By Tracy Rector
From her journal on her experiences at Standing Rock

On Sunday, December 5, we had a huge surprise and Obama denied the easement permit for drilling to Energy Transfer Partners. But what’s interesting is the CEO announced last night that they will continue drilling. So it’s a huge win for the short term but the fight is still very active and in two months with the new administration everything will change.

Everyone was in good spirits last night for the most part. Many expressed their concerns with the new administration coming in. Cautious optimism.

Today the vets had a ceremony with the Tribe called the Wiping of Tears Ceremony. It was very moving.


Others in camp took part in a procession to go over the bridge towards the blockade but the blizzard really stopped everyone in their tracks. The blizzard took everyone by surprise and really created a lot of uncertainty and chaos in the camp. Many people tried to leave and the roads were so incredibly icy that a number of cars slid off into the side ditches. The Chairman asked people to go home because the weather conditions are getting to dangerous.

There’s been a lot of conversation about DAPL moving forward with their plans for drilling despite the denial. As I understand the penalty fees are minimal.

Quotes from those at the camp:

“The feeling in camp is just awesome. What an experience! I was getting calls from so many people in Minneapolis real excited!” – Bob Thunder, US Marine Veteran

“I feel cautiously optimistic and happy. I know how these things work. It’s not over. I know it’s important to celebrate this small victory. But with DAPL specifically I’m guarded and still in shock. Hopefully this is one of many triumphs to come and I hope that it’s possible that this has set a précédant. We need to stay though because Trump is coming. So maybe we also need to remember to stay alert and help one another.” – Brook Spotted Eagle

“I feel it’s a second time that I felt this way in a few years the first time was with Keystone XL alone in my kitchen but today it was with 10,000 people actually millions of people worldwide because of social media. Now that’s progress!” – Faith Spotted Eagle

It’s a win and I feel very emotional but we need to remember that we have to continue our efforts. – Wesley Clark Jr.

Despite the Army Corp denying a permit for DAPL to go under the Missouri River, Energy transfer announced they will proceed regardless. We will continue to fight. This is from earlier today when we marched up highway 1806. #NoDAPL

The following piece was written by Tracy Rector the day before December 5 and the above happened.

Right now, corporations threaten the lifeblood of Mother Earth. There are ten thousand water protectors mobilized against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) in Cannonball, ND, on the traditional territories of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, guaranteed to the Tribe in the 1851 and 1868 treaties with the US government. The activists at Standing Rock are not only concerned with protecting their sovereign rights, history, and land; they’re fighting for the health of the land and water for 18 million US citizens along the Missouri River.

Frankly, they’re gifting Americans with an opportunity to critically analyze the state of our so-called democracy. The arrests of journalists, the tactics of humiliation (strip searching), active surveillance of social media and personal communication, the bogus lies leaked to mainstream media, the destruction of documentarian’s equipment, the use of military grade weapons on unarmed people and the imposing of felony charges on protestors are all signs to take seriously. For these and many other reasons the water protectors are asking for all people to stand in solidarity. Their resistance is a wake-up call. We are living in a time of great change and tribal prophecies have foreshadowed what’s to come.

My work as an artist and activist responds to the pervasive colonizer mentalities of racism, entitlement, misogyny, and domination plaguing this country. Native history is everyone’s history, here on the territories now called the United States of America. We Native people are still here on the land of our ancestors despite the calculated genocide of our relatives. Why is this important? Well we know how to survive despite the most heinous circumstances and our historical oppression should not be ignored. We know the struggle, the signs and what happens when those in power perceive us as Native people “in the way”.

Our life experiences are a strength that we can draw upon in times of need. Our people are superheroes poised to shake our collective sleepy psyches awake. It’s not just brown and black bodies these corporate psychopaths are sacrificing for blood money—it’s everyone. In fact I believe that we are in a “class war” with the 1% and racism is another tool of the oppressors to pit us against one another.

Indigenous people all around the world have been facing environmental genocide for centuries. Colonial corporate greed permeates the air we breathe. But Energy Transfer Partners’ BLACK SNAKE (DAPL) should concern us all. Their investors and shareholders are raping the lands and poisoning the waters that nurture everyone’s lives here on Mother Earth. Chemicals released into the environment as the result of domestic oil and natural gas production can damage our reproductive health. Our future generations are facing genocide before they are even born.

Mainstream media often ignores the pattern of numerous pipelines that have leaked, spilled and broken as our capacity for domestic oil production continues to grow. The most recent spill happened just last week in Cushing, Oklahoma, when a section of one of the biggest pipelines in the country burst. On October 20, 55,000 gallons of gasoline spilled into a tributary of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, and just a month before that, another pipeline ruptured and dumped 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Alabama. On October 13, the Heiltsuk First Nation characterized the oil spill just north of Vancouver Island as an “environmental disaster” to their clam beds and surrounding sea life. With these clear patterns of corporate pipelines failing, it’s not a matter of IF the Dakota Access Pipeline will break. It’s WHEN.

The way we treat the earth is inseparable from how our society treats women. Rapists rape because they feel entitled to do so, because they’re abetted by cultures that systematically dehumanize certain bodies and lands. For example, in societies, where women’s bodies are intensely politicized, and the prevailing social hierarchy’s privilege certain members and where there’s a presumption of male authority and entitlement, the instances of abuse are greater.  Yet, research suggests that when over- arching values of equity redefine notions of masculinity and male identity, these new approaches can disrupt the status quo of violence against women and children, including rape, and create fertile ground where real change can occur. What if we re-educated all Americans to feel empowered and proud to protect Mother Earth? What if we prioritized healing the bodies of water and Mother Earth over buying a new car every year, or created a culture that values sustainable practices? What if the majority of Super Bowl commercials made it feel exciting to be environmental stewards?!?!

This is why Natives and non-Natives alike must honor the sacrifices being made by the water protectors resisting another dangerous pipeline project. Let’s hold one another accountable for the over use and waste of precious resources. Let’s embrace the acquisition of knowledge and good education for all, so that people are able to critically analyze mass media messages. Let’s nurture our children’s natural love for Mother Earth and reward them for being good stewards of the land. Our strength comes from protecting, not raping.

If you strip away the illusions of consumption and capitalism, you will realize that there is a connection to the earth that cannot be severed or ignored. Your bloodline is your heritage and your ancestry — the future generations, your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and all your relatives throughout history and the natural world. To stand up for what is right and to be a true warrior is about the importance of honoring the water ways, the lifeblood of Mother Earth, and the presence of our ancestors in every molecule and particle surrounding us today.

My final thoughts come directly from the woman who initiated the stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ladonna Bravebull Allard, who founded Sacred Stone Camp, says: “How can we stand in the face of violence? Because I was born to this land, because the roots grow out of my feet, because I love this land and I honor the water. Have we not learned from history? I pray for each of the people who stand up. We cannot live like this anymore. It has to stop—my grandchildren have a right to live. The world has a right to live. The water, the life blood of the world, has a right to live. Mni Wiconi, Water of Life. Pray for the water, pray for the people.”

“Warriors on the front lines are standing for land and life, not only for the sacred water here, but for water across the globe. One day, when this is over and we win this fight, I want my grandchildren to be able to say, ‘My grandmother fought for me so I could be here today.’”

Tracy Rector is a mixed race Choctaw/Seminole curator and filmmaker, a co-founder of Longhouse Media, and serves as a Seattle Arts Commissioner. Rector has made 360 short films, is currently in production of her third feature documentary, CLEARWATER, and has most recently been reporting from the front lines of Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, ND