UPLIFT LOGO
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
52485

12 Ways to Be an Effective Ally at Standing Rock

By Liam Purvis on Thursday November 3rd, 2016

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
 
51958

Important Tips for Non-Natives Who Want to Support Standing Rock

A brief disclaimer: As a relatively young white man, I am not an expert in white allyship for native causes, and am in no way a spokesperson for any indigenous movement. I was inspired to write this piece only because of painful mistakes I have witnessed continuously repeated in native spaces by people like me. In fact, virtually all the actions one can unintentionally take to hamper indigenous movements, I have personally committed. I am writing this so that others can avoid common pitfalls and step into what I see as effective allyship within native movements.

1) Work towards the ultimate goal

Everyone knows that the immediate goal of the protests are to stop the pipeline, but what many outside observers seem to fail to realize is that the ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.

The last time that many of these tribes came together was for what the Lakota know as the Battle of Greasy Grass, and we know as Custer’s Last Stand. They are well aware of this fact at Standing Rock, as flying all over camp are exact replicas of the flag captured during that total defeat of the US army. This gathering is even more significant than that famous battle in terms of unity, because never in the history of this continent have so many tribes come together to work as one for a single goal. If this action against the pipeline is accomplished via grassroots indigenous support, native unity is gaining a track record of successfully fighting for their equal treatment.

What this means for us on the ground is that our top goal is to strengthen the peace and unity of the indigenous factions within the camp, and to support natives stepping into positions of leadership and influence in this movement. Non-indigenous individuals attempting to assist the protests by leading, organizing, and coordinating natives are actually harming the long term outlook of this movement.

The ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.The ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.

2) Understand the different ways you can help

There is a lot of need on the ground in North Dakota, and there are many ways you can support. One is by simply donating. There are several different funds for the various camps out there. If you donate in this way, the money will likely be used for legal fees, central kitchen supplies, care of the children and elderly, winter gear for the protectors, and more.

At Standing Rock, we met a lot of impoverished individuals who had been camping for weeks or months, and were prepared to spend the whole winter there, despite not even having sub-zero sleeping bags. These groups are often small, autonomous, traditional, and too proud to ask for the help they need when there are so many elderly and children present. I believe that distributing aid directly to the people who are in it for the long haul has a powerful impact on ultimately stopping the pipeline. To read more about how aid on the ground can help, please look at this document we compiled, tracking how our money was spent.

There is also need on the ground. Kitchen volunteers commonly worked up to midnight, started feeding people at the crack of dawn, and could certainly use extra help. There is a school on site that may still be looking for teachers. First aid skills, manual labor, trash clearance, minor landscaping, balanced media coverage, running errands: All were required from what I could see. If you feel comfortable contributing in these ways, are willing to navigate the complexities of race and colonialism, and are able to be self sufficient, I think your presence would be valued and appreciated onsite.

Some have been camping for weeks or months.Some have been camping for weeks or months.

3) Know how not to contribute

Since returning, I have seen a few fundraising efforts online that I thought were well intentioned but potentially problematic. One was of a Los Angeles based art director who was trying to raise $6,000 to fund her dance company to travel to Standing Rock, so that they could make an art documentary and choreograph a modern dance piece of the protests. Another was of a Brooklyn based alternative healer who had raised $1,750 to fund her travels there so she and her coworkers could give free acupuncturist sessions to the activists. Both of these funds advertised the needs of the protesters on the ground and promised that excess money would be donated to the activists.

There is a painful history of indigenous personal struggles being appropriated for someone’s artwork, personal validation, or new age experience, and they are rightly sensitive towards these forms of well-intentioned exploitation.

Native communities have a long tradition of powerful art that resonates with individuals from all backgrounds, and alternative healing that supports their people in the absence of modern medicine. From what I can tell, this movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it. Most people who are not part of the tribes that are unifying should be paying their own way out there and fundraising for the activists.

Some people may say it’s better to donate money you would use to travel there, to the organizers. Essentially, I view simply writing a fat check as one of the downfalls of western solidarity. There is a strong tendency to donate out of guilt and then move on from the struggle. This is a budding movement and needs individuals from all walks of life in this country on the ground, interacting with, and trying to understand the complexities of the challenges facing Native Americans. The camps themselves are asking for empowered allies, willing to do the hard day-to-day labor that this space requires.

This movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it.This movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it.

4) Work to Build Unity

Much white activism is built around generating outrage and anger, so as to better rally support for a specific cause. This is a fine strategy for many protests, but when these habits are brought to Standing Rock they fall oddly flat. This is because there is already plenty of conviction (and anger) on these reservations whose residents are turning up in force. There are hundreds of Natives prepared to camp through the winter if need be, and Standing Rock has turned into a village at this point, with all the politics and natural divisions that a village would have.

What this group of people effectively living together needs, is to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing, so that they have the emotional stamina to thrive for the long haul. Unleashing a bunch of dramatic agitators in this space does nothing to relieve these essential problems facing the various camps stopping the pipeline. If anything, it exacerbates them. If you are going with the assumption that this protest is a place for theatrics, costumes, ironic signs, and anger, think again. The rules of activism there are fundamentally different, and revolve around building cohesion, unity, and mutual solidarity rather than incitement and dramatic education.

