Dec 2, 2016

Good morning, relatives!

When I first pulled into camp around midday the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the scene was overwhelming. And that was before the population of camp doubled to around 10,000 by the weekend! You have seen it from photos~ the view is of a sea of tipis, yurts, tiny houses, Army tents, camping tents, buses, cars, truck, vans, uhaul trailers... smoke rising up from the Sacred Fire and streaming out of stovepipes in tipis...
Over the background din and noise of the wind, comes the sound of prayer at the Sacred Fire. Songs, chants, drumming permeate the grounds.
The ceremony is the camp. Prayer camp.
When the songs stop, the MC picks up the mic and makes announcements, "Relatives!" he calls to get the attention of all within ear range.

I find a place to offload the 4 bins of kitchen supplies I am delivering to Kandi at the Indigenous Environmental Network for Maria Morrissey who is setting up a cook shack for camp. It is easy to find help to lift the bins, not so easy to find a person who knows where Kandi is or anything about the project.  I will be sleeping in the camper of my pickup truck until I see what the weather conditions are and if my tent will withstand the winds that come whipping down the plains. I am relieved when I get the space in back to carve out a place to sleep out of the wind.

I don't have alot of photos. The camp restricts taking photos for reasons that I totally agree with.
It is intrusive to have people taking photos of prayer ceremony. This a community of people living here. It would be disrespectful to walk into a person's home and start taking pictures, wouldn't it?
There are people in camp who don't need their photos spread around. If you are being a tourist and snapping photos, you are not participating in the NOW. To take photos with a camera other than a smartphone, you need a media pass.
I know there will be photos out there to tell the story that will be much better than any I can take. So I will share other people's work here. Before I go off in judgement of others' behaviors, I will admit that the biggest cause of tension to me was people taking photos that showed no awareness or respect for the higher purpose of being here. I realize this is my baggage...;-)
I many people were taking selfies from the hill with the camp in background?
Granted the tourist mind is a trigger for me from living in Mexico for many years and even being a Tour Guide at Casa del Jaguar or Casa Na Bolom in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico.
I am letting that go now....for in my heart, I know that everyone is drawn to Oceti Sakowin Camp for a purpose...everyone I meet is my teacher....and I do have lessons to learn!

Besides the obvious lesson that Oceti Sakowin Camp is a global village of people united for one cause, helping each other and loving each other with compassion, humility, no other place in time or history.... filled with dedicated, hard working, happy, healthy, generous and wise souls from all walks of life and all ages....

One huge takeaway was recognition of the great respect the people here have for women.
I no longer view the request to wear a skirt in the colonial context of a symbol of "subjugation", but as a reminder of the sacredness of the female attributes to be caring, nurturers of life.
As a young woman eager to throw off forms of domination in an era of bra-burning, I had scorned the vestiges of control and equated wearing make up and "dresses" in the context of suppression of my choice!
Here I am, 63 and finally able to embrace that in indigenous focused cultures, the long dress represents a very reverent reminder of our sacred nature and symbolized the tipi. Long road to that lesson. In fact, it was so apparent that the success of this movement is based on the wisdom of Elder Women and young women who are sharing their gifts in these times as protectors and leaders.
I don't mean to diminish the roles of the men as Scouts, Protectors, Warriors. It is just an awesome awakening to see women in these leadership roles, as well. I was brought to tears so often as my heart was touched during my time spent among people who welcomed me "home".

Because so many people feel this groundswell of support for Oceti Sakowin, it is important to know that you can support in many ways from your home.
While I was there, Yes Magazine staff arrived and put together this piece that I would like to share.

Nov 29

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