This gathering was the biggest in many years – maybe ever – due to the explosion of solidarity around the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux to stop DAPL – the Dakota Access Pipeline. There were about a thousand of us there. The event features only native speakers, which is one of the few times they get to speak for themselves, but everyone is always welcome to attend and support.
After the speeches and some wonderful drumming and dancing, we walked down Cole’s Hill (where we had gathered around the statue of the Wampanoag leader Massasoit) to the water and held a rally at Plymouth Rock, which I and most other people apparently always think of as big as the Rock of Gibraltar in the Prudential Insurance ads, but it’s a small (a few feet long by a few feet wide), unassuming whitish rock that entombed in a mausoleum for all to see.
After the rally, where my friends from New Haven who are members of Unidad Latina en Accion displayed the wonderful banner above, Rob and I stayed for the potluck at one of two churches that host it every year. We sat at a table with a group of New Yorkers who’d come up in a bus. When I told my table mate that I was heading to Standing Rock, she gave me a big hug and said to pass it on when I got there.
The news is terrible from there, with 300 water protectors and their allies injured last weekend when the cops sprayed them with water hoses in 25 degree weather, and one woman whose arm was shattered by a concussion grenade, which then the cops denied using, but pieces of shrapnel were taken out of her arm during surgery. And then yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers declared they will evict people from the biggest camp (Oceti Sakowin) by Dec. 5 as a way to protect them from the violence. Give me a break. How about stopping all the armed forces massed against the nonviolent water protectors from using the violence in the first place?
One exciting development is that some retired military people are conducting a non-violent muster at Standing Rock on Dec. 4-6 (we’re due to arrive on the 7th, and will miss it). They’re all wearing their military uniforms as they confront the sheriff’s deputies, National Guard and other militarized forces. Should be interesting.
I’m excited to be going, to do some reporting but mostly to help in any way I can. I’m getting myself some super-warm clothes, sleeping bag and a winter tent (some of it thanks to a local political philanthropist who took me shopping at a trendy outdoor gear and clothing store.) But I’ll also be glad to be back home in time for Christmas.