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Standing Rock – Conversations and Actions with my Kids

For some time now I’ve been trying to figure out how to go with my kids out to Standing Rock, ND to physically be there and support the protection of water, sacred lands, and treaties. Turns out instead of going we’re donating the money to Wabanaki youth who are raising funds to go out. For any of you who are still wanting to go, 350 has a charter bus going from Vermont from Nov 18-27. There are also actions all over the US on November 15th at Army Corps of Engineers. Find an action near you. I wish I could give you a link, but I can’t seem to find a good link. Search #NoDAPL Day of Action for your area. Now, more than ever, it feels crucial to be standing in solidarity with all people who are on the frontlines, holding the line, standing up for what is right.

I wanted to share with you the conversations I’ve had with my kids and some of the action we’ve taken too.

Should we go to Standing Rock?

Recently my kids were talking about going camping and I said, “I want to go out and camp at Standing Rock.” Them, “What’s Standing Rock?” Me, “Remember talking about the Indigenous water protectors who are resisting an oil pipeline going through their land?” Them, “Yeah.” Me, “Well they have been camped out there for 6 months and plan to camp as long as it takes to ensure that future generations have water. They have asked people to come camp with them.” I decided not to go into broken treaties and sacred sites and the gross violation of Native American rights by the US Government and North Dakota government. This is something we’ll talk about at some point soon, but being 4 & 7 they have a short attention span. I want to have that conversation with books and maps in front of us.

Click on the map to read the article that goes with it.

The kids were immediately super excited and starting planning what kind of warm clothes and blankets they would need to bring out to the plains. They got especially excited about learning Lakota at the camp school. Since that conversation we’ve talked to other families who are also thinking about going out. A Parenting 4 Social Justice caravan seemed like a possibility – it still might be. However, after some thought, we’ve decided to pool the money we would have spent going out there. We will support the fundraising efforts of Native youth from Vermont and this region who are planning to go out. I’m donating to a delegation of Wabanaki youth – this request is from a group I know and trust.

Donating Supplies & Making Calls

Since we aren’t going to go out there I sat down with my kids to look through the ways we can support the resistance there. We looked through the wishlist of supplies for the camps. We didn’t have anything we could send. Hmmmmm….

Let’s make calls. Our (my!) solidarity project was cutting into cartoon time. Kids, “Mom, you just make the phone calls – we gotta go.” I guess that makes sense – I would rather watch TV too! Making calls is the hardest part of activism for me. I called the White House – whoever answered hung up on me. I called the Governor of North Dakota and left a message. I called the Army Corps of Engineers and got confused and didn’t end up getting through. Then I got stuck on who to call next. If anyone has advice, or an updated list on who and how to call please share.

Making Solidarity Signs

The next day it was time to make signs for the Standing Rock solidarity rally at TD bank. The conversation went like this…

Me –    We need to make signs for the Standing Rock rally.

River whispers in Birch’s ear –   Love Oil, Not Water (giggle, giggle)

Birch looks at him sternly and says –    No, it’s Love Water, Not Oil

Me –   This is pretty important. What would you think about an oil pipeline running through our town, over our river? Pipelines break and the water gets contaminated. There shouldn’t be pipelines over any rivers. We need to find ways to live without takingany more oil or gas out of the ground.

Birch –   yeah, we should take the train instead of driving or flying.

River –   Ok, I’m going to make a sign that says Love Water, Not Oil

Usually an art project with my kids feels somewhat like pulling teeth, but not this time. Making signs was a hit. And since they made their own signs, they were really excited to go to the protest/rally. I will definitely be making more signs with my kids in the future!

Solidarity with Standing Rock Rally

Nov 4th there were around 150 people who gathered in front of TD Bank in Brattleboro, VT. We were holding the bank accountable for loaning money to the Dakota Access Pipeline. People were withdrawing their money and delivering letters to the bank. There were so many families and kids. Inspiring! My kids and I got there right around 5pm and started chanting with everyone – “What Do We Want? DAPL Out. When do we want it? Now!” At one point B looked up at me and asked, “Is this it?” He wanted to march, but before the marching down Main St. began the kids got hungry. I don’t know about your kids, but my kids get rambunctious and unsafe when hungry. We had to go get food. Note to self – next time bring a big bag of food! I was bummed. Even though we weren’t there the whole time my kids got to be a part of standing up for justice, and for peace, and for life.

With my kids at The Standing Rock Rally in Brattleboro, VT – in front of TD Bank which is loaning money for the pipeline. Nov 2016

Why is this so important?

Today, Nov 13th, I had another important conversation with my kids. We were on a hike by the Connecticut River and I was saying a prayer for the water – the rivers and watersheds and oceans. I said a prayer of gratitude for the water protectors at Standing Rock. I asked Great Spirit for strength and courage to stand up in the days that come as the fight to protect Mother Earth is intensifying. My kids, who hadn’t stopped moving since 6:30am, settled right down and prayed with me.

When we finished the prayer we looked across the river and wondered if it was a waste water treatment plant we were seeing. They wanted to know about waste water treatment. We had an excellent (and unusual!) 10 minute conversation about water, pollution, environmental protection, climate change. When I told them that Trump is planning to end the EPA they were in shock. These are two boys who have barely batted an eye about Trump’s election. They don’t really know enough about him to know why we are so upset. But they were appalled that he says climate change is a hoax and that he wants to put more oil & gas pipelines over rivers. I was proud of how energized they were to stand up to protect the waters.

Here are some links that you can check out for how to support the struggle.

This struggle for water, for indigenous rights & sovereignty, for LIFE, will go on for a long time – both at Standing Rock and at all the pipeline sites around the country and the world. There will be many more opportunities for all of us to show up. How are you showing up with your family?

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life!

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