The biggest news from standing rock is that the protest is not over. There are still close to a thousand protestors encamped in Areas around Oceti camp which was shut down by the government. While many protestors are still in a state of shock after being removed from the land they had occupied for nearly a year, this is an incredibly tough breed of activist. The largest and most organized of the remaining camps is Sacred Stone, where I am now encamped. While many are leaving, new protestors are arriving daily. I spent Friday picking up trash and helping to erect tipis that had been salvaged from Oceti.
I came in response to a plea on facebook from "The Women of Standing Rock" for people to join them before the Army Corps of Engineers destroyed their camp. I didn't arrive in time for that, but I have since spoken to several women who were on that video, and they've all thanked me for coming, which I found incredible, given the sacrifices they've made over the past year. Yet thanksgiving is part of the culture of this camp. People are constantly thanking each other for the smallest kindness, and though there is grief and anger here over the loss of Oceti camp and the resumption of pipeline construction, there is still much joy, love, and laughter.
This is a new breed of warrior/activist. Mostly woman-led, they have suffered multiple arrests, physical abuse, and the privations of a North Dakota winter, but their spirit is unbroken. And Spirit is another important part of the culture of this camp. This morning at breakfast, an elder launched into traditional style songs he had written about the occupation. Elders are respected here, as are Veterans. The news in camp this morning is that the police have set up checkpoints on the road into Sacred Stone camp, possibly in preperation for attacking this one, as they did Oceti. Meanwhile, the machines destroying the Earth continue their constant drone on the next hill over from camp. Stadium style lighting is strung up all along the hill leading down to the river. The machines run constantly.
All this is taking place against a backdrop of absolute beauty. I saw several bald eagles as I was driving around, trying to find a way in to the protest. Last night, I was awoken by howling coyotes. One theme that I've heard again and again from people who've been here for many months is their disbelief that the rest of us can sit calmly by as DAPL and the thousand pipelines like it are destroying the Earth.
As of Sunday morning, most people have decided to leave.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs now says it will raid Sacred Stone camp and all remaining camps Sunday or Monday.