Wake up call at Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock
Mni Wiconi! Mni Wiconi!!! MNI WICONI!!!
Water is life! Water Is Life!!! WATER IS LIFE !!!!! Would be heard from my hearth by the wood stove at the Main Dome every morning at 6 am! Time to rekindle the fire for my brothers and sisters sleeping under The Dome (a geodesic structure). I would look down at my mattress and see if I had anymore company during that long, cold and winter night! Last night I had a women that got lost in the storm and could not find her camping area...on my mattress bundled in the blanket I found. Time to stoke the fire as I hear the Elders at the main prayer circle at the Oceti Sakowin Camp continue to say through the camp loud speaker system.... It is a good day!! Wake up!! Wake up !! Water Protectors!! There is much to be done!! I see my breath and feel a chill as I look about the dome and see wall to wall sleeping bags lying motionless. Yes, much to be done....I re stoke the fire and bank it up allowing it to roar through the open baffle....and then somebody softly nudges me...can I help? I say sure and give a welcoming smile, for that is how it it around here...we all help each other!!!
At a little after 7 am I gently go, with help, to all the sleeping bodies, more each night now as the storms are getting worse, and softly whisper, wake up my brother/sister!! Lots of groans as I ready the dome for its first meeting of the day at 8 am. This is my warming shelter at night that I tend the fires and the main meeting hall during the day! I give one last yawn and we all then work together, sometimes over 80 of us who have seeked shelter here, to turn our bedroom into a meeting room! It is a good day as I now here the drummers at the ceremonial prayer over the loud speakers go into a rhythmic beat and song. I go out and in the crisp, cold sky...I sometimes see a flock of snow geese high up!! Then I head to the prayer circle to give my blessings to the sacred fire, A fire that is very ancient to The People! A circle of water protectors has formed an it increasingly grows in size as more are added to the circle. Time to start morning prayers and give thanks to another day!! Gift of our Mother!! We then start our water ceremony!! This happens every morning in the Oceti Sakomin camp for me. Everyone has a different morning story and this is mine!
I arrived back in Vermont around 4 am last night. Many stories to tell and this is just one of them!! A'ho my family!! Time to rest this body for another day for we are only at the break of a new dawn in our lives!! Mni Wiconi!! Water Is Life!!
- Rod Munroe, Vermont resident, just returned from Standing Rock