Our Journey to Standing Rock, October 2016,
Siddharta's Search for Home
1. The youth runners that inspired hundreds of tribes, and thousands of people of all colors and religions to join hands and prayers to protect Mne Wicone (Water is Sacred), returned after yet another run to awaken the world.
Native American and Indigenous Tribes' Flags from around the world, symbolizing unity, lined the road into the Sacred Camp
The youth returned again to Standing Rock shortly after Siddharta and I had arrived..
How Standing Rock began, begins with their story: A MUST READ..Click here to read
(if not now, please return in the future to be inspired!)
2. They were preceded by horsemen and support cars, that accompanied them on their long journey.
The camp was prepared to honor these brave, inspired, courageous youth
3. At its height, 10,000 people were gathered from around the world to protect and honor
4. Mne Wicone The life blood of the Lakota People can be seen just beyond the camps. Early every morning, the Lakota Women led Women from all walks of life in silence to the Sacred Waters.
2. Siddharta and I arrived at Standing Rock, just after the camp had begun to decrease in size,but before the all out militarization and attacks had begun.
. Tribal drumming and prayer songs filled the night as the full moon cast its light over the people of all colors who gathered as one light to Protect Life!
Siddharta's Search for Home
Standing Rock and Siddharta’s Search for Home
First of all, I want to apologize for the delay in this latest update! Last week we buried a dear friend who was more than a second Mom to my children. She was younger than me, and had not let many people know of her illness.
It also was a bit of a steep learning curb for me to upload and size and script the Standing Rock pictures. That said, now I will tell the story.
Getting Off the Planet and Going Home
In mid 2016 Siddharta began speaking about wanting to “get off the planet and go home!” I would ask where that was, and he would just repeat that he wanted to get off the planet and go home.
I did ask him if getting off the planet meant that he wanted to die and he very clearly replied no…and would again repeat the desire to go home. Not knowing how to respond when he occasionally would bring it up time and time again, I would just, for the most part, try and ignore him. As time passed on he began to insist that he needed to take a road trip to find home. So with no destination in mind, I would drive him one or two hours north, then on another day, trips south, another day just driving for an extended period of time, until he became tired or I became tired and we would return home.
To the Airport, Train and Bus Station to Find Home
Still not finding home, he began to beg me to take him to the airport. Being an African American man with a big scruffy beard, long thick wide unusual dread platts, and often mistaken by his dress and lack of hygiene, as a person without a home, I ignored the request as long as I could. He had no specific destination in mind, and our airport is hyper about possible “security risk!”
Alas, after he threatened to catch a bus and go by himself, I gave in. At night, on the drive to the airport, again I ask where do you think you want to go, they will want to know. He only responded “Home.”
I parked and we went into the airport together. He went straight to the reader boards and squinted as he methodically scanned the boards from top to bottom. When he finished, he looked around, and then walked slowly toward the ticketing agent. Because it was pretty late, there were no lines. I accompanied him. He told her “I want to go Home.” She responded, “Sure, I can help you, where is home?” He responded with hope and a very real seriousness, “ I don’t know, that’s what I want you to help me with.” My heart broke. She looked at me quizzically and I responded, “yes, I am his mother, and I don’t know where the home is he is searching for, and he begged me to bring him here so he could find it.” She nodded as if to understand what was trying to happen and sincerely responded to him that she was sorry but could not help him.
We left, only after I agreed to take him next to train station. Reluctantly, upon arrival at the train station, I accompanied him again, and watched the same heartbreaking scenario occur again, and then again, even later that night at the bus station.
The Arrest: the Next Step Toward Standing Rock
AlthoughhHeartbreaking, I thought these 3 visits would end the drive to find home. Yet, this journey would repeat itself, over a period of time, 2 more times, until I finally said “NO, I am not taking you there anymore!”
It was then he chose to take the bus to the airport on his own. I was scared but felt he would chicken out before actually going into the airport. A few hours past and I became very concerned. I then checked the inmate list at the Portland, OR jail. My worst fears had come true. Instead of standing and staring at the reader boards, he was staring at a kiosk. A stranger standing at the kiosk next to him, saw him as danger…”if you see something. Say something” was the PA system message, and to her, he was the something she should report. He was arrested and charged with loitering, a misdemeanor, and was released the next day. We never did go to court, but I knew I had to do something!
Could Standing Rock Become Home
About this time, the news about Standing Rock was finding its way more and more into the press. Tribes and other people were gathering from all over to stand with and as witness to protect their Sacred Land and Mne Wicone!
