We may not have control over everything that happens in our lives, but we can learn about letting go of our reactions to challenges that come up for us. When we experience situations where things don’t happen to our liking, how can we maneuver our lives so we at least maintain peace of mind and peace of heart? What is the important thing to control? Is it to control the physical realities of our existence, or is it to learn how to control our reaction to things that might not be of our choosing? We do our best when we find a balance between both.
When we become incapacitated in any way through illness, accident or the aging process, we may lose some abilities that we have taken for granted in the past. What can we do to avoid feeling upset and depressed about the situation or our suffering? One thing we can do is to actually practice ‘letting go’ ahead of time, before such situations hit us. Practice with the small stuff so when the big issues come up, we already have an ability to let go of our attachments.
Are you a perfectionist? Many of us constantly strive for perfection, but in general, nothing always works out exactly the way we want it to. We can practice letting go of the need for everything to be perfect. In this way, we can learn to let go of the inclination to control our lives in every way. It is quite a process as we learn and grow with these concepts.
Most of us prefer to be with people who are generally content and happy with their lives. We are more attracted to people who aren’t always complaining about what they don’t like, but who are cultivating acceptance and appreciation for life, rather than resisting it. The idea of ‘going with the flow’ can be very helpful. Are we able to accept the way things are or do we resist them mightily? ‘Going with the flow’ is not about accepting things that are unacceptable or accepting abuse without putting up a fight. In those cases, we need to take necessary action to mitigate the issues. When we come to an understanding that our attitude actually affects how things turn out, we are more likely to stay positive and focus on our blessings. Most importantly, we get to choose how we live each day.
Letting Go In 12 Steps
1. Accept life as it is given.
2.Practice accepting the imperfect.
3.Let go of need to control everything.
4.Let go of how you think it should be.
5.Let go of judgments.
7.Learn how to control your reactions.
8.Be here now. Live in the moment.
9.Keep an open mind and a happy heart.
10.Practice radical acceptance.
11.Move toward your dreams.
12.Do the best you can and accept divine timing.
Thanks for visiting our Soundings blog. We would love to hear from you about how you have discovered to let go of the need to control. Remember, when you comment here we will send you a free mp3 of our music.
And do take advantage of our Soundings of the Planet Summer Special. 30% off until August 5. Enter code: SUMMER2017 at checkout. Always a good time to experience Peace Through Music. Blessings to you!
This summer, Deobrat Mishra, 11th generation Indian sitar master, is touring in the Pacific Northwest. Soundings is pleased to sponsor his Sitar Concert Ragas and Kirtan in Bellingham, WA July 8 & 9 and his workshops on July 10 & 11. His sitar concert tour is a benefit for the Benares Music Academy and the Daya Foundation which empowers people through yoga, two very relevant organizations.
Since the very beginning of Soundings of the Planet in 1979, Dudley and Dean Evenson have been privileged to collaborate with outstanding musicians from around the world. Recently, Dean has enjoyed recording and performing with 11th generation Indian sitar masters – Deobrat Mishra and Pt. Shivnath Mishra. Their popular album on the Soundings label, RAGA CYCLE, is a blend of ancient ragas and modern interpretations.
Deobrat Mishra brings his energetic and innovative playing style back to Pacific Northwest. He is one of the most creative and innovative sitar artists in India. He was taught by his father, Pt. Shivnath Mishra, who had him performing on stage when he was five years old. The father-son duo has toured extensively in India, Europe and the Pacific Northwest to sell out crowds and more recently, Deobrat is traveling solo with a tabla player. Dean Evenson will join him on flute in Bellingham.
Sitar Ragas & Kirtan
2 concerts, each with different music. Attend one or both! First half Sitar Ragas, Second half Kirtan singing
Saturday July 8 @ 7:30 pm Firehouse Performing Arts Center.
1314 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA.
