The U.S. Army corps of engineers has today, December 4, 2016 announced that they will deny key permits for the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and explore alternative routes, one day ahead of a deadline they'd set for the evacuation of Oceti Sakowin. As we celebrate this victory, it is important to name the sacred roots of the resistance at the camp, which is often portrayed with ugly caricatures drawing on centuries old stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples.
When I told my friend Erica Littlewolf that I was going to Standing Rock for a week as a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, she encouraged me to reflect from "a mind space and also a heart space" as a white man in that setting. I heard this refrain again on my first morning in the camp during our orientation to Oceti Sakowin camp, when the facilitators invited us to focus on our heart space and "walk in touch with the land and with themselves." That might mean, for example, holding onto our questions instead of asking them immediately so that we can listen to the knowing in ourselves.
Again and again during my week there, I felt Oceti Sakowin pull me into that heart space.