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Archives for October 2016
HOW I SPENT MY VACATIONOctober 15, 2016 4:10 PM
Dear Friends and Constituents:
I’m writing to let you know how I spent my mini-vacation last weekend and the early part of this past week – the first vacation my husband Adam and I have taken in 14 months. You will understand why I’m telling this personal tale on my official Alder blog as the narrative unfolds.
The first leg of our journey took us to Chaska, MN, where we celebrated my Uncle Jim’s 90th Birthday party. He is the eldest of 5 brothers, and they were all able to make the party. It is truly a blessing that they are all still with us and were able to make the journey. We enjoyed visiting with cousins and other extended family members, catching up on family news and enjoying many laughs. When Uncle Jim blew out his birthday candles he said, “In 10 years we’ll REALLY have a party – Pete will be 89 1/2!”
Sunday morning Adam, our dog Makwa and I began the second leg of our journey to North Dakota, where we planned to bird watch along the Missouri River, and deliver Madison’s resolution “Expressing Solidarity with Indigenous Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline” to the Standing Rock Tribal Chairman, David Archambault II. This resolution was passed unanimousy by the Common Council and signed by the Mayor on September 20, 2016. It describes the the value of sacred sites, government-to-government relations with Tribes, and the vital importance of protecting the water, and calls for more public education and for the US Army Corps of Engineers to halt all permitting processes until robust, free and informed consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been conducted.
Because our city is located on the traditional homelands of the Ho Chunk people and the region is defined by water – Dejope or 4 lakes – with the highest concentration of Late Woodland effigy mounds on the continent, we have a special appreciation for these issues. For the past several decades City and County elected officials have worked to build formal relationships with the Ho Chunk Nation government in a good way. We have a long way to go yet, but we are doing our best to educate the public and build trust with the Ho Chunk Nation.
We arrived in Standing Rock territory around 7:30 pm on Sunday. Since we could not immediately locate the people to whom we were to deliver the carload full of donations (tools, kitchen utensils, food, as well as tobacco, cloth and hemp cord for prayer ties), we decided to head down the highway to the Prairie Knights Casino to take in the Packers game.
Standing Rock is on the border of Vikings and Broncos territory, so we were a little nervous about how we would be received as Packers fans. I’m happy to report that we were greeted warmly, albeit with a healthy dose of good-natured ribbing, and enjoyed the Packers’ win over the Giants.
We arrived back at camp a little after midnight and parked the car next to the Legal tent, where our friend, Madison attorney Patricia (PK) Hammel was camped out as part of the legal team. Amazingly, folding down the back seats of a Prius and rolling out a futon makes a very comfortable sleeping arrangement. We set up our little camper – Makwa slept on the front seat – and went to sleep shortly before 1am.
I had set the alarm on my phone for 5:45 am in order to attend a sunrise prayer ceremony organized by Lakota Canupa (sacred pipe) carriers. The alarm never sounded due to the cold and the constant searching for a non-existent signal. (Note to self: switch phone into airplane mode when there is no signal.) Luckily, PK was up and awoke me with her flashlight.
On that morning of October 10, Indigenous Peoples Day, temperatures were in the 20s, so I put on as many layers as I had carried. Long underwear weather to be sure. A pickup truck drove around camp with someone with a megaphone – sounding very much like a Pow Wow announcer cracking corny jokes – called campers to rise and shine and head toward the river.
PK and I joined over 100 other people from all over the world on the northern shore of the Cannonball River. Before the ceremony, which included smudging and songs for the pipes, the directions, the water and unity of the people, several young people circulated throughout the gathering with offerings of “cowboy coffee” and sliced oranges and apples.
When the ceremony concluded, it was announced that there would be an Eagle and Condor ceremony based on the Incan prophecy somewhere along the route of the pipeline. We were to meet at the south gate of the camp and convoy to the undisclosed site.
PK went as part of the legal team and I grabbed my camera bag and tagged along, leaving Makwa and Adam – who had done all of the 800+ miles of driving – to enjoy their much needed sleep.
The sun had just crested the eastern horizon revealing a million shades of brown and green, casting long shadows of mesas, hills, barns, fences, bison, cattle and horses on the earth. I responded to the spectacular beauty of the place by pulling out my video camera, capturing images of the countryside as we followed the line of 60 or so vehicles to the pipeline site. PK’s car was the second to last vehicle in the convoy.