5) Trust native competency

This is a particularly challenging thing for many newcomers to this struggle. First Nations do things a bit differently than we do, and at times it can feel grating. Often you may wonder if any Indian you meet will ever reference something specifically in time and space. You will even see individuals with critical jobs sitting around the whole day appearing to do nothing. Ignore your frustration and do not try to step in and save the day. If you feel the need to assist, simply ask how you can help and do whatever is asked of you, no matter how trivial. Just know that things happen on their own time out there, and remember that there is only one group to ever extract an unconditional military surrender from the Unites States of America: the Lakota nation. You are around highly competent individuals doing what they do best: protecting their lands, culture, and way of life. Take this opportunity to learn from the experts.

They need to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing.They need to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing.

6) Understand the cultural context of the situation

Before you go, please do yourself and everyone else a favor and read up on two things: Basic statistics on the quality of life on the reservations in South and North Dakota, and the activism of the American Indian Movement around the 70s.

You will find some things that surprise you. Alcoholism rates of up to 80%15% of high schoolers have attempted suicide in the last 12 months, and a life expectancy that is lower than any other country in the world. No you didn’t read that wrong. If your goal was to live as long as possible, you would be better off being born in Sub-Saharan Africa than on many reservations next to Standing Rock. You will encounter poverty and hear stories to rival, and likely surpass, anything else you have ever seen or heard. Brace yourself and check your privilege. You may have things stolen from you. Remember that for many youth on the reservation, a dollar is powerful, a nice pair of jeans maybe comes by once every few years, and a gallon or two of gas opens up a world of possibility. Protect yourself from theft and false promises about what offered goods will be used for, but respond to such events with compassion.

Remember that the last time serious activism was occurring on these reservations, it resulted in great loss of life. Know that despite the peaceful nature of these protests, many are prepared to die for the good of their people, and personally know people who have.

7) Be prepared to experience race as the racial minority

This is the thing I was least prepared for, which changed my life the most. I had been in other contexts where I was a racial minority (say Latin America or Nepal), where I was celebrated for my race or at least acknowledged as neutral.

This is different on “The Rez”. The reality is that most whites coming onto native land over the last 100 years have been exploiting, whether intentionally or not, these indigenous communities. Additionally, the last time there was serious activism on these reservations many of the whites trying to get involved were FBI informants. While all races are genuinely invited to all the camps at Standing Rock, as a white person you will find yourself having to prove yourself to be an exception to the rule. Ironically, this is how I imagine what it is like being a racial minority in America in general, where you have to continuously prove yourself to be the exception to stereotypes imposed on you by the majority culture. If you are paying the slightest bit of attention, you will experience what it is like to be a racial minority with an attached sense of “otherness”, and this will likely change how you view the world.

You will experience what it is like to be a racial minority.You will experience what it is like to be a racial minority.

8) Be aware of the importance of symbolism

It was commonplace for Natives to recount intimate details of some historical massacre in casual conversation. It was normal to see someone carrying around a jar of water, or other item, from a piece of land where hundreds of their people had been massacred by colonialists. Why is there this intimate connection to the past when our own culture swiftly forgets details about anything that happened to our family before our grandparents?

In my opinion, natives have a greater closeness with the history because many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe, with the trials and tribulations of those communities not being completely separate from theirs. It is important to try to navigate these difficult waters so that you aren’t accidentally rubbing someone’s face into an incident that seems like ancient history to you, but might as well have been yesterday for many of your companions.

I made plenty of mistakes when I was out there. One time, I suggested to the people who I was distributing funding and materials with that perhaps we should get some old army surplus wool blankets, as these are cheap, extremely durable, can fit both needs of cold weather garb and sleeping gear. I was gently reminded that many traditionals simply wouldn’t accept blankets from a white man, as the bio-terrorism of our shared history is still remembered quite clearly.

Try and avoid obvious pitfalls like these but also know that while you are there you will make mistakes, I guarantee it. Don’t let a gentle reminder hurt your feelings, as no one is questioning your intentions. It is important to not be defensive, but simply apologize and correct whatever you can.

Many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe.Many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe.

9) Avoid ceremony unless you are explicitly invited

I imagine nearly everyone has the desire to participate in a Native American ceremony, held by some powerful medicine person which facilitates a unique and authentic experience. These protests are not the place to come looking for that.

Moreover, I am sure many hold a desire to gain some kind of spiritual connection with these ancient traditions, and develop a relationship with these ceremonies such that you could hold them with as much power as any Native American you come across. These protests are not the place to demonstrate that.

There is something that can only be described as a deep hunger in white people for authentic, earth-based spirituality. Unfortunately, this hunger is often combined with an unfortunate combination of feeling entitled to be taught these traditions, and a complete lack of cultural awareness. Coming into native space with charged religious symbols, attempting to participate in ceremonies uninvited, or publicly leading new age rituals, patched together from the mutilated parts of other divergent traditions, makes you as complicit in cultural genocide as the racist cops arresting activists at the checkpoint you will be going through.

