Standing Rock Water Protectors
All three directors of Food & Movement Therapy have been to Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to join the Water Protectors (Rachel Hedrick, Steven Macri, Jeff Hush). We have gone there from September thru November of 2016. Jeff Hush was arrested at Standing Rock on Saturday, October 22. He is charged with 2 misdemeanors, trespassing and engaging in a riot. He has plead not guilty to both charges, and his Jury Trial is in January 2017. Hush was arrested while marching peacefully with over 300 native and non-nativepeople. The only people who were violent on this march were the riot police, who maced some of the people marching.
I just got a call from Watford City, North Dakota. It was my Public Defender. As 2017 approaches, with my first jury trial as an “activist” looming, I want to reflect on experiences felt at the Standing Rock Lakota Reservation. I also want to reach out to the people I love and let you all know how much joy and hope these Lakota experiences brought.
Swimming across the small, cold Cannonball River with Steve and stepping onto the mud of Standing Rock Reservation. Staring at red-hot grapefruit-sized rocks in the center of a sweat lodge, chanting loudly with elders “all my relations” in Lakota, as they tossed cedar bits onto the rocks—popping yellow flashes and red sizzlings like stars being born. Standing beside the glorious red sculpture of Sitting Bull atop a bare hill above the Sacred Stone Camp and surveying miles and miles of river bends and hollows and gentle sloping plains as far as the horizon, the land originally all for the Sioux in their 1851 Treaty. Marching toward the frozen face of the pipeline—sun rising behind us—with 300 people chanting “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life.” Praying for the sad screaming souls just maced by a brutal riot policeman ten feet from us. Holding Rachel’s arm seconds before being pushed down to my knees and arrested. Squatting on a dusty garage floor at the Morton County Jail with 100 other Water Protectors, laughing and chanting “Black Snake Killers” and talking Buddhism with Theo Buchanan, 19, from Colorado College. Walking around that garage with a small plastic water bottle and trickling water into the upturned mouths of the prisoners whose arms were lost behind them, bound by zip ties. Seeing them smile and nod. Hearing Sean say “just pee on it” when I told the jailers that my finger was turning gangrenous and demanded immediate treatment. Sitting in a cell (wearing Guantanamo orange) and listening at 2 am to Daniel Cox, Kiowa and Cheyenne, talking about the moment in a Sun Dance when the ritual hooks dug into your chest muscles finally tear through the flesh (he showed me the inch-long scars beside his nipples), releasing you backwards onto the earth, blinded by the sun, exhilarated after 4 days of ritual preparations and dancing, exhausted, complete, at peace with the hoop of life and all your relations—human, animal, and scurrying.
I have been to Standing Rock three times now, and every time I return I feel more convinced that my life has reached its peak: what a great gift to be allowed to stand there among these folks, at the moral center of America, with all these brave and powerful beings, these beings more spiritual than human, who have left behind their daily lives and journeyed to the center of history. JEFF HUSH