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The Standing Rock Series

Prelude to Part 1

Arriving into North Dakota August 31st, 2016

When this journey began, this chapter I should say, I did not know truly what to expect, but I knew it was somewhere I was meant to be. Every now and then, there are moments in life that come to you that you know that you are meant to live... Like a deep calling, it stirs the fires of passion within your soul, it's a sense of knowing... 

This is the story of Standing Rock, a place we stood to protect the sacred. What does the sacred mean exactly? To put quite simply, our teachings break down to say: to honor life. Water is our first medicine being in the womb, the sacred fire our first teaching. It is believed that the elements have a spirit, and if you listen close, you can hear them.

Our Earth itself is a living being, that is why we call her Mother. In indigenous culture, there are many ways of speaking this, ultimately it is our way of saying that we are meant to be caregivers of this Earth, and to live in harmony with the laws of nature, there are rules. For any life taken to survive, one puts down tobacco to give thanks to this beings blessing, and with that we do not waste any part of it.

We give thanks for all of creation with every morning and night. We pray for others. We have ceremonies for many things, whether it's the sweetgrass, the moon, the sun, the stars, people, animals, etc. We give thanks in such a deep way that we connect to these things in creation, and we believe many have forgotten this path in today's age.

With progressive technology has come a sense of enhanced materialism, but I do not believe all is lost. Yet even so, technology became a really good help at a crucial time when this movement began...

In April of 2016, a group of runners had left the Lakota nation to go to DC on the longest run as I recall (I may have to edit later), and then returned after sounding the callout there to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A pipeline that was passing through indigenous territory and their waters without consent, including on disputed treaty land from both 1851 and 1868. It is unfortunate that in history, honor seems to be lost.

This nation has endured many trials to survive. What was once one of the greatest warrior nations on the entire continent was decimated in the 1800s through starvation, disease, and genocide. Yet even so, there are many there that still hold a deep strength and belief in their hearts. In today's age, poverty, substance abuse, and alcohol are common in certain parts of the reservations with little means to live on. Even so, their traditions have endured, and likewise, the stories have been passed on from the elders over the years, even after the infliction of residential schools, another cultural trauma that sent children to an early grave or damaged them very greatly with decentralized confusion from being taken from their roots and displacing their very way of being.

This image was the first that welcomed me coming into the Lakota nation, what makes it significant is the omen of the Raven. In olden times, the raven was a messenger, that if they did not return alive successfully, a medicine man would read it through the fire where the raven's spirit would arrive, thus the phoenix. To read the fire is a gift of its own, one to cherish, for it is to remembered that fire has spirit too, and like that fire we must remember to feed our spirit as well.

The raven once came to me through a dream 6 1/2 years before in which I had seen that place. There were many of us there that had had similar dreams before going to Standing Rock. It was prophesied by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse when they sat together the last time that the circle would come together and begin to heal. Standing Rock was that beacon to say that it is time we take a stand for our Earth.

Harry Benedict
Harry Benedict

My name is Harry Joseph Benedict; named after my grandfather (Tota). I was born and raised in Akwesasne for most of my life, a reservation that resides in 3 territories (Ont, NY, Que). I enjoy the arts. Currently in college for Business.

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