Open Letter to White People at Standing Rock

Beautifully written. Applause. Applause. And it is no understatement that white folks in camp were trying to take over, when it was not their place. I was embarrassed to be white at those moments. And this is not looking down the nose, but an acknowledgement of white folks not being humble and respectful. And it’s not about making someone feel small, rather, but a lesson to learn. We white folks have been taught that we have all the answers…but alas, we do not. Or we would not be in the mess we’re in right now. We have forgotten to be humble — that anything given to us has been given by the Creator. We have forgotten to take care of the Earth as God’s creation.

As a side note~
Just this morning, I was reading about the Iroquois and our Constitution. First, the name Iroquois is a French insult meaning “venomous snakes” — their actual name is Haudenosaunee (pronounced Ho-deh-no-shaw-nee). What Benjamin Franklin, et al, left out of the Constitution were two very important attributes of the Haudenosaunee’s democracy: women could vote and Clan mothers could remove leaders from office. Interesting how that never made it into the Constitution, eh?

Another note on women and their diminished power came from a Native woman who was puzzled at the feminists of the 70s who sought to make women into men. She said her natural inclination was to bear children and nurture them…and yet the feminists were degrading that role. Her point was that she had strong women surrounding her, that also nurtured her as she was growing up. Yet feminists would have one believe that the two were mutually exclusive. Not so.

At camp, I remarked to an older lady that I was in awe about being amongst so many strong women. I had not known that in my home state. She looked at me with interest. I said, “I’m from Indiana.” With a knowing answer, she said, “I’m sorry.” All joking aside, this could be said of any place in the United States…or the world…as the rape culture, a flag as to the contempt of women, is worldwide.

Voices from the Margins

By Miriam Schacht (RoteZora)

I wrote this note while staying at the Two Spirit Nation camp within the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock about a week ago. I originally drove out there to help someone else out, but without the intention of staying, because I take seriously the critiques that suggest that white activists have been taking over the protests. However, I stayed much longer than I intended because it turned out that there was important work to do as a white accomplice–work that addressed precisely the issue of white activists at these camps and these actions. Part of the necessary work of white accomplices is to lessen the burden on people of color. At camp that meant I was asked by Two Spirit folks to give white visitors “allyship 101” or “Two Spirit 101” lectures; this letter is my attempt to keep that work up, and keep taking…

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