - he states that he has no idea. As he should. Who are we anyway? We could be infiltrators who are dropping off shields in the hopes of gaining information. We thank them for all that they are doing and leave.

Across Canonball River the police/military presence has increased.  Yesterday there were approximately 5 vehicles (Humvees). Today just along this area of the Front Line I spot easily twenty or more.  Today the law enforcement officers are standing outside of the vehicles staring at everyone with binoculars. They have two police boats riding up and down the river.

Last night we of course had helicopters circling all night. Hard sleeping conditions. Today, for the first time since I arrived, we have helicopters circling all day too. They circle low and loud as always.

We make our way back through the Sacred Stone camp, Rosebud, and across the bridge back to Oceti Sakowin Camp. As we make our way back we are told that the direct action today is at the bridge. We fill our water bottles and head there. It's crazy hot by now. The nights are freezing, the days are burning up typically.

Sam and I view this at the bridge.

The bridge is where the cars and tires were burned in an effort to stop the digging.  Many others are already heading to the bridge today. We make our way there  and across from it the road is lined with law enforcement.  Throughout our time there the law enforcement rotates  in and out, easily 40 to 50 vehicles at a time. The word of mouth "direct action" clearly made traction fast in the camp. The law enforcement had maneuvered into the fields on either side of the road.  When we left the bridge finally there were easily 200 or so people waiting and standing in the road.  Tribal leaders came out on horseback and directed everyone to stay back, and eventually asked us to head back to camp. I have no idea what the direct action was, or if it occurred, or if perhaps it is occurring tonight. But it was clear to me that many are ready for action; action I am told must remain peaceful. It is strange to be standing in a country where we proclaim to be a "democracy", and where various law enforcement officials bear down, ready to take brutal action on peaceful people.  Watching 200 people on one side of the bridge, watching over 50 law enforcement vehicles on the other side of the bridge, separated by burned vehicles - is something - well it's something I think I'm still trying to wrap my head around.  As I write this blog at the casino tonight I talk to a young man from Los Angeles. He says we are at a crossroads - we want to protect the water - we are protectors - but we are at a point where we protect or we head down the wrong path (more or less, not remaining peaceful) - it is hard to know what will happen.  He says he is tired and he is ready to go home.  He has been here two months.  I am told many at the camp plan never to leave - they will see this through to the end.

When we left the bridge today and headed back to camp we see the Oglala Sioux Tribe from Pine Ridge coming into the camp. It had to be hundreds of people and easily twenty to thirty vehicles plus horses.  Tribes show up continually. If you zoom in on the picture you can see them walking in.

Also, listen to the video as you hear the crowd welcoming them into the camp.

We followed behind them and headed back to camp, back to the school which was recently relocated near our own camp by the river. Sam, my son, was designated the new coordinator for organizing materials yesterday so he headed there to work and I eventually made my way there as well. As a teacher, I, of course enter the school tent with ideas for organizing, planning classroom activities, and more. But it's not my classroom. I will be here only until Wednesday. I help them organize crayons, paper, craft materials, books, games and more. It's a nice large tent. I, of course, wish they had more.

The classroom has two teachers. Students are all ages. They have a large field to play in and a river close by.  As I'm organizing children trail in and out asking where the teachers are - they are ready to get back to class - they clearly miss their teachers. Monday class will resume. I'm excited to stop by and offer my help. And Sam, well Sam, he has worked hard every day he has been here - I wish he would blog, so you could view this through his eyes, because he loves these people, he loves this place, and he wants to learn. He so desperately wants to learn - and give back however it might help.

Signing off on this Saturday evening. We're pretty tired today.  It's incredibly hard to get any word out about what is going on. There is almost no internet connection at the camp. Sometimes I stand on FB Hill holding my phone up high because I'm told it will get a better signal.  It rarely works. Tonight we drove up the road to the casino and ate here in hopes of finding a plug to charge our phones, computers, and hopefully write some posts for our various blogs. I've been booted out of the one room we found that had a plug behind a fridge. Now we're seated on the floor next to a soda machine and I yanked the duct tape off the extra plug to use it. All plugs have been covered with plastic covers - no plugs can be used. Yet campers are parked in various locations on the floor around the casino trying to type furiously and send out the word. And all the time wondering where this will all end and if ultimately, if our small contribution even makes a difference.


The Front Line

This blog was first posted at on 11/5/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.

November 4, 2016

Today we went to the front line - this is the camp that is closest to the digging of the pipeline -  but the front line has been pushed back - and they are trying to inch their way back to the digging. We visited with women and men that have been there a week and they are waiting for reinforcements who should be arriving soon. Now that I know where the front line is, I can easily see their teepees from Media Hill. We asked them how we could help. They need shin guards (made from hardback books - they promise to return them) and shields ( made from the tops of storage bins). My son is making the shields now. He was given gas mask hoses that he can use to create handles on the shields. We went to the school to pull any hard back books that might not  be in good shape (water logged). The front line has two canoes (or maybe a kayak I can't remember).  The shields are necessary to deflect the rubber bullets and the bean bags. As I write I'm talking to a young man who was on the front line and he shows us a large bruise on his chest from one of the bean bags. He says they were shooting rubber bullets and bean bags from a boat as  they tried to make a bridge in order to get across Cannonball River and pray. He says that one day, when 140 got arrested, the police shredded his tent, and everyone else's.

