My Stance on Standing Rock

Occasionally, I have dreams rooted in Native American culture. They come out of nowhere and they’re always powerful. I do not claim to have any connection to Native traditions. These dreams just find me and I share them because I don’t know what to do with them.

 I’ve thought about one I had last winter a lot lately. 

Off and on since 2012, I occasionally visit a medicine man’s hut in dreamtime. I always walk in and sit across from him at the fire. We usually nod at each other to say hello but we never speak. We just sat there in silence and watch the fire.

I didn’t see him for at least a year. Then one night last winter, I found myself at the hut again. I entered the hut and the medicine man spoke to me. He said that it was good to see me again. Then he shouted and pointed up. I looked up through the hole for the smoke in the roof and I saw a big boar in the sky. It trampled everything. It made thunder and lightening with its hooves. Many natives fought it but no one could slay the boar.

Then I woke up.

This afternoon, I dozed off and had a strange dream. I dreamt that there were innumerable tanks and soldiers marching on Standing Rock.  The line went on for as far as the eye could see. It was dry and hot and dusty. War was approaching. The boar had manifested in our world.

The non natives are the boar.

It’s odd I dreamed that because Standing Rock isn’t one of my big issues. As a white woman, I feel my calling is towards fighting the shift in Washington and the way it’s rippling across the country. I figure Standing Rock has so much celebrity support that there’s plenty of attention to the topic so I’m focusing my energy elsewhere. Anything we can do to resist what’s happening in Washington will help Standing Rock and all marginalized people.

Of course I stand with Standing Rock but I have mixed feelings about reports of the “colonization” of the protests. Back in the summer, I wanted to go and I even talked seriously with Ashton, a native friend who had gone, about whether it would be appropriate for me to participate as a Western woman. Ashton told me if I went with an open heart and respected the Native culture, I would be welcomed. I concluded I’d find transportation to get there if I was meant to be there. But it never manifested.

Since then, more and more non Natives are going. But there are many reports that many Natives feel that the protest is being treated like a festival and the non Native protestors, the new “pilgrims” are taking and taking without giving back. They’re interrupting ceremonies and doing performances and “healings” and rejecting supplies the Natives need because they’re not “natural” or “organic”.  I understand everyone who is non Native is not the problem but I expected this to happen because hippie crystal shit gets twisted and mistaken for “native tradition” sometimes. Some peollr don’t get that hippie drum circles do not equal native drumming. “Natural healing” does not equal native medicine. Etc. etc. Using New Age ideas at Standing Rock is colonization and forcing your ways on a people that is there to fight oppression.

Non natives get confused about Native culture because they want to understand the spirituality and honor it but only take little bits from this and that without understanding that these are traditions that go back thousands of years and have a rich, oral heritage. Medicine men train their whole lives to understand sacred knowledge passed down through word of mouth. Just like being a rabbi or imam or priest or priestess, it’s not an easy task. It’s a trial, a life path and it deserves respect. It’s not something you can barge right in to. It’s a loving dedication that comes from the heart, according to medicine men I’ve had the chance to talk to.

The best I can hope for is that those non natives going go with an open mind and act respectfully. I hope they let themselves be included instead of trying to determine what inclusion means. 

 To those non Natives passionate about Standing Rock: This is not a “cultural exchange”. This is a time to listen to and respect the elders who have spent their entire lives immersed in their culture and are fighting to protect the land that was stolen from their people and the non natives — both military and protestors — are trying to steal again.

I don’t know how to say this any more bluntly but the white man is the boar. If we want to help, we non native can donate and then  turn out attention to the White House. If we want to protect Standing Rock and the Native traditions, focus your energy on Washington. I dreamed of Washington burning to the ground. This war coming is a lot more than Standing Rock and I think the Beast is staring at us in the mirror.

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