On my last night camping next to the Missouri River, I was talking late past midnight with one local young man who seemed pretty traditional. I asked him if he was learning the old ways. He replied that he was trying to, but it took a lot of time. His elders and grandparents would often wait months or even years in between teaching or sharing with him aspects of his people’s religion, waiting for the moment that was just right to impart a specific piece of wisdom.

These protests are not the place to come looking for a Native American ceremony.These protests are not the place to come looking for a Native American ceremony.

10) Leave your costume at home

I am incredulous that this actually needs to be said, but apparently a bunch of people feel that they need to literally dress up at this occupation. I would like to ask these people, seriously, if they would consider wearing their sparkle pony fox-eared hat and matching mittens to the marches for women’s suffrage occurring in the 1920s. We are here to support quietly in the background, not flaunt a radical-ragamuffin style that our privilege affords us.

11) Don’t take up space

One odd but unsurprising thing I noticed was that although the protectors were ~95% native, 50% of the individuals who sat closest to the central fire were white. We have a habit of taking up inordinate amounts of space, and often can attempt to make a situation or movement about our own struggle and personal exploration.  Move back and help from the edges so that others can step into the center.

12) Check out this small recommended reading list

Neither Wolf Nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn. This book was recommended to me by my native family when I was first going to help on a reservation years ago, and I found its perspectives indispensable.

Additionally, Standing Rock Allies Resource Packet provides important information on what you need to know before going to Standing Rock. This includes guidelines on joining camp culture and Oceti Sakowin Camp Protocols.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Words By Liam Purvis

Originally posted on Medium

 

Related

An Important Message From Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Chief Arvol Looking Horse’s Message on Water

Why America’s Existential Crisis is Good for the World

Featured

How Dogs Help People Get Along Better

Are You Suffering from Rampant Individualism?

Shenpa and the Art of Not Getting Hooked

Popular

Subscribe to UPLIFT

UPLIFT is dedicated to telling the new story of inspired co-creation.

Get free updates and news about UPLIFT events and films.

channels

Yoga
Wellness
Consciousness
Science
Earth
Peace
Water
Inspiration

UPLIFT

the yoga channel

http://uplift.yoga

follow UPLIFT on   

references

comments

  • Mandy Sue

    I love this, especially Number 11. Thank you.

  • Michelle Abrahmz

    13 Don’t refer to the native people at Standing Rock as protesters or activists. They call themselves Water Protectors or simply, Protectors. When you call them ‘protesters you are looking at what is happening from a white perspective. The Native People at Standing Rock are not protesting anything, they are protecting their own land and water from disastrous exploitation. Use the terminology they use themselves – it’s called respect.

    • JOAN S.

      i like why you said! thank you!

  • Wairoamoi

    Such a clear and informative piece of writing thankyou Liam . And an excellent resource for colonisers anywhere working with indigenous People.

  • Hilary Turner

    I think this is mostly good, I do have a point about number 3. While I agree that non native peoples should fund their own travel to standing rock, I have a problem with you reffering to accupucture as a “new age experience”. It is actually one of the most ancient healing practices that exists, and came from the same area of the world that native people migrated from originally. Everything is i interconnected. Also scientific studies prove the many medical and therapuetic bennifits of accupuncture. So I think providing that for free would have been a great service. I have a friend who is there right now who is a councilor and who is calling more healers to come because of the trauma people are experiencing. I think its also culturally offensive to down grade accupuncture as a “new age experience” its an ancient healing modality.

    • Joanne Yankovich

      Hilary, that is undoubtedly true about acupuncture. But consider still asking Native people there whether it would be welcome, first.

      • Sally Silva

        …or just stand by… they will ask for what they need. You probably know yourself by now whether you are a person with an ego that is easily bruised. Whether you are a person who can’t take instruction without feeling hurt or angry. If you’re not sure… I guarantee you you will get an education when you think you’re giving your best but they aren’t picking up on that. Try to be invisible.

        • Gai Waterlow

          beautiful…

    • Travlingypsy

      Hillary, he didn’t call acupuncture (1 c not 2) a new age experience. That was a different sentence. He was referring to the stealing of culture so that someone could have a ‘new age experience’. The hurried need for people to be shamans in a few years or having any altered kind of experience with peyote or a walking into a sun dance uninvited because you think you deserve to be there without thinking what it means to them. Not to be mean to you but you read that from a very privileged perspective. We will hang dream catchers on our car mirrors. The Native people I know find that offensive. It’s a sacred element for them. Non natives have NO idea of the culture they are walking into. You took what he said personally, part of the point I think he was trying to make. He was talking about them, not us.

      • TEB

        and on the other side of the coin; there are white people who practice the Pagan Animism ways of ancient Europe and when they do, they are often accused of appropriating the culture of Native Americans by Native people. It seems that if you are white you are only allowed to be Christian or Jewish, perhaps Buddhist, anything other than that, you will be accused of appropriation. Ironically none of those OK for white religions is of European origin. We all need to stop being automatically offended by things and actually meet people and find out who they are.

        • Julie Noon

          People I’m sure do not read properly. First it isn’t a religion. Do you have Indigenous native blood? Well if you don’t have the blood line don’t try to be involved in their fight. The native american people have asked not to be involved in the front line fighting. If you wan’t to help please first respect them and the author pointed out what you can do to help. Please don’t make it a racist thing, it isn’t about you.

