Day of Mourning with the Water Protectors
Last Thursday was the day that I have always celebrated as Thanksgiving until this year. This year I recognized it as a National Day of Mourning for the violence that European settler colonizers have committed against Indigenous Americans for the last 5 centures. I spent this past Thursday at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock with 10 other folks that made up a PPF delegation. The day started off as they had for the several days since we had been there. We woke up to a light snow and prepared to help around the Oceti Sakowin camp building shelves, sorting donations, washing dishes, and making banners. Around ten in the morning, one of the elders invited everyone to turn and see the police, National Guard, and fire fighters who were gathering on a hill overlooking the camp--a hill that is a sacred burial ground.
There was a fear that the police were going to raid the camp, so all of the children and their mothers, the elderly, and any others who couldn't participate in a direct action were given instructions to evacuate across the river into completely undisputed reservation. The land on which the Oceti Sakowin camp sits is clearly reservation land according to the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. That treaty is still in effect, but is being ignored and permission given by Congress to the Army Corps of Engineers to use the land without the permission of the tribe. This is just one example in a legacy of land theft and occupation in the United States against Native Americans. So there is precedent and a legacy of police raiding the land and homes of Native people, and there was fear it was about to happen again on Thursday.