Sunday July 9 @ 7:30 pm
The Majestic on N. Forest
1027 N. Forest, Bellingham, WA
Monday July 10 @7:30 pm
Nada Yoga Sound Healing
Turtle Haven Studio
Deming, WA (leave message at 360/738-9368 if interested)
Tuesday July 11 @7:30 pm
Traditional Indian Rhythms & Melodies for Western Instruments
Soundings of the Planet Studio
Fairhaven/Bellingham, WA (leave message at 360/738-9368 if interested)
Deobrat Mishra has received numerous music awards over the years. Selectivity, melody and rhythmic complexity are typical features of his lively playing style. He is Director of the Benares Music Academy on the Ganges whose mission is to keep classical Indian music alive.
The Benares Academy of Indian Classical Music provides musical training and home for students ranging from the community of ‘untouchables’ in India, children of impoverished musicians who can’t afford to pass their traditions along, as well as to international travelers. Students have the opportunity to study music that engages the brain, heart, body, and mind toward integration, optimism, and service. Classical Indian music instruction is offered by scholarships made possible by these events.
DAYA Foundation is a change-agent organization based in Portland, Oregon that empowers students to discover their essential life skills through the yoga. Students are from diverse populations, including those isolated by trauma, incarceration, residential treatment centers, or with mental or physical health challenges. Their prison programs train adults in custody to become yoga instructors for other adults in custody.
We love the dads of today who carry their babies in a backpack or close to their heart. It used to be this practice was only used by mothers but now fathers get to have the blessings of a much closer contact with their young children. As women have become strong and more empowered of late, we acknowledge that fathers have become softer and more gentle. We see this as a wonderful process that allows men to develop the more nurturing side of themselves and that is surely a benefit to them and their children as well. Dean Evenson got to carry his children in a baby backpack and was always around for family dinner practically every day of their lives growing up.
What is the measure of a man?
Is it by the measure of his biceps? Or the amount of love in his heart? Is it how much he can push his way through? Or how gentle he can be in carrying his child? I once heard the definition of a good ‘husbandman‘ (gardener) as one who knows when to plant the seed. I would add that it is equally important to know how to care for the seed so it can grow to fullness and bear the fruits of its harvest.
I am grateful to have found such a man in Dean Evenson who has been such a good husband to me and father to our three children. He has also been the father of Soundings of the Planet and all the musicians who have come through our studio. The burden of a father can be heavy and we need to remember that fathers need all the love and support they can get. So as Father’s Day approaches, let us remember to honor the fathers in our lives and let them feel supported too.
History of Father’s Day
We were intrigued to learn that Father’s Day was first started in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran and a single parent who raised his six children there. In 1909, after she heard a sermon about Mother’s Day being started by Ann Jarvis, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. She initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, but the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons so the celebration of Father’s Day was deferred to the third Sunday of June. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.
We would love to hear about your father or a dad you admire. When you comment we will send you a free mp3 of our music.
In Appreciation of Father’s Day, all recent Soundings of the Planet releases are on sale for $9. Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers out there!
Memorial Day commemorates fallen soldiers but it should also recognize the loss of innocent civilians whose deaths are considered ‘collateral damage’ of war. Sadly, the never-ending war against terrorism seems to yield many such killings. Recently the deaths of 22 young people at a Manchester, England concert has captured the world’s sympathy and attention as did the stabbing of 2 brave men on an Oregon train who tried to stand up to hateful, anti-Muslim bullying. We must also ask why do we not mourn the hundreds of civilians killed in bombings across the Middle East on an almost daily basis?
Our Soundings of the Planet motto is Peace Through Music and we continue to work toward peace and understanding in our world. We realize that fighting violence with violence is an ever-escalating situation that will not yield resolution. What if we respected all lives, especially the lives of our so-called enemies and their families? What if we changed our course and redirected our energies toward healing misunderstandings and finding common ground even when there appears to be none?