We worked in the school today as well.  We organized books, getting ready for the move to a more spacious spot for the kids - typically 25 or so a day. I'm hoping I can help teach on Monday (once it's moved) if they need me.

Tomorrow morning there is suppose to be a Sun Dance very early at the bridge. I'm going to get up and head there to see it.  This camp, Oceti Sakowin,  is a place full of kindness, constant music, and friendship. Sam is digging a fire pit for us right now. We haven't had a shovel and one suddenly appeared allowing Sam to dig the hole. It's freezing at night. I can't feel my toes. Today an extra blanket is suddenly inside my tent.

If I need food, there is food. If I need medical assistance, there are medics. Everywhere I turn there is someone to help. I think about the children I taught last year in the Aurora Public Schools and the lack of resources available to them.  Yet, here, we have a group of people who have come together, and you do not want for anything. Therefore, you can focus your attention on the task at hand - the task being, how to save the water - as water is life.  I wonder how my students could have focused, if they had all the resources, plus the beautiful land, river and sky that surrounds me now?

front line camp 
At the front line today we can see the "police cars" - but I am told they are not police - it's hard to discern who is in those cars - military - private security - mercenaries?  There are flood lights facing the front line. When I point to the lights I am asked not to point. The front line says they turn on the lights to watch them.

Our neighbors at the camp site have invited us to dinner, have given us insights into how to help, what to send back to the front line, and simply how to "be" at this camp.  Sam is busy trying to use rebar  to melt holes in the bin covers to create shields. Not sure we can get it done tonight and back to the front line this evening, but for sure tomorrow morning.  They need more people at the front line. And they need the media. I have not seen CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS - you name it, I've seen no one that will push it out to mainstream media.  It's disgusting - and it makes it clear that once again, in this country, there will be no taking back our humanity unless the people push to do so.

We talk a lot about humanity, the greed of capitalism and how our lives have been bombarded with pictures, phrases, stories, and symbols all meant to keep us passive and rabid consumers. Here, we don't consume - here we are focused on how to give back - how to support one another.  Access to social media is found briefly on Media Hill via solar panels. I trek up there twice a day to check in with my family and send out pictures and writing. Other than that, we're busy working and making face to face connections - we are talking and trying to find inspiration in the words and stories of others. There is empathy here, and a determined sense of hope. More tomorrow.

Sam has been asked to be the coordinator for the school move. He's immersed in the work here.

Much love to you from Standing Rock.

I'm a Colonizer but I feel the Sacred Part II

This blog was first posted at on 11/5/2016.  My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.
Day One continued at Oceti Sakowin Camp #NoDAPL

I continue to hear stories.

Another tribe is the Crow tribe.  They came walking four miles to the camp  - coming in "healing" and wearing  full tribal dress.  The Crows were previously hated because they gave up the Native Americans to the army years  ago, but now the goal is unity, unity to save the water.  I wish I could have been here to see them arrive. I am told that new tribes arrive every day. There is much hope in that.

There is much talk of the front line. The front line is where they stand to keep them from digging the pipeline. The most recent action includes the police taking away their tents which they had managed to get across the river in order to set up camp. There are stories of people swimming across in bullet proof vests, barely making it back because the vest became so weighted down from the water. Stories of exhaustion.  This is what I hear.

There are the barricades, the stop points with police/military in order to get into the camp. There are the kitchens, the piles of supplies (tents, sleeping bags, etc) that the military took when tearing down the encampments of the front lines. There is the Media Hill, previously dubbed FB Hill, where I go to briefly text my husband and upload this blog via phone screen shots (which dear friends retype) and any quick comments to Facebook.

There is much to do, or there is nothing to do. The question is how to be of use? Tomorrow I will work at the school, helping to move the boxes and boxes of materials to a new location so that the children have more space to run and play. Currently the school is in the middle of the camp. I spend time talking to my son, as we both have questions, similar life experiences and words, images, and simply much that we have to discuss, and think through.

Tonight we went inside a beautiful new dome that was recently erected. We listened to the drum circle, and we danced, and I felt my throat come up and out through my eyes, with no explanation or words to describe something that is not my experience, but one that I was welcomed into tonight.

As we leave the dome, we find that we have been dancing in circles for at least five rounds. We walk out completely disoriented and we are laughing as we fling our head lamp around trying to discern where is the river? Media Hill? Where is the highway? Where is the school? My son runs ahead with the headlamp and yells to me that he sees our camp, with a strong fire in tow, right by the river. As we walk towards our camp he says to me, Can you imagine belonging to a community like that? Where you knew all those songs, and those dances, and where you belonged with a group of so many people and they were your family? Can you imagine what that would feel like?  To be a part of a tribe? - says the white child to the white mother.

I will leave you with that. I cannot explain my emotions.

I'm shutting my computer, listening to the helicopters, and the drums still drumming, in the center of the camp.