As we pulled onto Highway 6, we began to hear the sound of a helicopter. PK had mentioned that Energy Transfer Partners, the second largest “Master Limited Partner” in the country that shares ownership of the Dakota Access Pipeline project with Enbridge Energy Partners and whose sub-shareholders include Donald Trump and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, had scrubbed the identifying registration numbers from the helicopter on previous occasions. I then focused my camera on the helicopter to see if we could identify it.
When we got to the site, PK put on a neon green hat with black embroidered lettering: “National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer.” Several years ago I received legal observer training from the ACLU and understood the role and responsibility of the position. The NLG Manualdefines it this way:
The primary role of the Legal Observer is to be the eyes and ears of the legal team–to observe and record incidents and the activities of law enforcement in relation to the demonstrators. This includes documenting, for example, any arrest, use of force, intimidating display of force, denial of access to public spaces like parks and sidewalks, and any other behavior on the part of law enforcement that appears to restrict demonstrators’ ability to express their political views. This documentation needs to be done in a thorough and professional manner, so that lawyers representing arrestees or bringing an action against the police generally will be able to objectively evaluate the constitutionality of government conduct. Information gathered by Legal Observers has contributed to an extremely successful track record in defending and advancing the rights of demonstrators, including in criminal trials and several major lawsuits against Federal and local governments for their unconstitutional actions.
I then switched my hat out for a lime green legal observer hat and internally prepared myself for the work, which involves simply observing and not participating in any activities or speaking with anyone in the crowd or with police unless absolutely necessary. Most of all, my job was to not get arrested and to maintain control of my camera.
I stayed on the outskirts of the crowd as it assembled alongside of a tipi frame that had been woven around with long strings of prayer ties. A group of indigenous youth from Argentina, representing the Condor from the South, performed several dances. They were followed by a man and a woman from the Arctic Circle, representing the Eagle from the North, drumming and keening a deeply moving, mournful song about their journey to that place.
I did not record the ceremony. My camera was trained on the rural road to the south where more than a dozen police vehicles were traveling east at high speeds toward Highway 6. As they approached I moved father away from the tipi and closer to the road so as not to interfere with the movements of the crowd or of the police.
I heard the MC of the ceremony let people know that the police were arriving, and that if they were not prepared to be arrested they should return to the road and the public right of way. He mentioned that some people had planned to sit and pray inside the tipi frame and were willing to face trespassing charges. He reiterated that this was a peaceful ceremony and that people should disperse peacefully. He also mentioned that the group had a designated police liaison who would be communicating with the commanding officer to let them know that people were dispersing. I found out later that the police liaison was among the first people to be arrested that day.
I continued to remain silent on the sidelines, focusing my camera on the lines of police walking down to the site in formation. There were multiple groups of 12-15 officers (totaling more than 60 officers) from many different jurisdictions throughout North Dakota and Wisconsin. I personally saw officers from Marathon County and the Wisconsin State Patrol. Other reports and photos from that morning show Rock and Dane County deputies on site as well.
A group of a dozen or so officers placed themselves shoulder to shoulder across the path that had been excavated for the pipeline just in front of the tipi where 16 people had entered, including a Lakota Grandmother Canupa carrier who began conducting pipe ceremony. I backed up to get out of their way, expecting that they would begin arresting the tipi people.
All of a sudden, the commanding officer in the line shouted, “If we touch you you’re under arrest!” I backed up as much as I could, but I was hemmed in by the pipeline pipes that were sitting on the ground. He then lunged at me, went straight for my arm holding the camera and yanked my hands behind my back. I kept a hold of my camera, and behind my back tried to close the viewfinder to protect the camera from damage. That’s when he yelled, “now I’m arresting you for destruction of evidence and criminal trespass” and grabbed the camera away from me.
When another Deputy grabbed me and began to push me across the excavated path, I said in a very calm voice, “I will comply peacefully with your verbal commands. You don’t have to push me.” Later I saw the camera lying on the ground 20 feet away from where I was initially accosted by the officer.
In addition to the 16 people sitting in the tipi, 9 other people (including me), were handcuffed and lined up against a pipe while the arresting officers filled out their affidavits. We were all transported to the jail in Mandan, ND. While we were in the garage of the jail awaiting processing, actress Shailene Woodley was escorted in by two officers. Apparently she was arrested as she tried to get into her vehicle to leave the scene.
I spent the night in jail and was bonded out the next day.
