Photographer Taliesin Gilkes-Bower shares his stunning photos from Standing Rock in hopes of raising awareness and donations for the cause.
In April, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe established the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota to protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens sacred lands and could contaminate water supplies from the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Since then, thousands of activists—rallied around the causes of indigenous rights and climate change—have joined the protest and made their way to Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Law enforcement, on their part, has reacted by using tear gas, water cannons (in below-freezing temperatures), rubber bullets, and sound weapons against protestors. Over 400 people have been arrested and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recently issued an ultimatum stating that they will close the camp to all public use by December 5.
"It's politricks time again," he writes to Okayafrica. "October. Indigenous People's Month. November. Thanksgiving. December. Christmas. Apocalypse comes from the Greek and literally means a revelation or unveiling. As in: the veil has been lifted. As in: Octavia saw it coming, Delaney saw it coming, Erykah saw it coming, Wainaina saw it coming, Winona and Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and Peltier, they too all knew what unbridled capitalism Satanically wed to settler colonialism would bring to this Earth. And here we are. The 7th generation manifest in peace and power reflected."
Donate to Sacred Stone Camp here and view their Amazon wish list for individual items.
"Moments of revelation are painful in their truth and possibility," Gilkes-Bowe continues. "For thousands of years the front lines have been our communities, our homes and our bodies. At Standing Rock the front line is the Back Water bridge on highway 1806 and Sioux burial grounds that have already been riven in the name of profit."
"Thousands upon thousands have gathered unarmed in prayer to stand with the spirit of a universal truth: 'Mni Wiconi, Water Is Life.' Across the river, militarized police defend a private corporation's interests with the weapons of war. The Army Core of Engineers propose a "Free Speech Zone." It's getting cold in North Dakota, but spirits across the camps are stronger than ever."
"Are you ready to join this fight? Can you find time to pray today, to donate, to go. Maybe you're already in the mix in your own community and this is yet another reminder why we wake up everyday and face this global vampire. Energy Transfer Partners is perfectly named for a Janus face of this creeping monoculture that seeks to monetize and destroy all that we call sacred. Some things are simple, the people are rising, where are you called to serve?"
Elders before receiving copies of the 1493 Vatican issued "Doctrine of Discovery." 524 Clergy members travelled to Standing Rock to refute this Papal Doctrine. The Doctrine stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed, and exploited by Christian rulers and declared that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.” This “Doctrine of Discovery” became the spiritual basis of all European claims in the Americas as well as the foundation for the United States’ western expansion. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
A clergy member wrapped in an Episcopal flag looks on in tears as hundreds of fellow clergy members march in prayer to the front line police barricade on highway 1806 just North of Oceti Sakowin camp. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
Three bus loads of police officers, some in SWAT style tactical gear, unload from school buses at the North Dakota state capitol while 14 religious leaders from across America are arrested in the background for occupying the Capitol building in an act of civil disobedience. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network hosting a livestream from "Facebook hill," one of the only places in Oceti Sakowin camp to receive phone service. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
"Until we put the past in the past we will never a day in the present. When we complicate life, life becomes complicated. Getting back to the basics is a place to start. For change to come into fruition someone always has to the take first step in a new direction."
Tipi poles at sunset. Standing Rock continues to be an opportunity for young people to learn new skills and exchange stories and skills with Native people from across Turtle Island. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
A Water Protector stands in defiance as militarized police patrol a sacred burial ground, far from the DAPL work site. Earlier in the day Water Protectors who attempted to hold a prayer ceremony on this holy ground were sprayed with teargas and mace. Photography: Taliesin Gilkes-Bower.
Chase Lauallay and two Water Protectors ferrying supplies to a frontline prayer protest held on Turtle Island, sacred land being held by Morton Country Sherriffs Department despite its distance for the pipeline work site.