I’ve been quiet in the blogosphere for quite a long time. It’s not like me. I usually have so much to say. And I’ve composed so many deep, insightful posts or snippets of posts in my head in the past few months. Yet none of them have been committed to writing.

Very few people, even those closest to me, know that I still struggle with who I am and how to live my life in the best way possible since returning from Standing Rock. This is rare for me. I usually know exactly what I want and go for it relentlessly and, almost always, successfully.

This struggle is not something I talk about much aside from with a small group of us that comfort each other through our reintegration challenges. Whether we were in camp for a few hours or a few months we all felt a loss of something life changing when it was no more.

This live, prayer-filled ceremony for Mother Earth changed everyone that it touched. Standing Rock showed us what potential we have within us to bond with people from every corner of the earth and every walk of life with whom we share a collective heart and a collective cause. In this case, it was an honorable cause in the face of heinous aggression. And even if we were in ways “strangers,” no one there was a stranger really.

So why are so many of us still struggling months later? Some call it grief, but I think it’s more existential than this. A friend explained it differently.

I realize it is not all grief though….there is much difficulty when you turn around from a huge crowd that is walking toward a cliff….a painful walk that leaves me often with tears streaming down my face but with head and shoulders held higher than before.

This is the walk I face every day. I think I’ve faced it my whole life. I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve felt as if I saw something I felt was so important for our world that no one around me cared much about. Standing Rock and my family there simply brought this quality to light in such a way as I can never bury it again.

We’re faced with a very serious situation in this generation. There are insane people who wish to rule the world. They wish to continue to rule the world on violence and repression, and we are all the victims of that violence and repression. We as the indigenous people of the western hemisphere have been resisting this oppression for 500 years. We know that the black people have been resisting it for at least that long. And we know that the white people have had to endure it thousands of years. And now it’s come full swing to this generation that we live in…

These powerful words were delivered by John Trudell in a famous Thanksgiving Day speech in 1980 when nuclear proliferation was the crisis of the day. And they ring just as powerfully true almost 40 years later. More true, in my mind, because we are all awake to the insanity. We know now because our relations in North Dakota woke us up from a deep sleep.

The many bands of the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota for seven council fires) came together for the first time in 150 years to stand together and with all who would join them in defense of both their own sovereign treaty rights and clean water for all of us. These brave, resilient people brought it to our attention that although the crisis is different, our whole planet is still under threat.

What will you do about this threat today?

I think what I shall do is stand up and dust myself off and get back to writing about things I can no longer remain mute about. My shouting or sending poetry out into the void may help no one but myself. And that will be enough.

Don’t they say saving the world begins with saving yourself?


Ryan Vizzions Photo :: This iconic Standing Rock image and many more like it can be found at No Spiritual Surrender