Cannonball Run, a reflection about the trip I took to North Dakota, from Perri DeJarnette.
For those who I informed and those I did not,
I traveled to Cannonball, North Dakota to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Below is a journal I have written with information about the action that is taking place and reflection of my trip. The end has links for further details and information on ways to donate.
On April 1st 2016, the Standing Rock Lakota Nation set up camp near cannonball north Dakota. The Red warrior camp is the center for the fight against “the black snake”, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline. This pipeline, owned by the Enbridge corporation and funded by numerous banking and financial corporations is set to pass directly north of the reservation, disturbs dozens of sacred sites and would pass underneath the Missouri river. The Missouri river is the only source of clean water for the reservation, and down stream is a source of water for 10 million people. The Missouri flows into the Mississippi river and finally into the gulf of Mexico joining the rest of the waters of the world. What this pipeline would carry is some of the dirtiest and most difficult to extract fossil fuel, Bakken shale: 500,000 barrels a day. The only way to unearth this fuel is by hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking; which itself is dangerous and irreversibly destructive.
A full survey of sacred native sites was not completed nor was a full environmental impact study completed—it is on these grounds that a tribe is fighting the construction in court.
On the ground, at construction sites people of all ages go to participate in non-violent action. Sometimes protectors will chain themselves to machinery, but mostly they go to these sites to pray. Violent retaliation to these peaceful actions has increased. This past week, prayer was met with loaded assault weapons and pepper spray. Also this week the police/ national guard/ oppressor have jammed the camp’s wifi. Social media outlets, namely Facebook, has blocked live feeds coming from the camp and protest sites, an article about it can be read here. In previous weeks, dogs were set to attack women and children. The whole world is watching but the United States seems not to see it.
Over 300 tribes from all over the world have pledge solidarity with the Lakota nation, over 200 tribes have traveled to the Red Warrior camp. They chant “Mni wiconi” (pronounced mini we-choh-nee) “water is life”. They call themselves protectors. Protectors not protestors. They protect water and by protecting water protect all life of this earth. Clean water is a human right not a commodity to be privatized.
On September 25, 2016, my mother dropped me off in front of a school bus surrounded by countless boxes and bags of food, personal hygiene, winter clothing, and camping donations; 3 pens with chickens, rabbits, and a duck; and 15 other people ranging in age from 4 years to 60 years. As the bus was loading up with more and more I was sure there would be no room for us all to find seats, a small part of me was sure I was not getting on that bus. I was scared to get on the bus. I got on the bus questioning what I was doing.
When we got on the bus, Mountain Man said “we are on Indian time now”. To me, this means events will unfold as they should, our experiences happen when they need to and there is something to be learned.
I had 24 hours to think about all the reasons I got on the bus. These reasons are deeply personal and shape my worldview. At first going on this trip was a fantasy: living in the 1960’s and 1970’s, get on a bus to go west, promote peace and love, join the American Indian Movement to occupy Alcatraz. To be a witness to injustice that has lasted centuries and continues. To be inspired by people, to push away years of writers block and share my experience. To do something completely out of my normal and find the world is bigger and more complicated than I ever wanted to imagine. To find out how to participate. To do something I believe is worth doing.
When we got on the bus, Mountain Man, said “we are on Indian time now”. What that means to me is events will unfold as they should, our experiences happen when they need to and there is something to be learned.
The goal of this trip was to get to North Dakota, to bring supplies and donations, to help with the everyday workings inside the camp, to stand with these protectors. We planned to be at camp for 3 days and 4 nights. We were only at camp for 8 hours. 24 hours in and our bus broke down in Wisconsin—we needed a new serpentine belt and tubes for the air filter.
There was a campsite 10 miles from the gas station where we stopped. Slowly we made it to the camp site. As the skies darkened all 16 of us did our part to unload the bus, set up camp and cook dinner. I was focused wholly on the animals we had brought. They had gone many hours without food or water. I did not want to be the care taker of these animals on the trip, I was upset they were there and the conditions they were in. They were confined too close together, they were hungry, thirsty, stressed and some already sick. We did not have enough water and food dishes for all the animals. Feeding and watering took along time. Judy and I spent most of our time that we were stuck at the campsite feeding animals, making secure areas for the animals to stretch and eat fresh grass. We lost 1 rabbit and 2 chickens while broke down in Wisconsin.
Our bus was fixed and we drove through the night to get to Sacred Stone camp. We crossed the Missouri river in darkness and were welcomed by the sunrise in North Dakota. A sliver of the moon hung in the sky, Venus shining above it. Slowly they were both lifted away by emerging oranges, pinks, and greens of the new sun. Shadows of the hills and prairies took shape. I felt as if I were waking on another world.
I was tired. We were all tired. We took a back way into camp to bypass a National Guard check point. The bus couldn’t make it down the steep hill into camp. We parked and unpacked the bus, we sorted out personal items and donations. People came up with trucks and vans to load the donations and supplies. Michael and his 5 children were there to receive the animals that would provide meat and eggs for the coming winter. The children were so happy and I was so relieved.
I walked around camp, it was peaceful but I was uncomfortable.
I went back to see the animals and the kids. I found a women crying and a man yelling. I saw the duck we brought with a large gash on its throat. A dog had attacked it. A man took the duck away with an axe.
I walked to the fire by the kitchen tent, I sat to eat, an Ojibwa man, Jim, asked if I wanted to help build a long house. I was so relieved.
I stood on a ladder twisting cut saplings together to form the arches that support the long house. With each twist I weave in a blessing that that the long house will be a place of peace, a place of rest, a place of strength.
The leaves are changing up north. The camp is preparing for winter. A typical winter day is 17 degrees below zero with a biting wind.
The long house will be covered in tarps and hopefully have a wood stove inside to keep it warm.
Now what do I do back home? I didn’t get to help at the camp as much as I wanted to because we weren’t there long enough. There is still so much to do.
Native people on all continents have been oppressed for centuries and it continues today. People all over the world have their basic human rights violated daily. It continues as the news outlets for the masses fail to show the scope of what is truly going on. Journalists are being arrested. Militarized police are protecting profits and property instead of people.
What can I do to continue to support this fight for a human right to clean water? I’ll start by sharing this with has many people as I can think to. I’ll divest from fossil fuels by moving my money to a bank that doesn’t fund fossil fuel companies. I’ll donate to the legal fund, I’ll donate money so the tribe can buy what they need. I’ll go back because the next bus leaves in November and I think we’re bringing goats. I’ll fight for clean water and an end to fossil fuels because on the list of needed supplies they call for warriors.
Learn about the camp, find ways to donate http://sacredstonecamp.org/
Many articles and videos can be found at http://www.unicornriot.ninja/
Google Dakota Access Pipeline and find out more!
Consider writing to one of the funding banks, you probably do business with one of them http://www.nationofchange.org/2016/10/02/contact-17-banks-funding-dakota-access-pipeline/
Send this email to someone you think should know about what’s going on.
Talk to anyone, everyone, each other. Have big conversations. Listen. Learn. Be heard.
Power to the people,