Above Photo: Alex Garland.
I’ve always thought from the get go when outsiders/non-natives are coming into our community’s… there should be a protocol in place… like an orientation, or even bigger than that.
I believe that if one is going to work or volunteer in American Indian communities, then 1. You must have the heart for it, not everyone from the outside can handle Indian Country. My people have suffered hundreds of years of trauma and still live the effects of it in our communities. So if you aren’t coming to our lands with a genuine heart and the want to really understand our people, then you aren’t ready to help us. 2. If you have never lived among us, been around us, learned our ways or even aware of them… then as outsiders you must learn or have value in it enough to respect it. Respect who we are and understand that we want the help, we want the support. But we do not need outsiders to come in and try to run things. Work with us! Our culture, our people, our ways, Creator and Mother Earth; they are all important and vital to us. We do not need outsiders coming in and trying to change that either.
I had the privilege to go to Standing Rock in August and I went two more times after that, up until the end of November. I don’t intend to sound exaggerated, but from my 1st visit to camp when there was nothing but prayers, tipi’s, tents and the songs of various tribes all around you, until my most recent one where militarized police were using water cannons on my people, almost blew off the arm of another protector, outsiders came and built their own structures the way they wanted and to their benefit, without regard to the land they were on. Strangers to the cause coming in and putting strain on resources. It was like watching 500 years of colonization on fast forward.