Last night, as I lay in my bed, camp stove blazing, I could hear the joyful sounds of drumming and singing from the dome, a space age geodesic donated to Oceti Sakowin Camp. A round dance was happening there.

I flashed back to a few weeks ago, when I watched a group of people sitting in circle where the dome would soon be erected. They were praying. From my distance I felt them calling for help, for guidance, to allow this to become a useful gathering space. It has.

In the darkness of the night, in strange harmony with the joyful song, came the sound of a bugle playing Taps. Not just playing Taps, singing Taps, crying Taps. The juxtaposition at first startled me and then I realized the exquisite beauty of this moment.

Today the “Long Robes” have come to pray with the Lakota people, invited by Chief Looking Horse months ago. The intention of this interfaith gathering is to pray and to invite those of our brothers and sisters, standing in full military gear in opposition to consider a change in heart.

Many of us have met the police and invited their support while on the front lines. I will never forget my moment, talking to each person I met, face mask to face, human to human. This moment when so many will converge for peace will surely be a powerful one.

And now come the Veterans. Thousands of Veterans are arriving to stand in protection of the peaceful. No weapons, no drugs, no alcohol, are the rules of the day. This is a camp of prayer and ceremony.

This morning as I woke before the sun, the sound of Revelry playing in the distance made me smile. So very many of the Lakota are Veterans. For generations all Native people have stood on the front lines of battle by request of their government, the US.Now, the Veterans have come to protect them from the very government they served with pride.

If I didn’t have work to do, I would sit here and weep all day for the reconciliation that is taking place.

I heard, briefly, a sheriff from Morton County in press conference yesterday spinning tales about this camp and about the motivation to invite the Veterans. There is heartlessness to these tales. They are the untruths that the American public is now accustomed to but should never accept. Stories told by those who are being paid and have colluded in compromise to tell them. No one is paying the Long Robes. No one is paying the Veterans. No one is paying me. I am free to tell all who will listen, “This is a good day. This will be a good day. Let us make this a good day. A day of reconciliation and a day when the heart triumphs.”

I have waited my whole life for this moment and all the moments that will follow. My heart is full, regardless of outcome, for the intentions of this day are some of the finest of our collective spirit. Peace will prevail.



photo by Redhawk, who spoke to these men before taking this picture. His account:

I spoke to you today at Turtle Hill. I could see you felt uncomfortable standing up there. I could feel you did not want to be on that hill. I spoke to you about Selma, and the civil and human right violation that have stretched from that era to the day upon us now. I spoke to you about my hometown, of Atlanta, GA. I spoke about how those men do not care about you, and about how you were the only minority on that hill. I spoke to you about how Chief Turner in Atlanta is always looking for good officers, and how I assume he would be very proud to have you in the birthplace of civil rights. I told you I would personally fly with you to Atlanta if you contacted the camp and stepped away from Morton County Sheriffs. I watched you sit down, and think. I could see you felt the words I was speaking, and before you stood up and stepped back from the line, I saw you look me directly in the eyes. I saw you, and not a badge.
I keep my promises. Feel free to contact our camp. We love you for who you are. Thank you for listening.

Oceti Sakowin Camp

Standing Rock Rising


One thought on “Reconciliation

  1. Dearest Dena, Thank you with my whole heart for the service you are doing. My heart rejoices for the love you and others are giving to us ALL by your actions. My heart is sad though that Humans can treat Humans in such a way. We all hold within us so much love, peace and understanding yet, it seams very hard for some to even go close to those trees…..Never mind sitting under them and exhaling. Fear and greed and power is what is being fought. It is as if Heart is having a face to face with mind. Everyone there are so strong. How I wish Jack and I were with you. We would be if we could. All my love, Marilyn Napoline


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