My Trip to North Dakota for the Standing Rock Water Protectors

By Central Oregon Coast NOW Member  Dorothy Blackcrow

The eviction of #NODAPL Water Protectors’ three camps is scheduled to occur on December 5.

I spent three days around Thanksgiving in Standing Rock, ND, mostly at Standing Rock Community School. Around twenty of us Code Pink, Buddhists and locals chopped many varieties of squash, white, yellow and purple potatoes, carrots and celery, while others roasted 210 turkeys in the school’s ovens. Still others worked on stuffing and gravy, opening cans of chicken broth and cranberries. For two days we cooking & prepped food to feed 2000 people, including local Fort Yates residents, Jane Fonda, and school drivers who bussed many people in from the #NODAPL Oceti Sakowin camps to tables and chairs in the School’s Auditorium. One whole wall was filled with hand-drawn cards of encouragement from children all over the US.

As a result, I saw little of the camp – but it is HUUUUGE. Vehicles are a must to get around, since everything is so far apart: The Camp is to the north, where Highway 1806 is blocked off at the north gate; ten miles south is the Casino with showers, food, and other amenities, but no rooms available because of many photo-journalists and celebrities. Another ten miles further south is the Standing Rock Elementary and High School complex, and five miles further, Sitting Bull College. Further east is the town and Standing Rock Tribal Office in Fort Yates.


Since I had no car, it became clear to me that I could either stay at the Camp and take pictures, or stay at the High School and peel potatoes with the native women and children, and our work crew of twenty. So I took no pictures: for one, I came to help feed people – a basic native value – and two, I was overwhelmed by the invasion of photojournalists busy with deadlines for a story, who didn’t think to ask permission to film or interview natives, outsiders who didn’t notice that many Traditionals avoid or flinch at the intrusion of iphones and cameras.

On Thursday in the dark I attended a 5am fire and prayer circle at the North Gate Oglala camp with about a hundred at the beginning, but by the end of the prayers and speeches in Lakota, plus the Filling the Sacred Pipe Ceremony to open the day, about five hundred stood behind us in the circle. During this time large snowflakes fell gently on us, shining like small Water Protectors.

Newport Drum Circle and others at the fundraiser, Thank you for your support.

Dorothy Black Crow, author of

The Handless Maiden: A Lakota Mystery



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