As far as I know, of the people arrested on Monday I am the person with the most charges: the two that everyone else received (criminal trespass, inciting a riot), and also resisting arrest and destruction of evidence. My camera was seized as evidence and may have been damaged or destroyed given that the last time I saw it it was lying on the ground far away from the place where it was last in my posession.
My court date is on January 12. I will be fighting the charges.
The first thing I did after my release from jail, after eating a slice of pizza and thanking the people who were waiting outside the jail for support, was to drive down to the administrative offices of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in Fort Yates to speak with somebody about how to deliver the City of Madison’s resolution. The administrative assistant in the Chairman’s office told me that there would be a Tribal Council meeting the next morning in the village of Cannon Ball, and suggested I show up there and speak with the Chairman.
Adam and I attended the six hour long special meeting, which was called to discuss whether or not to move the camp south of the Cannonball River onto reservation land for the winter. We listened to many people in the community share their concerns – including the ongoing struggle for compensation by the US Army Corps of Engineers for bottom land lost along the Missouri River when the Corps built a dam and created Lake Oahe, and the housing crisis faced by many tribal members. An employee of the school district talked about how their student athletes are harassed when they go outside of the reservation for athletic competitions, requiring the escort of tribal police.
After the meeting I was finally able to accomplish my mission: to deliver the framed parchment signed by Mayor Soglin to Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II.
During my brief time visiting Standing Rock territory I witnessed and felt the depths of the human rights crisis facing their community. The day that we left, a Standing Rock woman was arrested at a traffic stop, taken to jail and strip searched in front of four male Deputies.
Divisive forces are pushing hard to break the resolve of the Standing Rock people and other water protectors from across the world. I remain more commited than ever in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s sovereignty and rights to clean water and self-determination.
All things are connected – are they not?
Here we are digging into a North Dakota winter to fight the black snake. The black snake – the Dakota Access Pipeline, a.k.a. Big Oil, a.k.a Big Money. Anyway, cold weather inevitably leads to cold and flu season. North Dakota seems a bit more frigid and bone-chilling than cold season in San Diego, my most recent residence – none the less, winter drives all of us to the store for big bottles of bright, traffic-signal colored liquids. They are usually wrapped in plastic by two’s, daytime/nighttime. Ingredients include:
- Acetaminophen: Pain relief and fever reduction
- Dextromethorphan: Cough suppressant
- Doxylamine succinate: Relief of allergic rhinitis symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing.
- Guaifenesin: Expectorant
- Phenylephrine: Nasal decongestant
- Oxymetazoline: Nasal decongestant
Big words, a.k.a Big Pharma, a.k.a Big Money. Instant relief, but no future for us 99%…
Happy to report our sister, Anne Whitehat, a beloved warrior of the Oceti Sakowin Camp and member of the Sicangu Lakota, has taught us a new way to go forward.
Following is the recipe for your family, camp, or tribe to survive and thrive this and all future cold seasons. In case you find yourself caught up in a winter movement similar to ours, the equipment and ingredient kit items are also listed.
Oceti Sakowin Cough Syrup
Small-batch, 100% Herbal
36-48 12oz Jars
- Bring to a boil, then simmer 30-45 minutes
- ¾ full water in a big pot
- 4 Tbls. Slippery Elm Bark (powder form, more concentrated)
- 1 Whole Garlic, crushed (remove only outermost shell)
- Handful Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 Apples, cut up
- Take off heat to add/stir in:
- 4 handfuls:
- 4 handfuls:
- Strain into second large pot (cheesecloth ideal), rinse boiling pot; strain once more into boiling pot
- Add (2) 5 lbs jugs of honey
- Stir, bottle! Warm shooter if you are anything less than 100%
Kit for winter-long, group quantity production:
(best if just for medicine)
- 2 Large pots
- Strainer (cheesecloth best)
- Wooden Spoon
- Ball Jars
Bulk Ingredients (from Frontier)
- 1 lb of each herb: Slippery Elm Bark, Rosemary, Echinacea
- 10 lbs honey
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Garlic string
Can be done over the campfire.
Bring to boil and simmer.
Add herbs, stir then strain; Breath it in, sooooo good!
Second strain, back into boiling pot.
Bring on the honey!
Rinse honey jars with warm syrup to get every drop! It’s expensive, you know!
Of course, we existed long before modern showers were available in most housing – but here I am, Birthday 30 – experiencing something therapeutic about my birthday real shower! We are living in North Dakota, in October; we sit in meetings for hours listening to each other and taking ownership of our fate; we wake to frost; we feel Absolutely violated by drones, intimidating road blocks, and of course illegal construction [which has continued even beyond executive order to “halt” construction] and cavity searches.