          • Hilary Turner

            what if its actually about everyone? what if its about learning to accept each other and all of our complexities with peace?

        • Julie Noon

          People I’m sure do not read properly. First it isn’t a religion. Do you have Indigenous native blood? Well if you don’t have the blood line don’t try to be involved in their fight. The native american people have asked not to be involved in the front line fighting and their spiritual activities unless you are invited to do so. If you wan’t to help please first respect them and the author pointed out what you can do to help. Please don’t make it a racist thing, it isn’t about you.

          • Gai Waterlow

            Hi Julie Noon, i’m really glad you only had to say that twice!!! Unbelievable ignorance in white people is born from our deceitful education system that was designed to enslave us all to the elite and i’ve never been proud to be white. Quite the opposite in fact, I feel deep shame being part of the human race that destroys everything sacred and worships consumerism… If my husband and i are fortunate enough to travel to Standing Rock and offer any help in the near future? I’d be more than happy to wash dishes in the Kitchen Tent all day long and listen and learn. I studied Jamie Sams “Sacred Path Cards” for a decade all on my own, which turned my life around at 40 years of age yet i would still walk into Standing Rock, with permission, with a humble open heart and be grateful for the chance to support something more vital than my own life… I have unbounded respect for all Indigenous Cultures and wish to see everyone living freely and abundantly in whichever way they choose. Much love strength and joy to You All, from South Australia
            I’m so so sorry for all the heinous crimes committed against such beautiful People…

      • veggiegrrrl

        bingo! i’m so fed up with white girls calling themselves shamans just because they THINK they are…

      • Hilary Turner

        You know its funny travelingpsy, how you just made a whole lot of assumptions about me. first of all I didn’t make it about me at all, I was simply defending the merits and value of acupuncture and saying it shouldn’t be written off and devalued as a healing modality. But I am going to defend myself since you wanted to attack me personally. You just made a lot of assumptions about my background, knowledge, culture, and experiences. Part of why I said everything is interconnected is that I do have a small amount of Native American ancestry in my family, but I guess if that is not immediately apparent to you then it doesn’t count, but I’d rather honor that part of myself. Not saying I have the right to barge into someone’s space or ceremony uninvited at all, but I do feel as though I am allowed to feel connected to the culture to some degree. Also I actually lived in Brazil for a year and connected with many many aspects of the culture there, so I might have a little broader perspective than you assumed. Did you know the indigenous cultures there also use dream catchers? Culture is a shared thing and sometimes a complicated thing, and not as simple as this ‘us vs. them’ mentality. I grew up with dream catchers being important to me, and I do understand that they are sacred. But thanks for the judgements, not how you create peace.

        • Travlingypsy

          Wasn’t judging you or attacking you. Sorry you took it that way. Was just sharing my experiences with the Native’s in America. I wasn’t making assumptions just commenting on the post. I know that lots of cultures use the Dream Catcher; again sharing experiences with the Natives of this country. No way for me to know anything about you.

    • Reginald Morrsi

      Keep it to yourself.

      • Reginald Morrsi
        • Hilary Turner

          Why? do you keep your opinion to yourself? Isn’t the point of the internet and making comments on posts to have a discussion and share information so we can all broaden our perspectives? Maybe I could just say that you’re being sexist, for telling a woman not to express her opinion. But, that would be making an unfounded assumption about someone I don’t know, which seems to be happening a lot these days. Is spewing anger and hatred around really going to help the world come together and heal?

          • Seaangel

            calm down, Hilary…breath in-breath out (that’s the way!)…feeling any better? good! :-)…remember one of the most important values: HUMILITY? Being humble, respectful and listening to the others (listening really hard- even if you do not like what’s being said)..that’s just as important as your skills you want to share or your background. I am sure you mean well by offering acupuncture service but, please, do realize that acupuncture is a non-Native method and may not be required in the camps. Also (and I am sure you can understand that), the vast majority of Native Americans may not share the “ideas of crazy white men” that they came to the continent from Asia…truth to be told, many do find this “little idea” offensive. As to your origin/background (there is no way of telling your origin on disqus)- I firmly believe the best way to prove your background is to follow the customs of your ancestors- flaring-up is the way of the “white hearts”, it’s not the way of the Native Americans.
            [Yes, I do have a white face, reddish hair and green eyes- just like my late father; no, I do not feel the urge to “prove” my native background -it would be “acting like Ikto”- let other people judge me by my behavior…I prefer to step back, listen and help with whatever is needed (washing up or doing heavy, physical work around the camp? it is an honor to do it!)…after all, my face is white and no matter how may I feel, I do not live within the Native culture- so, without any pretense, I admit I am a guest and act accordingly]

