This is Bill. He's a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His people have lived on and cared for this land for hundreds of years. I met him in the early morning hours on my first day at Standing Rock. His dog Angel introduced us, as dogs do. I was overwhelmed with the energy of this sacred place, and was walking towards media hill to acquire my press pass. I was unsure what the days ahead would bring. Bill's first words to me... "Thank you for being here."
Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. "We need you," he said, "All of you. All of our allies, from all over the world. It really means a lot to us that you are here." And in that instant, I'm pretty sure my heart exploded within my chest. "Thank YOU for inviting us," I said, "It is a true honor", and I meant it from depths of my being.
Land sacred to these people is being destroyed. Again. This is nothing new. They stand in prayer. To protect the Water. To protect Mother Earth. Arms outstretched. Hearts wide open.
This photo is from the day we call "Thanksgiving". Law enforcement was stationed on top of Turtle Island, a sacred site for the Standing Rock Sioux. Their ancestors are buried on that hill, and the police are stationed up there, parking, driving, walking all over it. There are snipers, there are guns, mace canisters in hand, fire hoses, all at the ready. All at the ready for the prayer & ceremony that is about to take place on the banks of the Cannonball River.
Bill & his tribe, along with 300 other tribes, plus thousands of non-Native allies, are standing up for all of us. For Life. For Water. For your children. For Indigenous sovereignty. For peace.
The Natives are fulfilling a prophecy - that the youth would rise up, and that people of all colors would stand together - to kill the black snake. Because the black snake brings with it great sorrow and great destruction. This prophecy is now - the black snake is DAPL - the Pipeline. This is happening in real time, and I still cannot quite find the words to illustrate the immensity of this movement. These are the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. This is The Great Sioux Nation. This river is their relative, and they will stand and pray until the black snake is defeated.