These are thoughts we are pondering this Memorial Day weekend. We realize there are no easy answers to these questions. In fact, death from war has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Yet, today in this era of instant worldwide communication, we have a great opportunity to stop fanning the flames of conflict and divisiveness and focus our attention toward understanding and mutual respect. We can’t help but think that putting our energies toward acceptance of people of different races, cultures and religions might at least begin to plant seeds of possibility for a more peaceful world. This can happen right in our own communities, where we live, where we work. When we address the source of conflict, we stimulate a cascade of events that can ultimately have a national and global effect.
A few years ago, we became aware of the cost of war trauma to our own soldiers. We developed some tools to help returning soldiers deal with their PTSD. If you or anyone you know suffers from such trauma, you can download our RELAXATION BASIC TRAINING GUIDE. We hope it helps in a small way people dealing with the negative results of war and trauma. Relaxation Basic Training Manual: http://soundings.com/relaxation-basic-training-manual/
We welcome your thoughts and ideas on this subject. When you comment on our blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 of our music. Also, we hope you will take advantage of our Memorial Day Special. Enter the code: MEMORIAL17 at checkout to receive your discount.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we contemplate the love of mothers everywhere as well as the all-embracing love of Mother Nature herself. In uncertain times like these, it is easy to feel lost or hopeless and make us want to climb into our mother’s lap for solace. But what if our mother isn’t with us any more or there is no human mom to wrap us in her arms and comfort us? Where can we find that support that often only a mother can give? The answer is simple: GO OUTSIDE! Unplug from your technological existence, move away from the pixelated screen and step out into nature. Whether you live on a farm, small town or in a big city, nature is always available to you. In urban areas you may have to search a bit harder but there are large parks, pocket parks, rooftops and other areas where you can take a moment and rejuvenate in the sacred embrace of the natural world.
Equal time for nature! We typically spend most of our days and nights in the warm and dry security of our own home or workplace. We may walk from the house to the car and drive through nature, but most likely, we just watch as the trees flow past our windshield without taking the time to stop and smell the blossoms. So when you feel overwhelmed by the man-made world or bad news, it can be a great benefit to take a break from your busy lives to focus on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature.
Mother Nature ~ she built the mountains, breathed the wind and her tears of joy filled the sea. We too are children of Mother Earth whether we walk, fly, swim or sing.
Researchers found nearby green space was even more important to health in urban environments. In fact, they wrote, “our analyses show that health differences in residents of urban and rural municipalities are to a large extent explained by the amount of green space.”
So dear friends, this Mother’s Day, be sure to treat yourself to spending time in nature and receive the blessings of our ultimate mother – Nature, Earth or whatever you choose to call it. You deserve to be nurtured.
Also, for some peaceful music to support your Mother’s Day experience, all Soundings of the Planet CDs are on sale for $9. Just use the code MOTHER17 at checkout to receive the discount. Peace Through Music blessings to you!
Dudley Evenson co-authors book with Jack Canfield. The Big Secret launch is May 4th. Learn how to achieve the health, wealth, and lifestyle you desire.
As a life coach, I have long been an admirer of Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul author) and the life wisdom he imparts so it is a great honor for me to be included in his new book The Big Secret. Together with other successful entrepreneurs and professionals we share our secrets for how you can achieve the health, wealth, and lifestyle you desire.
I think you will find nuggets of wisdom among all the contributors and so I hope you will help us reach the best seller list by purchasing your copy on launch day May 4th. If you feel inclined to become part of our success, here is the link to buy The Big Secret on amazon.
My chapter is called “The Harmonious Sounds of Success: A Story of Peace Through Music.” It was fun to share some of Dean Evenson’s and my adventures and learning experiences on our way to successfully living our dreams. Jack Canfield offers his own perspectives in how to attain success in life and the other authors have great stories too.
Many thanks for considering being involved in this book launch.
