Shambhala at Standing Rock
Flying the Shambhala Flag, practitioners join the Water Protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipe Line
by Stephen Wood
You may have heard and are hearing many different viewpoints and opinions to Sunday’s extreme escalation of violence and peaceful protest between the Water Protectors and the militarized law enforcement, private contractors, and National Guard. We have very limited access to the outside world here, and are hearing about very honest reports about the Stand on the bridge, and also hearing about blatant lies being told.
What I want to share is about the spirit, prayer, ritual, community at Oceti Sakowin Camp. The camp is clean, organized, and well prepared. It is a large tent camp with a population of a small rural town. Their kitchens, medic tents, art center, legal tents, registration tents, donation areas, construction barns for winter platforms and shelters, and much more. There are porta potties and dumpsters that are cleaned on a daily basis. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is providing all the systemic support.
At the Center of all camp focus is the sacred fire. I cannot properly articulate what happens there. We are very honored and blessed to be apart of many sacred ceremonies from Natives American Tribes and Indigenous People from all over the World. What is happening is a gathering of Chiefs and Tribes unlike any other in the known history.
We practice our Buddhist Shamatha Meditation in the mornings and afternoons, look for ways to help around camp during the day, and participate in communal Sacred Fire gatherings and offerings in the evenings. The Shambhala Flag flies in our little camp. We will then donate the flag to be flown along side all the Tribal and community flags along Flag Road, the main entrance to the camp.
We are outside all time. Which may be a little cold at times but is very nice. Tomorrow we will go to the Fort Yates High School for a large community Thanksgiving gathering with prayer and food.
At Oceti Sakowin Camp. Got here yesterday. It’s so beautiful and amazing. But very real, raw, cold, and intense. Limited cell service. Today we spent the day getting all the donations to all the correct camp tents. It’s a small town. Truly beautiful. Very peaceful spiritual camp.
The front line of “protests” is much different. The water protectors are always peaceful, holding a protest line along the bridge of the main road. The military is hosing everyone down with water cannons mounted on tanks. They shoot people at point blank range with “rubber” bullets. Tear gas grenades are launched into the middle of the crowds holding the line. Last night I found out what’s it’s like to be tear gassed. It hurts really bad. There is lots to do in camp. Today we had a regular morning welcome and introduction. In a little bit, there will be a Direct Action daily training session.
The community here is truly wonderful. The surface can sometimes seem chaotic but the organization is constantly happening to keep everyone together, fed, and aware. It is something to experience. Phenomenal. The most exceptional part is the constant message this is a Native American Indigenous movement. The Elders making the decisions are often spoken of. The spiritual respect needing to be observed at all times is constant. Sacred fires and sacred areas are the centerpieces of all the camps.