          • Hilary Turner

            Sea angel, is it humble to act morally superior to someone else because they have an idea that is different from yours or an idea that you don’t understand? I believe I have the right to respond to a man who essentially tells me to “shut up” over a comment that he frankly didn’t understand the nature of. Well behaved women are easy, but they seldom make history. Do you think I should say, “oh sorry sir! You didn’t understand or like what I said? oh I’m sorry, I’ll be quiet…”?!? Yeah Right! I have a bit more fire in me than that! Sorry if it bothers you, but it can be a good thing. Furthermore, you misunderstood the situation and what I was saying, I am not trying to offer acupuncture at standing rock, I do not practice acupuncture, but I do understand the therapeutic value of it, and I was defending the idea that someone else had that it would be beneficial to offer it to those who might want it at the camps because many of the people there are suffering from PTSD from the violence being used against them and acupuncture is extremely effective at treating that issue and providing relaxation. I know Native Americans have their own healing practices, but it doesn’t mean that many wouldn’t be open to receiving this ancient modality as well if it was provided. Simple. I don’t know why some people found that so offensive. Further, about the Asia migration thing, some people might take that as offensive, and I get that, but its called DNA! The Taino natives of Puerto Rico were tested and they have DNA that comes from a region of China. Research it, its science. We all originally were one people, came from Africa and migrated out and eventually settled all over the world, what’s offensive about that? Furthermore there is a lot of other evidence of a shared ancient culture. For example, the shamans in the Andes of Peru use an energy healing technique that follows the same meridian system used in acupuncture and the chakra system of India, showing that these are very ancient techniques, most likely used by a shared ancient culture. I know this part is only theory, but people really shouldn’t get offended by theory, if they have a different one, fine. Have a discussion about it. And I am willing to listen, all day. But, don’t act like the thought police, and suppress different ideas, that only stifles new understanding. Discussion of history, science, and anthropology is healthy. Really we shouldn’t be fighting so much anyway, we are allies. I am glad you are there and volunteering, I wish I could be there. I have been spreading awareness, and calling the white house, asking for the president to protect the protector’s human rights and stop the violence against them and say no to the pipeline. Thank you for being there, I wish you all the best.

          • Seaangel

            Thank you, Hilary- I understand you perfectly, I really do. All I was trying to do is to explain to you why other people here do not understand your reasoning (that’s the advantage of being of mixed background- you can see the point from both sides)… I was trying to explain it to you the way my Lakota grandma would put it to me. I am sorry if you got it wrong- humbleness has nothing to do with weakness (“well-behaved women being easy to handle), on the contrary, it requires a lot of strength and self-discipline (I could let my fiery nature- and you can bet, it is devilishly fiery, xi- burst out- that’s very easy, very relaxing and accepted in “white”/mainstream culture…however, it is not accepted in the Native culture- there it is considered foolish/unwise/ “the ways of white men”/ “the ways of a Coyote/Iktomi”). You will find that the Native leaders are the most humble of all…I do understand your belief in the scientific explanation of the world ( I reside in the UK where people are positively obsessed with science!)- and I am not going to approve or disapprove of it. There may be a good deal of truth in it. However, the vast majority of the Native American creation myths begins and ends within the continent…and none of them mentions that their ancestors came from Asia or Africa. And so, to suggest the scientific explanation to a person who genuinely believes that the Creator put him/her (and all his/her ancestors) on the Turtle Island, is foolish…and however well-meant, you may offend the other side. Now, you may think that the Native Americans get offended easily- that is not so. Most of the time, they are just genuinely scared of you, if you behave like a “white man” – they went through a LOT of abuse and humiliation both in the past and in the present- so much that many people will prefer to clam up and keep away from the aggressive, noisy, disrecpectful “white man”. It is a trauma that is very difficult to overcome (I know that only too well- being born in a country that discriminates anybody who has other than white, Catholic background- I know what it means to be an outcast…and then moving to the UK and being discriminated for being born in a “wrong” country)…and I am always so proud of the Natives who do try and fight their fears! You know, breaking the ice is very much about patience, respect and love- if the other person is deeply distrusting you (because a person similar to you in appearance, behavior etc did hurt/humiliate/abuse them), do not expect they will reach out for you- it is up to YOU to show that you are the very opposite of this abusive “white man”- it is up to you to prove that you have the same values as the Natives and that you do stick to these values in every aspect of your life.
            Thank you for all your support! All the best!

          • Gai Waterlow

            Such beautiful wisdom… I am very sadly a reactive woman and found your words to be more inspiring than many words i read today Seaangel… Thank you Seangel and Hilary for exposing the glaringly obvious to me: understanding that 99.5% of white people cannot be quiet long enough to really hear the truths of something unknown to them. I look forward to the day when white society stops worshipping the mind and learns to run all thoughts through Our Hearts first before speaking, something i’m still learning to do. Love to All. I have had profound experiences of Spirit and the Oneness but rarely speak of them. 🙂

  • continuallyamazed63

    WE have so much to learn about each other. Not just native American culture, but every culture. We need to be learning about each other’s cultures all over the world. We need to know each other and respect each other.

    • Misty Jones

      Yes clearly we do. But this particular article is about the Native American culture. So if you want to start talking about all the other cultures, then write your own article about all the other cultures. You can call it “All Cultures Matter” because you got in your feelings over this article focusing on Native American Culture.

    • anditern

      Your statement is racist as it ignores that Indigenous cultures and
      languages were brutally, legally, violently, suppressed for centuries.
      We get European cultures and history crammed down our throats all
      through school curriculum, university, media and everywhere every single day. Go away
      with your disingenuous, syrupy let’s pretend this is all about mutual
      respect and hold hands statement.

