It’s been about a year since thousands of people were arriving each day from all over the world to join the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota nations on the Dakota plains, to protect the Missouri River. The camps are gone now, but the awakening to protect the water, land, and tribal sovereignty continues in Oceti Sakowin territory.
But first, people had to heal.
Last week, I joined the Mní Wičoni Healing Gathering, near Porcupine Creek at Standing Rock. The water protectors returned. Those who had spent time over the past year in this place creating community, praying, and standing strong traveled from distant places to once again pray, laugh, and heal. I personally was in need of this medicine and was grateful. For over half a year, I documented the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline and wanted to see how other folks were doing. This time around, the energy was reflective. It felt like the end of a chapter, and a transition to new front lines. The fire at Oceti Sakowin taught us that, in fact, we carry its flame within us and that there is no turning back.