The Loving Contagion of Courage: Veterans Standing for Standing Rock

Published on truthout, by Four Arrows, Dec 1, 2016.

In spite of freezing weather and orders from the North Dakota governor to curtail emergency medical services to Standing Rock and deem people’s mere presence there illegal, thousands of veterans are coming to take part in a massive, peaceful operation December 4-7 at Standing Rock, the site of ongoing Indigenous resistance to the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL).  

At this point, 2,000 veterans from Veterans for Peace and Veterans Standing for Standing Rock have registered to take part in this operation, and more are continuing to sign up. I am one of them. Together we will help the Water Protectors and give them a break from the brutality they have suffered. Initially drawn together by Army veteran Wesley Clark, Jr., and former Marine Michael Wood, Veterans Standing for Standing Rock has circulated its invitation far and wide since early November, calling for veterans to “assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia” and “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security.”

In what appears to be a counter-move in response to this impending mobilization of veterans, the Army Corps of Engineers, which has the power to disallow DAPL from crossing the river, gave an eviction notice on November 25 to the tribal chair to have all the campers at the main oceti sakowin camp move to 40 acres on Corps of Engineers land on the other side of the cannonball river … //

… We do not know yet what will happen next week when the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock are engaged in their operations. We do not know if there will be a forceful eviction or how peaceful actions will occur strategically. We do not know what strategy DAPL will employ or how they will instruct their state and government allies. We do not know the effects of weather or what will happen after the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock and large numbers of people return to their homes. Whatever will happen will require the utmost in loving courage and fearlessness on the part of the Water Protectors. Send them your prayers, and please also send prayers that our brothers and sisters who are in the National Guard and the police departments will catch this spirit of loving courage. We must pray that these officers, who are in danger of conducting more terrorism, will instead set down their weapons to join us all in remembering who we really are, as we transition away from the dominant worldview and toward a worldview of interconnectedness.

(full text, hyper-links, related links).

(Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows), AKA Don Trent Jacobs, is currently a professor in the College of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Of Irish/Cherokee descent and a made-relative of the Oglala, he previously lived and worked on the Pine Ridge reservation where he served as director of education at Oglala Lakota College on Pine Ridge and fulfilled his four sun dance vows with the Rick Two Dogs Medicine Horse band. He was named one of 27 “Visionaries in Education” by the Alternative Education Resource Organization, and is recipient of the Martin Springer Institute’s “Moral Courage Award” for his activism. He is the author of 20 books).


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