Stand off at Standing Rock:
Why standing up is good for what ails you
The recent gathering in Santa Rosa for those who wanted to stand in solidarity with the Native Americans in North Dakota opposing an oil pipeline under their water source, a section of the Missouri River, was unlike any “political” rally and march I’d ever attended. And I’ve attended my share. There was a different spirit and tenor to it, in my view.
Firstly, it was led by local tribal people in accord with the Dakota Sioux tribes, as are hundreds of other indigenous tribes and non-natives, some of who went to the area in question. North Bay tribal spokespeople talked about the essence of the issue, what the core of the protest was, that being the right of the people living in the Dakota region, who happen to be Indians, to protect their water. That’s pretty basic. As the signs and banners say and common sense dictates, “Water is Life”.
Of course this confrontation at Standing Rock has other key elements – environmental pollution, global warming, corporate rights v human rights, etc. – but for the native peoples living on this land, their land, the protection of their water from poisoning was and is paramount.
Pipelines rupture and break. We all know this. We’ve seen the pictures.
The solidarity-gathering leaders also addressed what I’ll call the spirit of why they were gathering and marching and their words likened it more to prayer – for the people at Standing rock and even the ones opposed to them that they might see they were on the wrong side of things. I guess prayer is what you do when you’re facing the impossible. The native drummers and the sage smudging helped set a different kind of scene, and a good smelling one.
And then we solidarity protestors were asked to make our march through the downtown in silence and more in keeping with the (for lack of a better word) spiritual nature guiding our political activism.
This sure felt different to me where noise is usually encouraged and marchers are politically pep-rallied, usually to excess. This was different.
There was plenty of sign-carrying, but the only sounds from our ranks, a couple hundred maybe more, were the leading drummers and from outside, solidarity honks from lots of traffic. The silent march ended at Citibank, standing in for itself and all the other banks bankrolling the pipeline company. Then we surrounded and levitated it. Joking.
My friend and I hadn’t heard the news about the Army Corps of Engineers’ defeat at Standing Rock until after the march ended. Custer’s karma? Of course it ain’t over yet, but that fight’s for another day.
Frankly the last thing I expected at end of day was a victory, but it tastes nice anyway. I’m not politically active because I expect victory. I don’t. I’m politically active because I think it’s my responsibility as a citizen of our country and as a human. But I’ll take it, and know the fight never ends. We can discuss what that means some other time.
Activism is the antidote to the shock and depression of Trumpism. Life is full of defeats if you live long enough. That’s just the way it is. You get knocked down, you get up and you continue to stand up for what you believe in. And that gets rid of depression and makes you feel alive.
No charge for the advice.
Will Shonbrun, Boyes Hot Springs