All my life, there has always been a small hole in my heart.
This hole is a sense of emptiness I have felt in the realization that I am not the same kind of Indian my ancestors were; the kind of Indian that lived off the land and had a close relationship with all living things in the universe.
However, after I joined the #NoDAPL protest and camped near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota with 5,000+ other American Indians last weekend, that hole in my heart was filled.
My heart was filled with happiness in seeing little indigenous babies running around the camp playing, and in seeing the elders visit with young ones. My heart was full in seeing young men riding horses around the camp bareback. My heart was full in hearing different tribal languages and songs native to this land. My heart was full in seeing dances that were once outlawed by the government. My heart was full every time I heard women lulu and the men war-hoop when new visitors would arrive at the camp. My heart was full every time I caught a whiff of a camp fire, or sage. My heart was full in seeing the sun set every day that I was there, and in watching the stars twinkle at night. Even when the wind was blowing my hair out of place and making it hard to manage, my heart was full. My heart was full when I held hands with people from other tribes and round danced. My heart was especially full every time I laid down at night to close my eyes and would hear someone singing sweet songs across the camp in a tongue that is distinctly only native to this land. My heart was full.
It’s terrible that we’re still in conflict with the government and now corporate America over land disputes. However, as much as I am frustrated over the legal and ethical issues between tribes and the government, I am equally and utterly grateful for the unification that has taken place amongst tribes in the U.S. and even with other parts of the Americas.
With all that indigenous peoples have gone through for the last 500 years with genocide and colonization, I think this unification was the type of intervention and healing that we needed for our communities, our spirits, and our hearts.
I know a lot of people have obligations such as school or work they have to tend to, but I would strongly encourage everyone to spend at least one weekend at the #NoDAPL camp. Save your money, make the time, and just go. It will fill your heart.