All the more profound to say quite decidedly, I am exactly where I want to be.
My birthday wish for you ALL –
First: Please write a letter to Mr. Obama – flood his office requesting him to deny permits for the final section of the pipeline and to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you don’t feel you know enough please spend 10 minutes researching any of the following sources that are reporting the truth:
Second: If you’ve been waiting to come or to support… there will be some KEY moments to step up in the next 30 days. I will call for your action and simply ask that you to act.
If yesterday was a horrible day, emotionally, for the community – today was Amazing.
Such defeat yesterday. The urgency of Winter is coming; it’s weighing heavily on all. Additionally, the forces that we’re up against is putting all efforts into making us rip apart from the inside.
In addressing challenges, really big challenges, such as those posed by Winter Coming, we’ve been stalled in converting our thoughts as a community into unified, cohesive action. Everyone wants to be heard and to contribute with their own skills – but deciding how to share resources and progress Together is the Challenge [we all face right now in the world]. This, I’ve realized today, is one thread of what it is all about.
Sensing the need for a morale boost, as great leaders do, Dennis Banks spoke to us today in the modest setting of a green army tent, bursting at the rolled up walls while the weather gave us a break and the sun smiled upon us. He spoke profoundly at times and with levity at others, as comedic a storyteller as I’ve read Lincoln was (effective as ever for bringing together many and building bridges where no one could see how) to remind us Why we are here: For a reason; An Important Reason; and No, we will not back down, we will not retreat, we will not welcome the dogs that attack our women and children; we will go forward because that is what we do. All of us who have come, are here because this is about protecting our precious water and air and land. It’s about resisting ways that have shown to be the wrong ways – ones that benefit few, at the sacrifice of many. It’s about remembering what has always been taken. Because of what is happening here, Standing Rock will stay in the hearts of each of us who have heard the call to come, though none of us have been paid to do so. We will stay and finish our work here and then meet as protectors again if we are given the days to do so. For now we will go forward one day at a time. We all have great, powerful ideas and we will each be heard. We will do so without labels. We will think and act cohesively with peace and prayer and continue to get stronger in non-violence each day.
This is what we are doing here! (Re)learning ourselves how to build the type of community in which we see each person and hear each voice; and respect ourselves And Mother Earth who can’t speak for herself against the one-sidedness of greed but who Gives Us Life!
I see Dennis Banks so coolly addressing tension and answering HUGE Why’s with stories that make us laugh as one.
I see our cooks give us everything – most of their waking hours – trying to perfect their gift to us the in most difficult of conditions.
I see our wellness guide lead with more patience than I’ve seen from any human, personally.
I hear and sit with our morning rooster, JD a local tribesman, who manages to call us awake despite the frost on our blankets – “The sun is greeting you, wake up – we need your prayers!” and we do.
I see our young men getting firewood for us Every Day.
I see our protectors securing us from the devious outsiders who are coming into camp to steal the truth of what’s happening here – and who are literally stealing our wood stoves and generators.
I see our legal aids who are teaching us our rights.
I see our medics and herbal clinicians who save us without cost.
I see people taking in each solo warrior arriving, winter ready or not, to sleep and eat.
I see our camp director, a Standing Rock tribesman, whose heart is as big as the Money against us and who tells us what Cannonball thinks is going on here, what the tribes concerns are and what Chairman Archambault is doing for/with us.
I see you, indigenous folks up from New Orleans who get us all eating Buffalo Gumbo, dancing and learning to cook our own herbal cough syrup late into the night – late into this night in which we watched the Aurora Borealis from the opening of the 40-foot-teepee they’ve opened to the thousands of us who have dug in for the winter.
Early in the day, we lamented over the defeats of yesterday – then we celebrated, because we know Why we are here, that we are here together, and that we are going to win.
I no longer need to believe it can only be what They have always told us is the way it is.
Given this new and unexpected beginning (at least unexpected to me, not so for the indigenous who are seeing prophecies fulfilled right now in our lifetimes !), I’m seeing it unfold differently every day.
Hard to know how to capture everything.
I’m good. Yes, very cold. Food, good. Company, great. Very tough to keep devices charged and to even have service in places of “service”. So here you are, a start:
First and foremost, much happened upon first arrival – the injunction to stop construction failed. How disappointing. Shortly after, 28 people were arrested on the front line – I was sleeping after our long drive. They were subject at the jailhouse to a full cavity search; this is an illegal protocol for which local authorities will be sued.
