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~ Sheri Watson
The last morning I drummed, a horse came closer
and closer. I could sense it behind me...a wounded
warrior horse...which had answered the battle cry. A
gentle, gorgeous, ancient presence. My drum beat
today was strong, steady, and held power. It felt
different, the spirit speaking through me at last. I drummed the horse, I drummed to the horse, and I drummed to the prairie, cries and neighs on the spirit's breath. This morning was different.
When I turned around, the horse was standing and looking at me. It’s eyes gentle and almost sad, a back leg bent. I was honored and humbled. I did not approach to touch it...it was someone else's power... mine lay in my drum and spirit.
I only heard the stories of the powerful actions that were in protection of the water, against the Dakota Access Pipe Line. I would die for a cause, if it were necessary. I would protect my family, die for the nations I have within me. But not at this time, it wasn't for me to be in the front lines.
The actions sparked debates and talks around the sacred fire. Some wished for peace only, some would act if necessary, some put themselves out there in the front expecting the worst. That is a western expression, I suppose. The worst. In perspective, a warrior protects the women and children and animals first. Some had done so for the country that surrounds all the reservations on this land. It was not the "worst”, it was and is the inherent position men and some women have held given by Creator in their role in the tribal nation. Death is not "the worst". Not speaking, not protecting, are the weaknesses in the tribal link. When I say 'speak', I mean owning one's destiny.
There are warriors of women, strong in their power. The grandmothers and women often take up the battle first; in strength and courage speaking before anyone else. Women are the catalysts of change. They are warriors of action, they are the power to make decisions, observing quietly yet speaking volumes in decisions. What is not seen is often still humming in the background, in the vibration of the life of the tribal nation. They are the bearers of life in all its asppects. I respect, honor and acknowledge them with humble and deep admiration.
I was not at the camp to interview or write, I was there to support. As a woman, I tried to find my way. But I had not the confidence, courage or traditional heritage that I personally needed to be a woman warrior. I was merely a placeholder. I felt drawn to pray and drum, but was torn to help in ways that I just could not function in. I know now that I was called to do just what I did, except to pray and drum more. That is where my strength lies. My gifts are small and yet I am grateful for them.
I am grateful I was there. I am grateful for the co-existence and teachings I saw and participated in. I honor the men and the women there, the children who learn their ways and form opinions and feelings so appropriately, not trapped as so many were in residential schools of not so long ago. Like the horse, they knew how to live on the land in sacred ways, without hang-ups.
That last morning I drummed, the beat strong, steady and whole. I felt the horse and was grateful. It touched me, and perhaps my drumming touched it. There are so many issues in the world to take up and fight for in peace and in non-violent action, sometimes warranting more. How does a person live with so many variables that affect this sacred life? We live within and in and outside of ourselves and our roles, teaching others and definitely, in the tribal way, being taught by everyone else. Though I did not fit in, I was 'allowed'. I was part of this Dakota Access Pipe Line protection and it has changed me. I am grateful to all there and to my friends and family who supported my attendance. I hope that many more attend; I hope that many learn, give and receive strength, courage and wisdom to act in their own communities too when they return home. All these contributions work for a better and yes, a different future of integral wholeness. May the men, women and children of the Sioux and all the nations find their futures togetther as they have begun a never before seen, in our time, unitiy in spirit and action. I hope this action of PROTECTION of our life's blood, the sacred water, is won. I hope sovereignty is near. This gives them the rights to make their own decisions for the lands Creator has given. By whatever name or lack of name, there is a power in this action of Protection. Let it spread in positive change to all communities ‘til whole living is found.
As I ready to leave, to go back to my life, I extend gratitude to all whom I met and all that I experienced. Wado.
Photo Credit: Sheri Watson