  • Travlingypsy

    I too have spent time on reservations here and in Central America. Non Natives have no idea what they are walking into. You are absolutely correct in the article. One thing I would add; some of us want to help and cannot take the time to go and stand. Sending money, which they are requesting, is not a bad thing. I agree just writing a check and then forgetting about is one way of doing and not the best. But it is naive to think that this is everyone’s perspective and intention. It isn’t. I would also add that if you have a skill, put it in your back pocket and wait to see if it is appropriate to offer it. I have made my living as a healer for over 25 years. I never intend to use it when I travel but if someone is in need I offer what I have. It has always been appreciated and it has also opened the door to invitations into that culture. Always show deep respect for a way of life you probably know nothing about and let them lead the way, you’ll learn much and be able to make some friends along the way.

  • Brenna

    It is a war over there. They are spraying those poor people with cannons. They are doing things to make them all vomit. It is war and the press is on lock down. They don’t want anyone to know what they are doing to them!

  • TEB

    While I understand what you are trying to convey with your first point I would say the true goal is not the tribes coming together, that just happened spontaneously. The true goal is to protect the water by stopping the pipeline. It is because of this true goal that so many of the other tribes of NA people and people of other cultures are supporting that goal. You cannot heal the subjugation of a people by subjugating yourself, any more than a victim can heal their wounds by becoming a victimiser. People need to come together with respect for the gift that every individual heart brings.

  • Lyle Bingham

    remember that there is only one group to ever extract an unconditional military surrender from the Unites States of America: the Lakota nation.

    The only time I remember was the unconmilitary surrender of all US Forces in The Philippines to the Empire of Japan. What surrender ceremony are you referring to?

    • Liam Purvis

      Although our history books rarely frame it as a surrender, the Ft. Laramie treaty was only signed after all US military voluntarily abandoned their forts in the Sioux homeland, which were promptly burned to the ground. Only then was Red Cloud willing to even talk about negotiations. If that isn’t an unconditional surrender, I don’t know what is.

      • egyptian42

        What about a 2 or 3 hour class for incoming helpers to help them know what and what not to do?

  • Ryan Clapp

    Really helpful, as I debate whether or not it’s ultimately more harmful or helpful to organize a trip up with mostly white friends and activists. We’re using this as a resource to see if everyone’s on the same page.

    • Liam Purvis

      The message I am hearing is that everyone who can be self sustaining in a South Dakotan winter and is thinking about going should go.

    • veggiegrrrl

      just send $$$. it’s too cold now. the government is closing the roads.

  • Anika Salguero

    HI there is a big disconnect between donations and the needs of the people sacred stone is a small camp and they have more than a million dollars. The big camp Oceti Sakowin has 80% of the people and is not getting donations. Please add Ocetisakowincamp.org as a link to truly help the people in Standing Rock!

    • happygolucky

      i started a facebook page called Standing Rock Rising Up..I used this link ,,,I am targeting supplies for the horses. We are funding our own way to take up supplies we have gathered locally. Hoping my page will generate some funds for the big camp,

    • Birkolator .

      easier to type sacred stone than the traditional camp 7 Council Fire name, often misspelled name too. one on private owned land, to become a permanent other corps/unceded Tribal..Lots of misunderstanding and true-Oceti Sakowin is big. Will promote it more. where does the Stand With Standing Rock. net funds go? which Tribe manages?

  • Anika Salguero

    Also I have started a gofund to bring in yurts for the community this is for a wellness center please see https://www.gofundme.com/Community-Yurts-4-Standing-Rock

  • Joop Moerkens

    Liam, I am very interested in what you mention about how Native Americans organize things. Could you be more specific? In what aspects is their way of handling things different from the usual western way (in most cases highly structured, highly organized, highly rationalized). They apparently do things different, and according to your observations, effectively. What are your observations about the the pro’s and con’s of both ways. I am simply curious.

  • happygolucky

    on our way next week..We will be self sustaining with lots of donations for the camps gathered locally. Your article is very helpful in our efforts to gather the appropriate items. Whatever we use to keep ourselves warm and safe we are leaving including our coats….

  • KSmiley

    There is a woman farmer in Iowa who is begging for help to stop the pipe line from crossing her farm. She has been fighting them all the way, but they have cited “eminent domain”. It is a long pipe line that needs to cross many rivers, the Mississippi too. Water is Life for all of us.,

    • Sally Silva

      That might be an option for some to go there that are unable to understand and respect other cultures.

      • veggiegrrrl

        FLINT would also be a good place.

        • Dee Dean

          Yes! Flint.

  • Tammy

    WE HAVE DONE MANY WRONG IN THE PAST LETS ALL Join Together and Fight this as 1 Nation Against the corruption of Greed

  • ePeach

    Liam, your article is right on, and much needed, as I am a non-native and have worked in Oceti Sakowin Camp. Doing intensive study on what to expect, and ways in which cultural sensitivity is vital only touched the tip of the iceburg for me. Listening, asking for guidance and deferring to others was the only way to do the endless hours of hard labor required, whether in a kitchen, wood pile or Medic and Healer area. I saw too many disaster surfers, rainbow children, cosmic hitch-hikers and ego-driven nut jobs draining the critical resources of the camps, and sitting at the fires taking up space. You are correct, this is no place for a holiday, and the Native tribes represented in camps impressed me as most capable of taking this Prayerful Stand with 110% intention to honor their ways of being in harmony with all Life.