This Earth Day, Dean Evenson and I find ourselves in a small coastal village in Mexico with no roads and no cars. It is truly a magnificent experience to be in an eco village where one has to walk everywhere and carry on our backs anything we want to transport. The bonus is that walking is one of the best forms of exercise we can do. In our modern world, we have grown accustomed to relying on cars, trucks, buses and planes to move us from place to place so it is quite refreshing to rely on our own legs and feet to get us where we want to go. Here food gets purchased, meals get made, children get educated, business happens and most of it without relying on the wheel! The other interesting thing about this little village is that strangers greet each other with a pleasant hello and most everyone is smiling.
When one lives in a somewhat primitive system like this, it becomes clear how everything is interconnected. Here, we take nothing for granted and perhaps that is how we might want to consider life on our very own planet Earth. Where does our food come from? In our globalized economy, it may come from halfway around the world. We finish with something and throw it ‘away’ but where exactly is ‘away’? On this finite planet, there really is no ‘away’ so we need to build a more sustainable support system that does not rely so much on petroleum based transportation to supply us with the basics of life.
This is why we love the idea of permaculture. In such a system, there is no waste and everything that is consumed or used is produced locally as much as possible. Permaculture basically means ‘permanent culture.’ It is a system of social design and agriculture that directly utilizes features and patterns observed in natural ecosystems. This may be an idealistic concept today, but in the not so distant future when we have run out of fossil fuels, we may likely be looking at permaculture as a necessity and not an idealistic luxury.
We hope you will take advantage of the nature-based music Dean Evenson and the Soundings Ensemble have been creating since 1979. And when you comment on our blog, we will send you a free mp3 as a thank you. Peace Through Music blessings.
Through May 1st we are offering a special price of $9 for all albums and DVDs that feature nature sounds. Take advantage of this special now as it won’t last long!
With Millions of Records Sold, Bellingham’s Soundings of the Planet Are New Age’s Old Pros
After surviving the rocky MP3 era, they’ve found even more success in the world of digital streaming.
“A little yellow house sits on a patch of land about 30 minutes outside Bellingham. A few dozen feet away, the frosty Nooksack River rushes by. Thick green splotches of moss run up and down tree trunks, and the air is free from cell service. Residing in that little yellow house are Dean and Dudley Evenson, founders of the wildly successful musical business Soundings of the Planet, whose elongated, pastorally soft melodies, such as “Mending Your Own Mind” and “Gentle Season,” you’ve likely heard on a massage table or in a yoga studio without knowing their origins.
Inside the little yellow house are also instruments—a baby grand piano, a harp, and some drums dangling from an overhang. And often music is playing; soft songs rich with strings move almost effortlessly like wind through leaves. On a flat-screen television videos play: birds landing on branches, a frog kicking its legs in clear water. This is the ambient, naturally focused world that Soundings, and its two founders, manifest.
Soundings Success Story
The business began formally in 1979 when the duo created their record label outside Tucson, AZ, which has since gone on to sell millions of albums—the most famous of which include Chakra Healing, Ocean Dreams and Healing Sanctuary—and enjoy a similarly high number of digital streams. But in another way, the project began in 1968, the day Dean moved into Dudley’s apartment building, taking the flat she’d been using as a low-key, makeshift dance and yoga room.
Dean, master’s in molecular biology from the University of Maine in hand, had come to New York’s East Village to learn a trade in the music business. He was already an accomplished flutist, but now wanted to become an engineer—“the guy behind the board reminding Eric Clapton his guitar is out of tune,” explains Dudley, 73, looking fondly at her husband, 72, whose long white beard is marked by a thick dread down the middle.
The day the two met, their relationship took off. Meeting young in the tumultuous 1960s provided a lot of inspiration for a new couple in search of art and spirituality. At the time, Dean, along with the music trade, found himself studying filmmaking and Dudley studied photography. The two were fascinated with the newly invented portable video camera. Its freedom and populist aspect, Dudley says, provided the couple’s first window into a larger purpose. “We were all about trying to put the tools of media in the hands of the people,” she explains. “We believe everyone has a valid perspective and point of view. We wanted to use the video camera to introduce people to each other.