Siddharta’s great great grandmother was Native American. Also, he had been mentored in his teens by a Native American, who took him weekly to the Native Sweat lodge and shared their teachings. He had also been connected to an African Shaman, that had “read Siddharta’s path” and strongly insisted that Siddharta’s healing path was in nature; “he needed to commune with the Earth and spend time laying on the Earth.”
I began to wonder if maybe being immersed in the sound of Native American Song and Drumbeats, laying on the earth, meeting Indigenous healers from many tribes; maybe, just maybe, he might find home. thus, when Standing Rock Indigenous Leader, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, put out the call to come prepared, but come and stand with them, I decided that Siddharta and I would answer the call.
With my last loan from school, I began to prepare for a trip and long stay at Standing Rock! (with the possibility that we might stay through the winter). I told Siddharta we were going on a long road trip to North Dakota and maybe he would find home.
The road trip itself seemed like a healing balm for him. We left October 6 on a beautiful, brisk, fall morning. It was so deeply satisfying to watch his teeth grinding and clenched jaw slowly fade away as the miles accumulated on the speedometer. Even his voices seemed to move into a more chilled vibe and enjoy the ride.
We only had one car breakdown; thank goodness for AAA who towed us the last 100 plus miles to the nearest city near Standing Rock. And thank goodness for a young man at our motel, who knew the secrets of a 99Cent can of pepper to seal a leaking radiator. It really worked!!!
At STANDING ROCK
The next morning we left the motel for Standing Rock. After stopping very briefly on the highway at the military-like roadblock, we were waved on. A few miles further and we entered Sacred Ground…A hundred or more flags lining the dusty road, were waving in the gentle breeze. Colorful teepees, tents, and trailers filled the landscape, and in the distance the Cannonball River ---Mne Wicone ---and earth brown mountains rose up behind it. (picture #1)
Many tribes and people who had arrived together had created mini villages with their own flag, campfire, and tribal songs. We found a space to set up our tents, and before long, a young man in tribal dress was there to help us set up camp. Upon departing, many would leave their tents, sleeping bag and supplies to welcome the next wave of witnesses and protectors to arrive.
Sunrise was filled with the call from the elder to arise and join the drum and prayer circle at the main gathering place. For those who did not gather, the sound of drumming and prayer songs filled the air, sometimes from the main gathering, sometimes from the mini-village next to you. Meals were served in big canvas tents spread all over and anyone was welcomed to participate in meal prep for the thousands of protectors and witnesses present. Many also cooked their own meals in their mini-village.
Siddharta said very little, and interacted very little. He would sometimes stand in line or sometimes ask me to bring him a plate of food when I would go get mine. Probably another reason he asked me to get his is because the elder first rule, was very strictly honored. I was very grateful for that! He spent most of his time laying on the ground on his sleeping bag in the open air. The violent attacks by the militarized police had not yet begun, and the before sunrise Water protector marches were not his calling.
I really tried to stay tuned into the possibility of a mentor and to get a sense if we should plan on staying for the long haul. At one time, I had a conversation with one of the lead elders about why I had brought Siddharta to Standing Rock. I began to wonder if perhaps it was the road trip that was most needed, as well as just being in the vibration of red, white, black, and yellow people standing as One to protect the Earth! At some point, I let go of finding “home” for Siddharta at Standing Rock...
I joined the Native American Women who lead us to Mne Wicone for an early morning Sacred Water Ritual and mid-week was honored to welcome the arrival of the youth runners, some of whom, actually were the inspiration and beginning of the Standing Rock. Shortly after that incredible empowering evening, just about 1 week after we arrived, Siddharta gave the word that it was time to leave. I trusted his intuition and I packed up most of camp, left a tent, super warm high tech snow boots, some cooking equipment, and a below freezing sleeping bag, for the coming witness and protectors, and said goodbye.
What We Were Destined to Miss
Within a week or so, after we left, some of the most cruel, continuous, and militarized attacks began on the Water Protectors, with hundreds arrested and put in cages. Within a month after we left one of the worst winter storms began; below zero temperatures, blizzard like winds, freezing ice, shortage of fuel.
Those that stayed and took a stand despite the military attacks, despite the blizzard conditions, are my heroes and heroines. After witnessing the conditions under which they survived, I don’t think that Siddharta and I would have survived, either the cruel and brutal attacks and arrest, or the hardships of such a brutal winter.
I do believe that when the final tent was removed, and the final protectors arrested, that the final word lay as seeds in the frozen ground, waiting for the perfect thaw to rise again! Carrying the mantra “We Are Still Here!” “The People Will Rise and the People will create a world that is a win-win for all!”