One of the most amazing things about participating in the Standing Rock water protection movement is the commitment of all of us to non-violent direct prayer ceremony and action. Sitting here right now it is hard not to fuel the rage that is building in me, directed very pointedly towards the orange bag of hot air sitting in the Oval Office. I know many of us are thinking, if only we could pop that foul balloon, everything would be ok, the EIS wouldn't be revoked and native land wouldn't again be subjected to the desecration that has been the signature of U.S. colonialism since inception.
But if there is one thing that this election has taught many of us, it's that there are some very major wounds in the heart of this project called America. Yes, I use that word knowing full well it seeks to subsume the land north and south of it, to presume front and centre. The thing that is so fascinating about a black hole is that it is a force you can feel but cannot see. Maybe it's not the best analogy for what is happening in our government right now because they are all right there. Yup, all those white men are very visible, but if you imagine that this is a gathering of force that is visible but yet untouchable, perhaps that is closer to the heart of it. How many of us truly truly believe that with enough calls to our senators we can actually get the little orange hot bag of air to shift a policy like the Dakota Access Pipeline? If I search my heart of hearts, that is not the way.
Direct action at the pipeline site has become almost impossible due to the blockades and approved military force. We saw on November 20th what the North Dakota police force is willing to do to peaceful protectors of Mother Earth. I was there. I felt the sting of the gas and I will forever hold a pain in my heart watching as icy water was sprayed at my brothers and sisters of all ages in below freezing weather conditions. I was there when flash bang grenades shook our bodies. I was there when Grandmothers were arrested and sacred objects smashed. I too could not sleep because low-flying planes loomed overhead and they robbed us of the night sky with their wasteful bright lights. I saw young people worrying about their post-traumatic stress, their eyes puffy from pepper spray, dance and smile when beautiful music was gifted to the camp. I was hugged by a Grandma who fed thousands of people each week because she knew her gifts were necessary to nourish our spirits. I saw small bags of herbs sent from all over the land by those who know how much we needed to be healed. I read cards from young children who understood better than the government how much water means. Perhaps because they still remember the sacred water that held each of us for nine months.
So this is a time of joy and mourning for many of us. The resistance is not over by any means, nor did it even pause in celebration for the mandated Environmental Impact Statement. The government of the U.S. has broken or left unfulfilled so many treaties with the indigenous peoples of this land that until the last piece of pipe has been pulled from the ground, we believe not words, but actions. So I ask each of you now, to remember what you hold sacred. That bird that wakes you each morning, that river that you make pilgrimage to each summer, that tree that holds you when your heart is broken, that rain that makes the morning smell of life itself, and the rainbow which beams after the darkest hour, an overarching miracle. These parts of the whole that we keep close to our hearts, the love that we have is what brings us such sadness and anger in times like these. As we gathered to pray tonight in the Square, an Elder reminded us that if we forget this love, if we give in to the ease of anger, we have been transformed, that we are no stronger than those we are resisting. So tonight please try to see your anger, your sorrow as a tiny drop in the ocean of your love. Hold firm to that love with a strong heart as we move deeper into a time which tests us. We are being challenged to get more creative, to be more ingenious, more open and most of all, more loving. As the great love poet Pablo Neruda wrote, "Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera." (You can cut all of the flowers, but you cannot stop the Spring from coming.)