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Within hours, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had hauled in its own infrastructure: banks of Porta-Potties, water tankers, a disaster response trailer, Dumpsters, ambulances, a refrigerated semi truck. Meanwhile, each delegation arrived with cash and food. Tons of food. I spent a day cooking meatball stew in the main kitchen and discovered, among other abundances, a four-person tent stacked to the ceiling with bags of flour. The tribe also had its own beef production enterprise. The Yakima Nation in Washington chartered a tractor trailer filled with pallets of fresh fruit and bottled water. Small donations were also received: somebody mailed four packets of Lipton noodles. When I asked how long they planned to the stay, most said, “Till the end.”
A series of kitchens were open around the clock to feed free meals to about 1,000 people. A microphone was open to just about anyone, and throughout the long, hot days, one wayfarer after another described how wonderful it was to be here, how much it meant to see Native Americans from all the nations gathered in common purpose. While I saw passion and anger and solemnity, the main thing I saw was joy. Travelers were reuniting with long-lost relatives. Parents brought small children, and an impromptu homeschool taught them to ride horses and make fry bread. T-shirts and banners with wry slogans like NATIVES WITH ATTITUDE and STRAIGHT OUTTA PINE RIDGE hinted at youth, pride, and immersion in political pop culture. A truckful of teenage boys rolled past a trio of pretty girls and hollered, hopefully, “What tribe are you from?” There was singing and dancing and praying, sweat lodges and kayaks and swimming—a regular Native American paradise.
"I'm pretty sure by winter there will be some buildings up," said Jonathon Edwards, 36, a member of the Standing Rock tribe
Tribal flags, horses, tents, hand-built shelters and teepees dominate one of the biggest, newest communities in North Dakota, built in a valley on federal land near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers.
It's a semi-permanent, sprawling gathering with a new school for dozens of children and an increasingly organized system to deliver water and meals to the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people from tribes across North America who've joined the Standing Rock Sioux
Anchoring the camp is the Defenders of Water School, which uses two old army tents and a teepee as classrooms. Pupils learn the three R's, thanks to donated books, as well as traditional crafts and language.
He and his tribal brethren help with trash pickup and water-hauling, which is no small feat. The camp produces several tons of trash weekly and uses several hundred gallons of water daily.
Nonetheless, in five days I witnessed no violence, lawlessness, alcohol, or even hostility. A couple speakers even welcomed “European relatives” such as myself. The days were filled with peaceful marches and prayers at the idle construction site, ceremonial welcoming of newly arrived tribes, and as afternoon temps rose to the nineties, flinging ourselves into the cool waters of the once-mighty Cannonball. “River” is the incorrect word to describe this body of water. With its currentless murk and silty mud, the thing is a reservoir, an arm of the man-made lake impounded by the Oahe Dam.
originally posted by: AreUKiddingMe
a reply to: Rezlooper
Nice post. Been hearing more and more about this. Is there a live feed anywhere? I wonder how many truckloads of firewater? Just my random thoughts but knowing what happens with large gatherings, the percentage of riffraff will increase as time goes on unless they police the area very well.
originally posted by: reldra
a reply to: Rezlooper
Fantastic post. I am so glad they have the supplies they need. I only worry about the government or some private security coming in again. This is such a fantastic example of people coming together for good.
originally posted by: Night Star
So beautiful and inspiring to see people come together and stand united like this!
originally posted by: NthOther
So in their protest of infrastructure development, they're developing infrastructure?
originally posted by: Justso
Must say I fear for them-they need others to stand with them-outside of their culture if they are to have any chance at protecting the precious little land they control.
The only note of standoffishness I detected at Seven Councils was a settlement in a grove of cottonwoods called Red Warrior Camp that had erected a fence around itself and hung signs that read: NO MEDIA. NO TOURISTS. CHECK IN WITH SECURITY. An organizer told me the camp was trained in direct nonviolent action. “Whatever happens in Red Warrior Camp stays in Red Warrior Camp,” she said. When they held an open mic outside the gate, their rhetoric included the same message of togetherness and spirit but with a more militant tone. Its people were younger, quite a few of them white, some wearing camo fatigues and bandannas over their faces. I was told that many of the activists came from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 and uprising in 1973, still bearing a stamp of badassery from the days of the American Indian Movement. Unlike the Standing Rock Tribe, which courted mainstream reporters, Red Warrior pumped out its own message on Facebook. I didn’t attempt to penetrate the place but met some young native guys staying there. “For a place calling itself Red Warrior Camp,” one of them quipped, “there sure are a lot of white warriors.”
originally posted by: wickd_waze
The beat reporter is way over exaggerating I think, click baiting. Just because a bunch of people coming together with their own "camping supplies" doesnt mean there's an infrastructure in place. Infrastructure is the developement, growth or even construction of water services, electric, paved roads and other public works for the community to help sustain itself. For an infrastructure to take place, yes take place organically, the town or city needs commerce happening first and foremost. I spose bartering will be enough in some instances for infrastructure to start up. Calling the camp kitchen a restaurant is a stretch. Designating these camps as "towns" is like saying any sort of get togethers like weddings, funnerals towns.
originally posted by: JustAnObservation
a reply to: Rezlooper
Well, I think saying it is self-sustaining is a stretch. They're running off of donations, not their own products/goods/services that can be traded with actual towns nearby, etc. So let's say those donating lose interest, or run out of money. How would these people continue their operations? They would likely eventually leave because they cannot produce their own resources there. Which is why I would argue they are not self-sustainable, and that this is hardly more than a large, well-funded and organized gathering ... large events too have 'infrastructure' in place to feed/provide needs to large amounts of people. But they are not cities.
originally posted by: Irishhaf
I hope they stand strong, this may be the last ride for the natives. I am afraid they will compromise and lose the unity that is building, I am afraid if it's lost this time will be for good.
With so many coming together, it's going to get worse before it gets better. But if they stand strong and the alternative media keeps beating that drum we might see a victory for the people.