Dean and Dudley began to travel, video camera in hand, finding gurus, speakers, and eventually Native American elders who shared with them messages about the earth as an actual living being. “That’s when we really woke up,” says Dean. So the two began to explore the concepts of balance, harmony, and nature. This search led them to spiritualist Ram Dass, whose lecture Dean and Dudley later recorded. They began selling cassette copies of this lecture at swap meets and craft fairs around the country, learning an important lesson: Cassettes were much easier to distribute than cumbersome reel-to-reel videotapes. Not long after, Dean began recording Soundings’ first album, Desert Dawn Song. He slept overnight in the desert outside Tucson and recorded “the birds waking up just as I woke up,” he says. “That became the base track. We used it as the inspiration to play the music.
Quickly, the Soundings nature recordings became popular at hippie venues and wellness conferences early in the New Age movement, where the couple mostly sold their work to those interested in massage, yoga, and meditation. “Our motto was peace through music,” Dudley says. “People wanted more and more of it. It helped them relax and deal with stress and chronic pain. A lot of music comes from an ego space, people wanting recognition. But our music comes from an intention of peace.
It should not be forgotten that Dean Evenson—flutist, engineer, and tinkerer—is also a scientist. One aspect of the world he most appreciates is the notion of vibrations, his understanding of which has influenced Soundings recordings. It’s a bit complicated, but the basic idea is that all things can be reduced to vibrations. “Everything has its own signature vibration,” Dean says. Using a scientific principle that bodies can vibrate at the same rate together, Dean composes the basic music for the recordings. The melodies rely on a subdued, even inaudible, quality that relaxes the body’s vibrations and puts it in tune with the low, inaudible hum of nature, otherwise known as the alpha state. “It’s very subtle,” Dean says. “You don’t notice it that much.” In this way, the soft blanket-like music (composed without refrains and utilizing tremolo) carries Soundings’ signature soothing resonance.
In the following decades, the founding parents of Soundings eventually released some 80 albums (the most recent in November), some featuring accompanying musicians (at one point Soundings employed 22 people). They’ve also produced countless videos, which they share on their YouTube page. The business grew in part from their regular touring and performances at the conferences (some alongside Deepak Chopra and Larry Dossey); their family did too with the introduction of three children. They all traveled the country in a bus selling tapes and CDs. Eventually, though, the Evensons landed in the Pacific Northwest, where Dean and Dudley bought a few homes, including the little yellow one.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, Soundings endured the nearly devastating cratering of the music business, when CD sales plummeted after the introduction of MP3s. “There was a lot of tightening of our belts,” Dudley recalls. But in the last seven years that has flipped, thanks to digital streaming. With more and more listeners finding their music online, Soundings has flourished again—almost beyond belief.
“We’re doing very well,” Dudley nods. Many of the streams come from Spotify and Pandora, which offer sizable direct deposits. And an upcoming project, which will likely see the light of day this year, will feature Bellingham resident Tim Alexander, drummer of famed rock band Primus (which Dudley first called “Preemus” before Dean lovingly corrected her). The project is yet another example of the effort the couple continues to put in well into their 70s. Dean and Dudley, who have always dreamed of helping people relax and heal through art, know success comes not only from spiritual inspiration. “You do a dream,” Dudley asserts. “We were ready and willing to do the hard work.”
Hope you enjoyed reading about Soundings Success Story. If you have a chance view the article in the Seattle Weekly and leave a comment, that would be greatly appreciated. The story is actually in the Top 5 Most Read stories this week!
10 Tips for Conserving Water. United Nations World Water Day is March 22.
Yes, I am a stickler for water conservation but this might be going a bit far even in my open-minded book. Actually, ‘Save Water Shower With A Friend’ was a semi-official campaign in New York City when I first arrived there in 1965 after graduation from college. A lingering drought had resulted in a severe water shortage in the northeast. This was one clever way of calling attention to this issue that affected 20 million people in drought-ridden New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The other ‘big’ water saving policy was for restaurants not to automatically give you water at your table. You could request it though.
