The word “Sacred” in the name “Sacred Stone Camp” is often glossed over in mainstream media reports of the gathering of over 200 Nations and as many as 7,000 Protectors near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
Sacred is a word that many white progressives struggle with, and that’s potentially why many progressive white activists and media outlets focus on the technical aspects of the Sacred Stone camp’s strategies, legal battles, and activism: it’s more familiar. But, what is lost when people say “Sacred Stone” as if the sacred element is an after thought, or worse, just a place name?
Part of why the Sacred Stone, Red Warrior, and Oceti Sakowin camps and the #NoDAPL movement are garnering worldwide attention is because of the images circulating of Protectors acting in alignment with the sacred, to protect the sacred. From Nations greeting each other in ceremony over a sacred fire, to horse-mounted Protectors in formation to stop pipeline construction, to women calling on private security guards to stand down, the Protectors of Mni wiconi act in ways that remind people, everywhere, of what clean, bright, resonantly clear integrity with the sacred looks like.
In contrast, when white North Dakota Sheriff’s officers don full body armor and assault rifles to “protect” the pipeline, part of what they are doing is making obvious how little regard for the sacred they have, and how out of integrity their actions are with their stated mission. The Mission Statement of the office of the Sioux county Sherriff’s office describes the office as, “committed to maintaining the public’s trust, providing protection, and professional leadership, by utilizing our skills and resources with integrity.” Clearly, the Sherriff’s office hasn’t protected the people from private security forces, nor maintained the trust of many of the people in the area of Cannon Ball - unless “public” means only white people, and the words “for corporations” were inserted after “providing protection.” The mission of the Sherriff’s office has sacred components, but the actions of the office clearly betray the sacred role they’ve been given.
Sherriff’s officers point guns at people whose hands are locked down to heavy equipment: where is the threat? Why is a piece of iron with a diesel engine more necessary to protect than human beings? It isn’t, and everyone knows that, even those who work for the Sheriff’s office. While the actions of the Sherriff’s officers, and the private security firm employees hired by Energy Transfer Partners, are out of integrity with their stated missions, the acts of the #NoDAPL Protectors are grounded in very sacred forms of integrity. Thanks to social media, cell phones, and the web, millions have been able to witness these moments of confrontation, of differing levels of integrity and groundings in the sacred, from afar. These actions have occurred for generations, yet now, millions get to see with their own eyes and hear with their hearts. The Protectors call all of us to deepen our own alignment with sacred integrity.
While I joined the Protectors at Sacred Stone, I spent time contributing to community and in doing so, heard many people speak and share from their hearts about confronting the lies of modern life and carrying forward that which their elders had given to them, along with their own sense of their gifts and purpose. The experience shifted my internal compass to a truer North, and I know my days will never look or feel the same again. When a woman who is a leader at the camp stood before the community of Sacred Stone and said, “This is a ceremony – act accordingly,” I felt her challenge, and her call. The Protectors call all of us to deepen our own alignment with sacred integrity.
I act accordingly – and invite you to do so as well. My integrity is grounded in the sacred, and from that place, I steer my actions, my responses to people and places, and my approach to caring for the Earth's resources and beings. From where you are, from what you know of the sacred, from what your answer is to the questions posed by the Nations gathered at the Sacred Stone camp – treat your time now as ceremony, and act accordingly. With so much occurring in the social fabric of the United States, bringing awareness to integrity and the sacred will support the best possible outcomes in each interaction. Not everyone has to go to the camp, or change jobs tomorrow, or stop ordering items from Amazon. Do what you can to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. And, in everyday life, follow the call, and act, as you are able, to expand the incredible forms of change occurring at Oceti Sakowin, Red Warrior, and Sacred Stone camps.