‘We opened eyes’: at Standing Rock, my fellow Native Americans made history.
As an Indigenous American, there was never any question of whether I should travel to Standing Rock or not. I needed to witness firsthand what was happening there, and wanted to offer solidarity to those fighting for the right of tribes to exercise agency over their own futures.
Only one problem remained: I had to find a way to go.
I am not a man of means. I weighed obligations, such as bills and work, and considered travelling expenses. I glanced at my vehicle, already knowing it was hardly suited for the 1,100-mile drive from my home in north-east Oregon, and resigned myself to staying home. I just couldn’t afford the trip.
But as police use of force escalated and news came out of private oil company security contractors using dogs against protesters, more and more people began to reach out to me, expressing a desire to help.
In early November, I was contacted by my good friend Jamie Stone, who said he wanted to go and offered his truck and trailer to haul supplies. Jamie also happens to be a former oil worker on the North Slope of Alaska. His uncle is an oil executive, and his brother works for oil companies around the globe, but he also has family members who are farmers in the midwest and have had easements forced across their own land for oil pipelines.
“This issue brings a lot of people together for a lot of reasons,” Jamie told me, “whether it’s eminent domain, protecting water rights, or just people sick of ‘profit over people’. These corporate terrorists need to get the point that people are changing, and we aren’t going to be their sheep for much longer.”