On another note –
My good friend, Chief Kindness, has been nothing but kind to me. We rode the night together – me staying on the road and him sharing the many lessons of a lifetime in service to his Oneida tribe, the American Indian Movement, and the many causes needing support in this world. Upon arrival we set our tents together, no fear now of the snow to come. Matter of fact… the process took long enough that we had to break for a walk around the camp and some food. This will be chiefs fourth visit – he watched from the front line as they brought dogs upon a peaceful group including women and children, a memorable hate in their eyes. Three women and a child, attacked. It is just hard to believe. Check out this gem and watch for the next: http://www.sundance.org/blogs/native-filmmakers-fighting-the-dakota-pipeline-at-standing-rock.
We ate after waiting for the elders to be delivered their plates and the spirits to receive theirs; the Most amazing food I never expected, having walked through the truest thing to a refugee camp I’ve ever been in. Moose taco meat and greens.
So tired, I went to sleep before the sun set and then woke up to my alarm – weirdest felling of nostalgia ever. Made myself layer up then complete my morning jumpstart: 50 pushups, 50 situps, some sun salutations, 10 jump squats. Water, first bottle freezing, second not so bad after filling up with hot water from main fire. Food, coffee. Felt great.
Went on to meet JD, a Standing Rock tribesman with the voice of Johnny Cash. Says we’ll win. “How?”, I asked. “Prayer, a lot of prayer.” So I ran onward to try to catch up to the ladies headed toward the river singing the water prayer. They walk and sing the prayer across the states in gratitude of our sacred water. Instead I ran into a local religious leader and Cannonball local. First opinion of the day in favor of moving this camp to tribal land. How will we survive the winter otherwise? The injunction has failed. The Governor of North Dakota has personal investment in this pipeline. The port-o-potty servicing company is receiving threats for providing for us. The water that is currently being sent will freeze as the camp is set now. All electoral candidates say they would negotiate with the tribe on this matter; the current government structure refuses to negotiate with the tribe. Such dismal news seemed to have brought on a dismal drop in temperature and I thought for the first time, one day in, I might not make it.
RAN back to the car, layered up even more, friends were awake now – felt right again!
Next posts to include the truth of what is going on in camp and on the front line, community building 101. My trip to the front line. And my very own October 14th birthday request of you all!
There’s something special happening here in Standing Rock, the whole world is watching, wondering what we we’ll do next.
My friends, family, mentors,
My friends and family I have yet to meet – In spending the last two weeks preparing for the journey to Standing Rock, I’ve thought a lot about this. What all of this means… is it about history? Racism? Is it about our continued neglect of really acknowledging, repenting and repairing our relationship with those who were the natives to this land? Is it about big oil? Corporate greed? Is it about a select few entities who have power over many? The power of what resources can be bought/sacrificed for production? And for how much? Is it about politics? Lobbies? Is it about what an elected official is? How they got there? How long they have been there? Is it about this election? Hillary vs Trump? Is this the last time to make a stand for our freedom?
The answer is YES. Yes to all of the above. There are more than 5,000 people, who remain unknown to many and whose cause, as yet, to be publicized; who, right at this moment are seeing very clearly the resounding YES – It is about All of this very complex, convoluted, money-clouded, absolutely scary-in-it’s-Hugeness stuff. Those 5,000 who are standing right now in North Dakota have decided that the time is Now. What is the solution though? To be 5,000 standing against Billions (of dollars) – feels small, daunting, scary. But for some reason, not hopeless…why?
Because we have All had enough. So much of our world is a façade now, isn’t it?
Do you shop at Whole Foods? Do you pay more to shop there to have safer, organic, non-gmo food?
Have you ever researched a company called Monsanto? They are the captain of the world in big agriculture genetic modification, research and distribution. They are the majority owner of Whole Foods. How then are safety tags like “organic” defined and regulated? Who defines them? And who regulates them?
How big is one person versus Whole Foods, or one family farm versus Monsanto?
The tribes are standing unified for the first time in history, peacefully, righteously. The momentum cannot be dropped, there is a bigger solution to build than simply – yes the pipeline must be moved over, or no the pipeline can continue.
What does your research tell you of our world today? What do you think it’s all about? What do you think is the solution that sits at the root of all the evils?
We’re rolling out today, all feedback is needed! You hold a piece of the puzzle, your perspective is relevant.