  • Angelika Bröder

    The whole world must know what happening at Standing Rock. We are the ones our parents have always warned us about. Let us be the circling arousal in the universe and put an end to these injustices. For the people and the nature of our Mother Earth

  • Jabezabella2013

    Years ago(1983) I was asked to attend a Native American Ceremonial event with a Native American friend. One thing she told me was not to take pictures of the participants, and (I thought this one rather odd at the time) she asked if I was bleeding or would be starting soon. It seems that a woman’s energy balance can be off kilter at this time, and could create a problem.

  • May Turner

    It appears you are judging one self by the complexion of their skin, and not their genealogy background. Everyone knows there isn’t one Native American or Indigenous person left in America whose blood is 100% authentic but has been tainted and compromised. Therefore the illusion of what a true native american looks like has been distorted through history. I agree and am for my native ancestors and relatives participating in the Standing Rock, but lets not make this a racist fight and misjudge people on the basis of skin color. The ones doing this is practicing selfish disintegration of genocidal culture and not trying to uplift those who need to uplifted. Remember, the Great Spirit/Most High is the only one who can judge not any of us.

  • Karl

    Every human being has an ethnicity, and every ethnic tribe is indigenous to someplace.

    The best way to help a foreign tribe is to build up your own tribe.

    ethnic Africans should focus on that place where their tribe is indigenous.

    ethnic Europeans should focus on that place where their tribe is indigenous

    ethnic Hebrews should focus on the place where theit tribe is indigenous.

    • Hilary Turner

      what about people who are mixed? this is a somewhat narrow view point in a complicated world. We are all interconnected and people should be able to share whatever culture with any group that they please as long as they are welcome, humble and acting peacefully. Why does everyone want to divide everything and everyone up? The Hopis spoke about a future rainbow tribe that would bring peace, and I believe in that.

  • Kathy Shultz

    Amazingly well put..finally!!!!! A piece of honest non ego journalism ♡

  • Marianne Flanagan

    I found this to be extremely helpful. One thing people tend to forget is that when we want to help someone, we must put their needs first, Helping is about doing what is needed as opposed to what will make us feel good about ourselves.

  • crafte1too

    My Mother, her Mother, and her Father were Chickasaw. My Mother’s Aunt is on the Dawes roll. She was proud of her heritage as was my Mother. My Father’s great great grandmother was on the Trail of Tears. Right now I want to stand with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and pray for their safety and success.

  • veggiegrrrl

    Crazy-ass white women from San Francisco and Portland… you are not shamans or healers. Leave your cultural appropriation and grandiose ego at home.

    • Hilary Turner

      you seem to be doing an awful lot of hating. not helpful. Do you know what it means to be a healer? cause they come from every single culture and they put out an energy that is opposite of hate.

  • Josie Wales

    I can not be at Standing Rock at the present time, but I do operate an on-line radio station and several hours a day are devoted to news and updates from the camp. Videos with relevant, truthful and accurate content are converted to mp3 files and placed in a daily schedule. Some of the content providers include, Digital Smoke Signals, Uprising TV, TYT Politics, RT America, Lavonne Cox,
    Using the “Tune In app” that is available for FREE is the easiest to listen to the 24/7 stream. https://tunein.com/get-tunein/
    station is identified as Mocko Zombies

    http://tunein.com/radio/Mocko-Zombies-s236473/

    providing at least two hours a day, (an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon EST.) of information of what is happening in Standing Rock. No commercial interruptions to the programs.

  • Christine Trionfetti

    i thank you for your words are right on ..i have thought a lot of about going …its not the 60 any more and we are protecting the water …i am here on my tiny piece of land trying to protect my water …as i have said many a times in the last 20 or so years on the land ….its not my land i have always felt like a caretaker not owed …i am old now and i have not enough money here even to make a fire and keep myself warm …to make a fire is a sacrifice for me and soon its going to come down to food bills or fire …so i have not gone for all the reasons you have said ..so i sit and pray and watch …its hard knowing that i maybe can help in the kitchen but i do not know the cold …i sit here and its maybe 55 in my house …and my body is not kind to me in the cold …so i will sit and watch and pray we know without water they is no life …so i wait and pray …and hope the protecter will over come and the pipes will not go though …we are all downstream..we all need clean water …