In retrospect, I wonder if large industrial water users were required to make concessions and cut back on their water use as well. We have since learned of the enormous amounts of fresh water that are used for operations of manufacturing, refineries, nuclear and other energy production and agriculture.
Many years later, I lived in the Arizona desert and again became acutely aware of water limitations. I learned to respect and conserve water through our family’s many unusual living situations. For much of the ‘70s, Dean Evenson and I lived in a converted school bus with our three young children and had no running water. I even gave birth to our second daughter in that bus. A few years later, we ‘settled down’ in a 21 by 21 foot cinder block former garage where we had to carry water in buckets from the pump down the hill. That was for all our water needs – drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. No toilet flushing though as we had an outhouse.
So we have had to get used to living on less water. In fact, I learned that I could actually wash my dishes in the equivalent of two cups of water. Not my preference but sometimes necessary. Once, I even washed my baby’s cloth diapers in a mud puddle on a high Colorado plateau because that was the only water available at the time. But it was better than not washing the diapers at all if you know what I mean.
Did you hear about the monastery where the monks drank their dishwater? Well it wasn’t really as gross as it sounds. Basically, when they were finished eating their rice, they poured some tea in the bowl and swished it around, cleaning the bowl of any leftover rice, and then drank their tea (infused with rice flavor). Maybe they then wiped the bowl with the sleeve of their robe, and presto, their bowl was clean.
10 Tips for Conserving Water
1. Don’t let the water run while you are brushing your teeth. Just use it for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush.
2. Don’t let the water run while you are soaping up your dishes. Rinse them all at once in a dishpan to conserve water.
3. Don’t flush the toilet unless necessary (you know what I mean).
4. Install a low flush toilet to conserve water.
5. When possible, use your grey water (water from washing dishes, clothes, people) to water your garden or plants. Two things happen here: you grow more food and you keep water from taxing your septic or sewage system by cleansing it naturally through the ground and plants.
6. Fix leaky plumbing. Even small drips in sinks, toilets and hoses add up and amount to large waste of water.
7. Develop a comprehensive program for reducing your water usage.
8. Get your neighbors involved and make it a community thing. From the one to the many and then it really can make a difference.
9. Support organizations active in solving world water issues.
10. Check out other water saving lists with lots more ideas for conserving water.
4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond
Speaking of water stories, Dean and I created the DVD ‘4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond’. The video follows the cycle of water among these four eco-systems and shows how they are interconnected. Our aim in creating this beautiful nature video is to inspire people to respect the finite amount of fresh water on the planet and take action to protect it. We invite you to contribute suggestions for solutions to the many issues plaguing water in this era we find ourselves in. It hasn’t always been this way, and it doesn’t need to remain out of balance.
WHEN YOU COMMENT ON OUR BLOG WE’LL SEND YOU A FREE MP3 OF OUR MUSIC.
#waterislife #nodapl #standingwithstandingrock. Have you seen those hash tags about Standing Rock scrolling past your Facebook feed or Twitter feeds? Their story points to Native American water issues and the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Sometimes we get to have personal experiences with big news events and this is one of those times. We want to share a story with you written by our young Soundings videographer, Jon Carroll. We had heard about the grave situation occurring last year and into this year at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota regarding a pipeline being built across tribal lands. The issue became national news, attracting thousands of people from around the country who traveled to Standing Rock to demonstrate their solidarity with the Native people who were to be negatively affected by the pipeline being built.
In our younger years, Dean and I would have been there with video camera in hand to document this historic event. The saga at Standing Rock builds on and expands the legacy of Wounded Knee (1973) which Dean Evenson did videotape. We believe Standing Rock is an important issue that is much larger than just one tribe’s rights. It involves the vision we have for the future of our planet and how we as a society deal with energy while still protecting drinking water. Fortunately we were able to help support Jon to head out to Standing Rock with a carload of people and his own video camera. Here is his story.
