North Dakota

Further Reflections on Standing Rock

In November, my son and I travelled to North Dakota to support the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. I was going there to support the Medic + Healers at the Oceti Sakowin camp and my son to help build. Before leaving, I was reluctantly interviewed and one of the questions was, “What expectations do you have?” My response was “None. Well, I expect we won’t want to leave.” I was right, we didn’t want to leave. And there is no way that I could’ve expected what I experienced. I wrote in another blog about my experience of Beauty and community. All of this is true and these experiences have continued to feed my Heart and add more fuel to my long-held vision of a more Loving world. I believe that it is these experiences that have enabled my deeper, unravelling experiences from Standing Rock. It has taken me some time to be able to share these and to be completely honest, I continue to be in the midst of working through them.

We are encouraged to attend at least 1 morning meeting at Oceti Sakowin. The day that I went, my Heart was filled by the prayers and being reminded of the 7 Lakota Values (Prayer, Respect, Compassion, Honesty, Generosity, Humility, Wisdom). We then moved to another building for the orientation portion. It was here that my world came tumbling down. During one of the announcements, we were reminded that our country was founded as a white supremacist patriarchal society. My first instinct, was “No way!” I grew up not far from Philadelphia and regularly visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I know that our founding fathers were not perfect, but come on! A split second later, it happened. “Oh my gosh! It was! I live in a white supremacist, patriarchal country!”

Suddenly I started seeing things in a completely different manner. To add to this, I witnessed racism like I’ve never seen before. Here, in North Dakota, it was expected and considered normal. I don’t know how to put this in words. The energy from this was thick, grey, gross, and suffocating. Despite dealing with racism every day, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota continued.

I grew up reading history books about the genocide of Native Americans. I remember being appalled to learn of the Trail of Tears or the Land grabs or the small pox blankets. I always thought that if I was alive then, I would do what I could to stop this.

So here I was, standing in a camp of Beauty surrounded by thousands of Native Americans from hundreds of Nations all whose very existence is a sign of resistance. For they and their Ancestors survived having their Land, children, religion, language, and food taken from them. They have survived biological and chemical warfare. And they continue to deal with significantly higher than average poverty, incarceration, violence, rape, drug and alcohol abuse along with a significantly lower availability of health care. A brief stroll through statistics is Heartbreaking. I discovered another lie, the genocide has not stopped. It has been ongoing since the first white settlers arrived, though the form changes. And these survivors greeted me with open arms saying, “Welcome Home!”

I came home from Standing Rock with a giant mix of emotions. (I think it was also significant that we left for Standing Rock on the day that Donald Trump became the President elect.) I was overwhelmed by the Beauty and community that I witnessed. While feeling like my world was unraveling and my frames of perception were ripped off. I was open and raw and lost. And I didn’t want to change this. I wanted to continue through it. For too long, I was living with false perceptions and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I knew racism existed and witnessed it and tried to change it. But the fact that I could be 40 years old and be surprised that our country was founded on white supremacy, showed me just how big my white privilege was.

So I unraveled. On the physical level, this lead to an illness with fevers and loss of consciousness that left me bedridden for about a week. As I recovered physically, I continued to process. When I discovered that Donald Trump was elected, my response was to Love more, to be even more gentle and kind, to be even more dedicated to healing. Now, a new layer began. I started to feel the wounds we have been carrying for generations, including the wounds of the Holocaust. We carry so much from our past and until we heal these, we continue to be effected, all of us. I allowed these to move through me as I focused on transmuting them with Love.

As always, I called to the Plants and my other helping guides to help me be a vessel of transmutation and to help my body adjust to these new perspectives. I continue to ask for help and guidance from the Plants while I continue to unravel and find my Truth.

We live in this incredible time. I keep feeling like I have stepped into one of my history books. The truth is we are living herstory. We have the opportunity to heal the wounds of our past - remembering that both oppressors and oppressed were harmed - and we have the power to shift our paradigm to benefit the future.

One of my great lessons from Standing Rock is that together we are strong. I share my experiences in the hopes that together we can remove the facades and allow our healing. Together we can shift this white supremacist, patriarchal paradigm in which we live to one that is inclusive, celebrates diversity, and is based on Love.