  • michael

    Many years ago I was afforded a rare and unique experience. I was cast into a group of young native men who were given the opportunity to reconnect with their roots…I lived and worked with them for 6 years. I was curious and asked to join their their circle in the second year…tentatively I was accepted but denied participation in the ceremonies but was invited stand outside and listen and watch. I will always remember the one young man who was so adamant against a non native being part of their group. Maybe it was the passing of a year or so, when one night at a moon lite inipi ceremony that he asked me to enter into the inipi with him.. He warned me to avoid the “Jesus” seat…the hottest spot in the inipi, well, you can imagine where I ended up! Perhaps there was always some bond or connectivity in the perspective that the elders were trying to pass on to these young men that drew me to this circle. I developed a bond and an awareness of what these people had and were (been) going through….and a deep spiritual awareness of who I was and what I believed in. I will never forget the elder talking about how we will probably never complete all the ceremonies and we would never participate in the Wiwanke Wachipi…years later I was invited to participate and was a little dismayed to see brothers sneaking hamburgers at night into the tipis, but each must find their road…which I guess is my point in this post…yes, there are lots of ignorant non-natives who look for all the wrong reasons…we dance for the people, we pray for the earth…in confronting these ignorant children, I ask that you treat them as children…don’t admonish them but guide and teach them as you would a child. I believe that Stand Rock is the epicenter of a revolution of the coming together of people of the earth from around the world. When I ended up marrying a native woman I was given a cross of the four directions- yellow, red, black and white. When the Lakota people pray or do anything sacred, they see the world as having four directions. From these four directions come the four winds. Each direction has a special meaning and color associated with it. The cross symbolizes all directions. I fought for the people and the government gave me 6 years for my efforts, my future wife supported me and waited for my release, saying I was the first white person she ever met that fought for her people. We have 4 mixed race children. I believe this is the future if there is to be a future, but we must fight…together.

  • ELIUD NJAI

    we can push this further by making sure many people around the world know whats happening this way we can shame the government for its actions,free country my ass

  • Bianca

    Thank you for your very wise words. Just a great piece of work. Helpful and valuable.

  • Sashimoro

    I see so many posts on here about native blood vs non native blood. Or how much native blood qualifies for certain types of participation and white priviledge non sense against people that are legitimately capable and trying to help. Let’s FOCUS on the goal: All humans respecting self, other and nature and henceforth living in a win/win mutual symbiotic relationship with all life. This ultimately has NOTHING to do with skin tone or blood line. If you go far enough back we are all from same cosmic source anyway. This is about recognizing UNITY in our self first and manifesting it outwardly from that point. The more you can recognize unity the more you will vibrate unity, the more you will think unity, the more you will act out unity. This is life resolving its conscious separation by raising its vibration and ALL WILL PARTICIPATE. The more lines we draw and hold the longer and harder it’s going to be. So, I encourage you, do not listen to those who will you shame you for being white or whatever you are and cannot change. Do not listen when they tell you it is not your fight. They are low minded and do not understand themselves well enough yet. Do fight to raise your vibration and the vibrations around especially in critical ares like Standing Rock. Stand up and let your heart lead the way.

  • Valerie Wedel

    Thank you for this article. Clear, to the point.

  • Judith Becker

    yep. give yourself your full strength – by giving the full strength to others.

    what happens right now at Standing Rocks is one of the most important things that happened in a very long time. Native Indians find back to their roots, re-find their strength. And thus we are invited to find our strength.
    It is the big chance to heal. Finally.
    I feel a deep gratitude.

  • Wendy Thacker

    I agree and understand the purpose behind this but as a person of Native decent, though I would know not to sit close to the fire as respect for the elders and full bloods has been instilled upon me, I ask that you please not assume that because a person is fair or “white” that they are not Native, to some degree. One of my great-grandmothers came off of the reservation and another was also of Native decent, but I am fair and “white.”

  • Lorenzo Ciacciavicca

    Hello, I’d like to hear some opinions. I’d like to work on a thetre performance telling the story of this fight and the fight against oil, the problems of megaprojects passing on people health and security. I would not make money out of this, it would be meant as informing people of the facts (which in Italy now are not known almost at all) and to serve in awork about envorionmental respect and human rights). Reading this post in point 3 it seems this would be somehow bad for you, so I would like to know more. I wouldn’t want to dilute native culture neither work on something meant as native culture, I would just work through this on a general topic to ally with lots of fights against megaprojects endangering people and mother earth. Let me know what you think. Thanks. Lorenzo from Florence, Italy.

    • Lorenzo Ciacciavicca

      Reading again your post, I guess my idea is more journalistic that you were saying.

  • Aparks Parks, Amy

    I donated $25 and want all the money goes towards the families who are out there fighting against the Pipeline

  • wendy

    thank you for this helpful info.

  • Dee Dean

    Thank You for your work. We just found your resource and love it. Our contribution to Standing Rock (and beyond) is creative and a bit “analog” in the approach – https://www.tangiblevoices.com – was born from our response to help our Water Protectors kin on the front lines. I share with you all because we need each other…
    I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the current affairs, and sitting here taking in your work I am rejuvenated.
    Please visit our Call To Action site TangibleVoices.com. and check out our post card mailing drive we’ve curated using the many images of the abuses. Cards are ready to mail to our elected officials voicing our concerns for the ills we have witnesses. So check it and let’s collaborate towards Lift’ing Every Voice… You are needed in this choir.

    – Dee from the Tangible Voices Crew, Jenner, CA
    (www.tangiblevoices.com)

UPLIFT Logo

UPLIFT media channel is dedicated to telling the new story of inspired co-creation. Working together, we can create a better world for all.