I recently learned of the passing of a great man.
In mid-2016, I was drawn to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. I visited to see if I could help keep the oil pipeline from crossing the headwaters and the tribal lands.
When I returned in September, it was with the conviction to remain. I had no tribe and no affiliation and looked for an opportunity to make a formal request to stay.
Each day began with prayers around the fire. From my bed in the car, I could hear his voice over the loud speaker as the light barely cracked the darkness. “Kiktapo! Get up. We have work to do. We must stop the black snake.” And there he would be welcoming all to the fire. People came from all corners of the world and all faiths and he welcomed them to offer their prayers.
And when I would attend the day’s orientation, he would be there again leading with prayer, holding the vision, teaching us about courage and strength through example.
He was the one I asked to stay in the camp. I made my offer to help and he welcomed me. And when I asked where to place my tent, he told me, “Here, next to my family.”
The next several weeks were life changing as weather, rubber bullets, water cannons and infiltrators cut into us. But the prayers never faltered.
Guy Dullknife was a cherished father, husband, artist, veteran and member of the American Indian Movement, but those are not my stories to tell.
For me, he was a link to my deepest wishes for humankind. That one-day we will rise, all people, with acceptance and respect, and take back the earth, which is our right. As the living, it is our right and our duty.
Thank you Guy, for prayers that never falter. We carry on.