My Time at Standing Rock:
Learning from the Sioux Nation
By Jon Carroll, Guest Blogger
A movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) came from a grassroots organizations led by indigenous men and women. Thousands of people from every corner of America, representing every faith, race, and class, heard the call of active citizenship to defend the constitutional rights and treaty rights of the Sioux Nation as an unwavering, peaceful force. Native sovereignty rights, national water security, and renewable energy opportunities are threatened. Meanwhile, if the pipeline is constructed as planned, Sioux Nation Indians would have sacred sites destroyed and drinking water threatened.
In early 2017, under the guise of creating jobs, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to speed up the process of approving Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Unfortunately, as it turns out, by finishing the pipeline’s route under the Missouri River, only 40 permanent jobs would be created while drinking water and tribal rights would be seriously jeopardized.
I heard the same call as those many thousands who wanted to support the tribes so I piled into my grandparents’ old GMC Suburban with five friends and we drove for 24 hours to North Dakota. We arrived into Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota just before sun down on November 12th. The winds were keeping the air crisp and cold even though the sky had been blue all day as we pitched our tents. Then we went up the hill next to camp to view our first North Dakotan sunset. Once atop the hill, we watched the sun fall under the sea of hills that filled the horizon. As the sun sunk to the west, just on the other side of the river to the north, a line of stadium lights flooded our view. There, the line of the pipeline route presented itself to us. It was equally obnoxious to me as it was poignant. Throughout the week, those lights reminded me of my purpose while at camp. All it took was a quick glance up from my camera to see the corporation that loomed over the camp, watching our every move. These lights were, ultimately, one of the many tactics that Energy Transfer Partners used to affect morale at camp. We watched and witnessed these lights to the north, taking one deep breath at a time as we wandered a bit near the hilltop. After a short while, my good friend called for us to get to the top of the hill. In awe of things, I began skipping back to the top of the hill. As we wrapped our arms around each other’s shoulders, we witnessed what he called us up for. To the East, the largest moon I had ever seen was rising. It was beyond our understanding and a most beautiful sight for our first evening at Standing Rock.
As we stared at the rising moon, embracing each other, I pulled a card from my pocket that had been gifted to me by my grandparents before I left. It was a prayer written by a good friend of my grandparents who was for a short time a good friend of mine before his passing in 2000. He was a Lummi Nation spiritual elder by the name of Cha-das-ska-dum Which-ta-lum. The story of the creation of this prayer is a long one, but the shortened version of it is that he wrote it after a journey to San Francisco where he heard a woman recite the prayer of Saint Francis from the opposite side of a tree that he was praying under. He wrote his own version of it on the plane ride back, and that version is what I pulled from my pocket on the hill in North Dakota 1,300 miles from home.
OH GREAT GRANDFATHER!
LET MY HANDS BE AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE.
IF THERE IS HATRED SEND YOUR LOVE.
IF THERE IS INJURY, HEAL.
IF THERE IS DOUBT, SEND FAITH.
IF THERE IS DESPAIR, SEND ON THE WIND HOPE!
IF ONE HAS A QUESTION, THEN THEY ALREADY HAVE THE ANSWER TO KNOW TO EVEN ASK.
TEACH US TO LOVE OURSELVES, SO WE CAN LOVE OTHERS.
WE CANNOT GIVE AWAY WHAT WE DO NOT HAVE!
IF A TEAR FALLS, LET IT NOURISH WHAT IT FALLS ON.
LET THE POWER OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS CALL YOU!
I AM ON THE WIND, RIDE WITH ME, HOLD ON!
WILL YOU LISTEN TO MY WORDS TODAY, OH GREAT GRANDFATHER?
THANK YOU, MY FRIEND.
