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Water and community

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, October 10th, 2016 - 10 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, Environment, sustainability, uncategorized, water - Tags: , , , , ,

October 8 – 10th is four International Days of Prayer and Action with Standing Rock on stepping up as Protectors of Water. Background and ways to take part are outlined here. This post is in support of that. 

Two articles on community at Standing Rock.

“This is how we should be living”

So many people have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to make this pilgrimage. When people first meet, they ask each other where they’re from. Some are old friends, but many represent tribes that have been estranged or enemies for generations. Many spoke of the arrival of representatives of the Crow Nation, who have a long history of supporting coal mining and working at odds with other tribes. They too came to support Standing Rock.

The purposefulness here overcomes everything—the determination that this time the damage will be stopped. This time, before the water is poisoned or another sacred site is bulldozed, the protectors will step in.

That sense of purpose pervades the camp. While some plan the next direct action or post on social media, others split wood for fires, sort the river of donations flowing unabated into the camp, or cook for thousands of people in makeshift camp kitchens.

Life at the water protectors’ encampment is much like life was for millions of years of human evolution—close to the earth, near a river, clustered in family and community camps. There’s a rightness to these connections and to the feeling that people here will help you when you need it.

Here, with a purpose that threads through generations, work, celebration, and activism are a seamless whole. Young people ride through the camp on horseback among tents and teepees. Are they providing security, learning traditional animal caretaking, or just having fun together? Elders tell stories of Wounded Knee, say prayers, and sing. Are they educating the next generation, building coherence, or guiding the actions? These things are not separate. They are all of a piece, all about rebuilding indigenous ways of life and standing against further destruction.

People come and go. Some depart after a few days or weeks, but their reluctance to leave shows. Others are making plans to live in wood-heated tents and teepees through North Dakota’s bitter cold winter.

This is how we should be living, one person at our camp says. We give what we have to give, and take what we need.

“Standing Rock’s Prayer Camps have become communities.

Communities identify needs. Communities have accountability and responsibilities. Communities have systems within them and structures and institutions. When you go to the Prayer Camps you see those structures and institutions moving and responding.  Contrary to what some folks have said, it is not chaotic. In fact, it is very far from chaotic. It is not every person for themselves. It is not litter-filled. There are problems, like in any community—but it is working and beautiful.

Native people taking care of Native people, united by a belief and prayer and a cause.  Egos take a backseat to the bigger picture.

There is order. You see people cutting wood; that is their job. You see people patrolling security; that is their job. You see some folks cooking; that is also their job.  Needs-based—you see a need, you take care of it. When a person has particular talents—say for example, who is an organizer and who understands that every person should be accounted for within a small community—that person certainly has a place within these Prayer Camps.

Needs based.  It’s pretty amazing to watch.  That’s what communities do.

An absolutely brilliant example of a needs–based response and solution is the establishment of a school in the Oceti Sakowin Camp.  While the rest of the Protectors are literally changing the world’s conversation about oil usage and capitalism, there are still children who need to be taught.

So that’s precisely what a few young sisters did. They just started a school where there had previously been no school. No chaos. Response. Proactivity. Indigenous brilliance.

 

Frybread making with Osh Johnson from Black Mesa, Navajo Nation. Photo by Desiree Kane.

Frybread making with Osh Johnson from Black Mesa, Navajo Nation. Photo by Desiree Kane.

10 comments on “Water and community”

  1. adam 1

    Love these photo’s

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017400410

    These ones are from last month, with one of my favorite memes of all time.

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017401889

    • weka 1.1

      Thanks adam! Love the vids too,

      https://www.facebook.com/MsBJPeart/posts/10207059237574753

      I’ve been thinking about Bastion Point a lot in the past few days. I was at intermediate school then, and my memory is of the tv news and me watching and trying to figure out what it was about. I think now about the community that would have been involved in making that work, and how much difference the internet makes now in terms of what stories we get to hear.

      Occupation is a powerful undertaking, not just the logistics of food, water, shelter and waste, but how people can be with each other. Occupy was like that too, although there it was the ‘new’ processes developed so that people could come together in ways they hadn’t been socialised into.

  2. Not such good news

    “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sunday rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners…

    …In its ruling, a panel of U.S. Circuit Court judges denied the tribe’s request for an injunction, allowing construction to continue as the Tribe’s appeal is considered. Previously, the Department of Justice announced a temporary halt to pipeline construction on federal lands and requested that Energy Transfer Partners voluntarily halt construction on private lands.”

    http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/u-s-court-appeals-rules-standing-rock-tribe-dakota-access-pipeline-case/

    Not the end – just a setback in this particular battle.

    • weka 2.1

      I haven’t been following the legal side so much. Does that mean the decision to suspend work on govt land is still in place, it’s just that the larger injunction against the company has failed? Or does this mean the govt land decision will now fall too?

  3. RedLogix 3

    @ weka

    You may appreciate this:

    Mollison had a brilliant mind. He observed, he catalogued, and his systematic approach helped him to weave seemingly disparate ideas into the most detailed tapestry. In this sense he was a true visionary. He was also challenging, angry, driven by a deep sense of injustice, and merciless if crossed. He used to say: “First feel fear, then get angry. Then go with your life into the fight.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/10/bill-mollison-obituary

    • Ad 3.1

      “First feel fear, then get angry. Then go with your life into the fight.”

      Five wives.

      Possibly related?

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        Quite likely. In my experience men with such a strong framework in their lives, such a deep and focused purpose outside of the home, tend not to make good husbands.

        Yes their energy, drama and status make them initially attractive partners, but soon it becomes apparent their attention will always be elsewhere. They are rarely easy to live with.

        But then I still think the world can be grateful for them.

    • weka 3.2

      Thanks Red! I hadn’t seen that, it’s a lovely read and contains some of the best short explanations of what permaculture is that I’ve seen. I was very moved by Mollison’s death and have since been thinking through a post. This will help me get back on track with that.

    • mauī 3.3

      Hi Red, I remember you saying a while back that you were thinking of visiting Holmgren’s place over there and possibly doing a write up. I hope its still in the back of your mind 🙂

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