I woke up this Thanksgiving morning feeling some type of way. Before I even opened my eyes, I was already thinking about last year.
I was in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation with hundreds of others peacefully protesting the 3.78 billion dollar pipeline. I remember my then boyfriend and I were worried about our brothers and sisters who were still being affected out there with the freezing temperatures after we had left. We did not want to leave but had to because Eric became violently ill.
Thanksgiving did not feel right at all after that especially with what we had just experienced. The truth behind the history of this “holiday” is nothing pleasant and is definitely not what they teach children in school. After seeing how still, after all of these years, Native Americans are being treated like they aren’t important just knots my stomach.
Before heading to Standing Rock, we took part in some protests in downtown Phoenix to help spread the word and rally more who would help support the cause. We were standing up to the downright disrespect to Native Americans and to the inevitable threat to our water. This was a huge time for all of us to stand in solidarity to make a real difference and to tell big corporations that this was more important than their money. But, of course, money rules the world. Money turns people into mindless zombies, period.
I took this photo one afternoon while helping out at various tents and I just knew that it would be one of the most powerful ones I took. After taking this shot, I asked his permission to use it online even though you couldn’t really see his face and he said “yes.”
Each night we stayed felt colder than the one before. I remember waking up many times because either my toes were cold or I needed to put my hat back on. Eric was such an amazing help as he would get up and boil water for hot chocolate and oatmeal while I was still all bundled up, taking my sweet time. He was pretty freaking good to me!
I snapped this picture early in the morning because I felt the sun was greeting Eric with a lot of love and I wanted to remember this moment and what I was feeling.
On the main road entering camp, there were flags lining both sides symbolizing the different people coming together for one cause. It was absolutely beautiful and humbling to see and I had to capture this moment walking through it. I remember tears in my eyes as I lowered the camera after this shot. I saw strength, beauty, courage and hope in the faces of everyone around me. We were surrounded by people who weren’t just going to give up.
We took part in many of their ceremonial fires and even the water ceremony every morning. We did notice that whenever we were doing a beautiful ceremony, they would fly their helicopters low over us. It was like they did that on purpose to bother us but it didn’t. They did a lot of things to try to get us to retaliate but we never acted violently towards them. The media won’t tell you that, though.
In this moment, we were listening to a few people speak. Each person made such an impact on the rest of us, who were fully engaged and truly feeling their words. A few minutes after Eric took this picture, I started crying along with many others (yes, I cried quite a bit while I was here).
Remembering all of this leads me to today, November 23, 2017 – Thanksgiving. I roll out of bed and smile to myself, knowing that I helped people while I was there and that people helped me. I smile to myself because I am grateful for everything and everyone in my life. I may not believe in Thanksgiving, but I still choose to live this day with love like I do every other day. I will choose love over fear today. I am sending so much love to everyone who may need it today. I accept and love people for who they are no matter what their culture is or what they look like. I acknowledge everyone’s greatness and have hope in our future. No matter what happens, I know how much power we have over the “big guys” with the money. They may have money, but we have numbers.
Standing together is how we will make a positive change. Nothing happens when we all sit on our asses, or with our heads buried in the dirt. Many people just want to hide when things get scary and they forget how much influence they can have. Those of us who stood, who protested either here or anywhere, and who directed loving energy this way, I appreciate you more than you could know. Our fresh resources are more important than money. When will we realize that money cannot be eaten? That it has no real value? What will happen when the last drop of water is poisoned or when we are gasping for air that is no longer pure? What about our animals? What about us?
The earth will be here whether we are or not. Sometimes we seem to forget that fact. There is still time to make a change in the way we are living. What are we waiting for?
• xoxo •