Rev. Karen Brammer, Standing Rock, part 7
Of the 9 days I have been here in North Dakota so far, I spent maybe 5 of them across the hall from Rev Karen Van Fossan doing whatever might help her and the congregation do their part. This is a congregation of around 50 members that has risen to the challenge of providing support to the Standing Rock Water Protectors since spring of 2015.
- They have been continuously present and reliable as allies to the camp leaders, so much so that they were invited to host the December 4th Interfaith Prayer Service - a deep honor given by Chief Arvol Looking Horse.
- They have collectively provided a yurt at the camp which has a volunteer house manager, Terry who is taking time off her job to create safe and healing space.
- They have hosted many, many visitors coming through to witness and work at Standing Rock.
- They have hosted public education, multiple opportunities for conversation, and are a major drop off point for a steady stream of donations.
- They respond to dozens of media requests for information and interviews.
- They continue to be in conversation with each other and their neighbors, honestly grappling with the complexities of taking a very public, very unpopular stand.
One of the things I have heard Rev Karen Van Fossan say is that Oceti Sakowin Camp, over and over becomes something way beyond the capacity of her imagination. What was a small, prayerful and determined gathering of tents and leaders has become an encampment of well over 7000 people, many of whom will remain through the winter.
Over 300 brilliant and wildly flapping flags represent the presence of native nations from all over the world. I have difficulty finding the words to describe anything close to the colorful layout of tipis, yurts, longhouses, tents, and other structures where people go to pray with others, where they get trained to fulfill their obligation to the camp, where they go to find healing, to eat, to get water and supplies, to take care of their needs. Around-the-clock security is done by trained volunteers, many of them on horseback or walking through the deep hours of the night. And over and over the paired power of corporate fuel and government has thrown down difficult and sometimes very dangerous crises.
I bow in honor and deep appreciation of the resilience and tenacity of the many native leaders who continue to guide this movement of Water Protectors when many of us might well have given up thinking there was no use resisting. They are about Prayer and Water. Their process is about finding a way out of Big Business and Big Government finality.
This morning we learned that $1000 fines would be levied on anyone bringing supplies to the camp. Of course that resulted in waves of protest and planning and reaffirming our purpose. Then later today we heard that the fines will not be given. Please read this powerful statement by John Bigelow http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/sovereign-creed on the Oceti Sakowin Camp web site.
One of the many results of this Water Protector movement for me will be a cellular memory of praying, trusting, and living the determination to make a way out of no way, together.
One way you can continue to help is to encourage others who have not done so, to give.
May I suggest TWO places for donations?
Direct donations to Oceti Sakowin Camp
Donations for the UU - sponsored interfaith yurt that hosts elders and folks who arrive without a place to stay, AND for 10 corn pellet stoves to heat structures on the site.
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