I worked as part of the Oceti Sakowin Camp Media crew, communicating what was happening in the largest camp at Standing Rock to the outer world consistently—what the logistical needs were, responding to the spin, spelling out what we were doing in camp, and calling out systematic problems as quickly as we were able. Like so many I had only planned to stay for 2 weeks, and stayed for just over four months, arriving the day after Treaty Camp fell and a few hours before the Backwater Bridge barricade was established, in a low-level war zone.
Coming from a career driven by the schedule of industry—my background in communications work spans 15 years, including web and graphic design, social media strategy, and a lot of volunteer work. I was a corporate packaging graphics designer for 9 years, mostly selling people things they don’t need, but that experience helped at Standing Rock. I started with Oceti Sakowin Camp Media as the map-maker, creating the orientation map that helped newcomers know where to go to volunteer, drop donations, and navigate the largest camp at Standing Rock. The website and social media for the camp was started by Timmery Turner. By mid-November I was taking on more responsibility including website help and FB help. By the time the Backwater Bridge incident happened on November 20th I was writing press-releases and editing video.
In the span of two weeks I took on the role of primary FB and website admin, and did my best to help answer the questions of a crew of 10-12 people, busy addressing inquiries and concerns from the outer-world. I collaborated on story ideas, and collected content from our photographers and videographers to post with relevant facts and Lakota quotes. For a short time I helped with press conferences and acted as assistant editor, reviewing stories and video for posting. My personal time was spent collecting stories in camp and developing a running Veterans of Standing Rock series profiling some of the honorable souls who came to use their skills to Protect Protectors, or going to the front to practice action photography… a jump from photographing sustainable farming practice, where my heart was at when I left Olympia, WA.
Over my course of service I developed 2 more maps including a comprehensive search and rescue map that was of use to medical, construction, and security crews, and the clean-up map we used to let the “Joint Task Force” know we did have a system and plan for clean-up in place. In late December we integrated regular prayer posts into our daily cycle. In mid-January I started to work closely with Paula Antoine on prayer posts and the camp benefitted from her Lakota voice language. We were always seeking Native crew members, we’re still figuring out what lessons we learned to better work together as we continue. Decolonizing our nonNative minds is like unraveling a sweater—doing this in a low-level war zone and communicating about it is like re-knitting that sweater as quickly as possible to help as many people as we can.
I am continuing on with Standing Rock Rising and collaborating with others from our crew on the journey to Protect the Earth, amplifying social justice and civil rights in Indian Country and other areas where injustice is happening. The road leads us to the next invitation to lend our skills.