Upon finishing the prayer, each of us began to weep. Tears of joy, sorrow, grief, celebration, release. Our tears felt more weighted than ever. I knelt and put my hand on the ground below me. I dug my fingers into the soil. I could feel the pain of the earth. I felt extreme sorrow for what the white man had done to this land for so long. This immense guilt fell upon me as I realized I represent, physically, the white men that have persisted to destroy this land. It was difficult to bear this realization. After much wrestling with that concept, I reminded myself of the purpose that I brought with me to Standing Rock. My purpose was to serve, and with my camera, to elevate the voices of indigenous leaders there to a broader audience. I hoped that with attentive ears, a warm smile, and open heart, the people that my embodiment has traditionally oppressed, would see through that and accept my authentic service.
This hope was affirmed over and over again. The days ahead were filled with love and support from every person at camp. The words of those who knew more than me spoke with a forgiving tone and a kind heart. The rest of my time at Standing Rock was spent asking questions and listening.
The next day, we packed up and moved to the Oceti Sakowin Camp where the majority of the people were. As I began walking around, I found that the main initiative through the camp was to winterize the large structures that could keep people warm through the harsh North Dakota winter. The camp was days away from its first chance of snow and once that snow hit, conditions would be much harder to work in. The task was monumental as multiple groups of a dozen or so people tasked themselves with projects around camp. Traditionally, once winter comes, people would find shelter in the long houses, and so those were first on the priority list. Hay bales were stacked, stoves were installed, food was dried, and wood was chopped. All of this was done as a physical act of Prayer and Ceremony.
Truthfully, waking up every day to work with our hands was easy. We knew our work was in service of a cause far greater than ourselves. Hundreds of people woke up to the sounds of the loud speakers and quickly got ready for a long day’s work. With smiles on our faces, we found joy in community tasks even as the bitter-cold wind chipped at our faces.
My main goal while at Standing Rock was to find elders and representatives of the Sioux Nation and hear them talk about their struggle for the recognition of their rights as a sovereign nation. I wanted to share with the rest of the world what it meant to be sovereign and what actions they were taking to pursue justice in the face of threats by big government and corporations. After a few days of meeting people and following leads, I stumbled upon a man by the name of Wasu Duta who is a sovereign Dakota Sioux and government representative of the Sioux Nation of Indians. I was introduced to his cousin, Manape LaMere, just before being invited into his tipi at the base of the Seven Council Fires. Manape is Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Ho-chunk. He is a headsman of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. As a duo, they are tasked with presenting a number of sovereignty rights claims to the United Nations. They sat me down and taught me as much as they could.
With the new president siding very clearly with Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it seems our hope for success is futile. The Army Corps of Engineers has reported that they will be releasing the easement to build under the Missouri River. The pipeline could be completed soon, but, with the hard work of the Sioux Nation holding a peaceful front in direct opposition to the pipeline both legally and physically, we could see this project stalled. This could continue the opportunity for cities and citizens alike to continue to defund DAPL by targeting the banks that are funding the pipeline’s construction. The #DefundDAPL movement is creating waves of change in the pocketbooks of the big banks who are funding the pipeline so we may see this pipeline go bankrupt eventually.
If this pipeline is ultimately completed, the movement is not all lost, nor is it all over. Sovereignty rights are a continuing issue that we must stay attuned to. These pushes take time and effort on the ground by individuals like Wasu Duta and Manape Lamere and they need us to stand with them. That vast numbers of people who have woken up to indigenous issues is the true victory for the Standing Rock movement. The smiles on the faces of the thousands of men and women at Oceti Sakowin camp attest to that. The vast number of individuals marching with solidarity signs in the streets of their hometowns attest to that. The vast number of individuals and cities that have chosen to take their money out of banks that invest in damaging projects attest to that. This is the real success of global movements. This movement does not lose because one pipeline is constructed. This is a battle of minds. In this regard, we have already won. And with the next issue that arises in Indian country, we will stand stronger and know that we are capable of immense power.