Wreath in place to celebrate Christmas as the U.S. flag flies to signify distress at the Pueblo camp. Photo courtesy of Lee Sprague
Published Christmas – December 25, 2016
CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – What began as a spirit camp of prayer in April 2016 with some 50 people, who opposed the Dakota Access pipeline coming onto ancestral Sioux territory, has turned into the largest gathering of American Indians in over a century. It is difficult to have an official count, but literally thousands of American Indians have come to Standing Rock during the past several months in the effort to show solidarity for the water protectors.
The water protectors’ rallying cry has been ‘mni wiconi,’ which means water is life.
During the intervening months, the water protectors have faced vicious German shepherds and pit bull dogs, high-pressure hoses from water cannons, grenades, rubber bullets and arrests. Even with the adverse circumstances, the fight to protect water and tribal sovereignty has kept those at Standing Rock strong. After all, American Indians are warriors.
Tribal leaders and spiritual leaders have consistently reminded the participants at Standing Rock that the fight to oppose the pipeline has to be won through prayer and peace.
Among the strongest tenets of the Christmas story for two millennia has been “Peace on Earth.” The Ojibwe believe “to love is to know peace. You must love yourself in order to love another.”
On this Christmas, some 1,000 water protectors are on site at the encampments to pray and are striving for a peaceful end to the standoff at Standing Rock. Their existence is not necessarily comfortable. They are facing the harshness of a northern Plains winter that brings sub-zero temperatures and fierce winds. The water protectors’ Christmas is not going to be a cozy and comfortable as most of ours across Indian Country. Their Christmas meal may not be nearly as substantial as many of ours.
So in the midst of celebrating Christmas with your family and friends, please say a prayer for those are fighting the good fight of faith at Standing Rock to preserve Mother Earth for the next seven generations, as we have been taught to do.
Peace on Earth!
Merry Christmas from Native News Online.