I’m not a writer and I do not pretend to be, however I am a photographer and every once in a while I make a good image. A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to visit the #nodapl
pretestors protectors overflow camp. I went with the intent to photograph the camp and the people, standing up in protest against the North Dakota Access pipeline, in a more photo-journalistic way. Going into it I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me for no other reason other than my social anxiety and my general awkwardness.
I met up with my friend Kristen McCormick in Bismarck, ND she picked me up from the airport Friday night, about an hour after my scheduled arrival time, on August 26th. Unfortunately due to being bumped from one flight to another and a weather delay, my luggage did not arrive with me, and I would not get it until right before we left to head home. Once we got everything taken care of at the airport and I got some clothes at the store, we headed out to the reservation south of town.
Due to road blocks, it took us an extra forty minutes via an alternate route to arrive at the camp. We made our way into the camp and to our camping site. After unloading and getting out sleeping bags ready we walked down to the drum circle and campfire. We met up with a woman named Verona, she is a member of the Menominee tribe from Wisconsin. While Kristen spoke with her about her experience thus far at the camp and her life in Wisconsin, I watched the campfire listening to the drum circle and prayer.
Click here for video of the campfire and drum circle.
The next morning, I started to wake a little before eight. Since we got to the camp after dark, I hadn’t seen our surroundings, well this is the view I woke to.
When we finally got up and moving around we went for a walk, up a hill on the northern side of the camp. The views from there was pretty amazing.
Later that morning, there was women’s group that met for a prayer down my the water. I went for a walk around before the arrival of the Crow nation.
Around lunch time, the camp was treated with the arrival of the Crow Nation. The Crow and the Sioux have had a very unstable history. But for the greater good they were able to come together and put the past behind them and stand together as brothers and sisters.
Both tribes greet each other, speeches are made, old bonds are strengthened and new ones are formed. For me, someone not of this community it resonated and impressed upon me how important it is to be there, with kindness and compassion, for one another. This entire experience reinforced in me that no matter what, we are all one people, regardless of where we come from, the color of our skin or the patterns in our clothing, or the sound of our voice, we are all one.
Later in the day after lunch, we walked to the protest site.
At the protest site there was a ceremony, with a drum circle and prayers. They did not want photos or videos taken.
The walk from the camp to the protest site is just over a mile, the full sun and heat makes it a trek. Along the way we made several stops, to allow people to catch up and to let people catch the breath and re-hydrate.
The mass of people were made up of young and old, large and small. With all the different tribes that had come to stand with the Sioux, to me it only demonstrates the power of unification. That we are all stronger together than apart, just like a bundle of sticks.
Like I said at the beginning, I am not a writer and I don’t pretend be. This is where I guess I’m supposed to have a summation, to tell what it all means and the affect it has had on me, along with the greater meaning over all. To me its simple, there is water that we must drink, air that we must breath and the soil where we grow our food, so we must protect it. When you have political and corporate interest that put I higher value on their power and money over that of the greater good. That is where you have conflict, that will be the point at which a decision will be made to change, and hopefully for the better.
For more information and to help go here: standingrock.org