Cotton candied clouds hung lazily above us with a color so vibrant it must have been painted by the imagination of a child. Fluorescent pinks, purples and oranges of every shade danced across the clouds from the horizon.
We were back on the grounds Sunday morning bright and early. People were stirring, the sounds of construction and tribal song filled the area. The camp looked and felt much different than the night before. We took time to familiarize ourselves the the nuances of the camp only sunlight could expose. Compost piles, medical tents, clothing and food donation areas were spread out around the center of camp. A pile of wood to fuel the spirit fire was the one area from which campers could not help themselves, for it fueled a fire of sacred practice and symbolized the passion of the people here.
Among other things, we observed sacred tribal chant and song, the likes of which I tend to recall as I rest at night. It seemed as if nothing could keep strangers from volunteering with camp chores, conversing and smiling at other passerby. You could feel the respect everyone had for one another; we had all traveled so far to come together in peace and purity in order to support the cause and people of the land.
This was a gun, alcohol and drug free area. These protectors did not want to demonstrate in violence, they did not want the sanctity of the grounds to be ruined due to intoxicated decisions. In a way, the car check entrance was a foreshadow to the sobering reality that there have been people camped for months in peace yet brutalized by authority; there is a gorgeous life-giving water source that while unable to speak is being arduously spoken for.
A man named Isaac Murdoch of the Sioux tribe painted what has become a symbol of the effort and I believe it is him who wrote “man does not string the web of life, only one strand of it.”