Tag Archives: Native American

Standing Rock

Standing Rock: Learning from Sioux Nation

#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.

Standing Rock camp
Jon Carroll, Soundings videographer at the Standing Rock camp
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.

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Peace Music Nature

Peace Through Music & Nature

Dean Evenson has loved nature from his early days as a bird watcher, an Eagle Scout and camping with his family. His peace music began with flute at 10 years old, so as he grew up, the idea of combining nature and music together became a natural course of his life path. In 1979, Dean was one of the first musicians to combine the sounds of nature with his peaceful music and in the process, he helped birth a whole new genre of relaxation and meditation music.

Another influence on his work has been his contact with Native American wisdom that teaches about nature perceiving the Earth as a living being which provides for our physical sustenance. The indigenous people call her Mother Earth and it is this concept that has caught the attention of Dean and Dudley who have dedicated their lives to bringing awareness to the importance of respecting nature. They see nature, not just as a resource for human development, but as having value in itself, for itself. Humans benefit greatly from healthy, natural ecosystems. When nature is out of balance, human populations are affected, not just the animals and plants. It is in all our best interests to do what we can to protect nature and give back to the Earth.

We hope you enjoy this short video of Dean Evenson discussing his philosophy about nature, music and peace.

“When we can relax ourselves into nature and experience the beauty and complexity of the natural world around us, we began to see how we do fit into this amazing system. We realize our responsibility to care for the life that is around us, knowing that life gives back multifold to an energy that’s given into it. You put a seed in the ground, add water and light, and that one little seed grows into a big plant. Some of the plants even have fruits and vegetables that are shareable as food. The natural world is a support system for all life and especially the human population so that we can evolve into greater things. It gives us immense pleasure to be part this beautiful, living system”
~ Dean Evenson

To these ideas of music and nature, Dean adds the concept of peace – both inner and outer peace. For almost four decades, people have been using Dean’s music to support their meditation and healing process. The gentle tones of flute, joined with nature sounds, create a perfect environment of Peace Through Music. When a person experiences inner peace, they will be a peaceful influence on the world around them. Everyone benefits from one individual living in harmony with themselves and their environment.

Thank you for watching and sharing. When you comment on our blog, we will send you a free mp3 track of our music as a thank you. We send you blessings of Peace Through Music!

Honoring Mother Earth and our Native Communities

We love nature! Ever since we were young, Dean Evenson and I have enjoyed camping, hiking and just being in nature. Dean was an avid bird watcher and even achieved the honor of becoming an Eagle Scout with its associated merit badges. I used to explore the trails in the woods behind my house, imagining the Indians who walked there in a long ago age before cities, suburbs and super highways.

Dudley Dean mt lakeIt seems that time has only increased our love of the natural world and it doesn’t take much to get us out into wilderness areas. Last week, on a warm sunny day, we found ourselves high up on Mt. Baker near our home doing what we love to do – photographing, videotaping and sitting quietly on the mountainside with its vast vistas and sense of peaceful stillness.

It was our early exposure to the philosophy of Native American cultures that inspired us to consider the planet as a living body, our Mother Earth. In 1972, a couple years after the very first Earth Day, we attended the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and met 15 Native Americans who had been sent over by Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog.2 UN Earth SummitsHe had arranged for them to offer their influence on diplomats and environmentalists, to share their wisdom about Mother Earth. Dean and I videotaped them and were profoundly impressed with their powerful message, so different from the others at the conference.

This week, four decades after that first exposure, we were honored to participate in the Indigenous People’s Day celebration at the Lummi Indian Nation, a nearby Native American tribe. 

It was inspiring to see how far our Native brothers and sisters have come back to their traditional ways and how proudly they carry the message of the Earth. This beautiful mother planet that we all share was the initial impetus for the music Dean and I create through our label Soundings of the Planet. Nature was our first inspiration and many of our recordings include the sounds of the natural world. May we learn to care for this Earth, our living home, and find ways to give back to the planet and to the original people and all who struggle here.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments and thoughts. When you comment here I will send you are free mp3 music track!

And please check out these albums and DVDs on sale at soundings.com.
Native Healing
4 Earth CD

4 Earth DVD
2 U.N. Earth Summits: 1972 & 1992

 

Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Mothers Everywhere

Curtis Print Comanche MothersThis picture of Comanche Mothers was taken in 1927 by E. S. Curtis and is an original print that was given to us many years ago in appreciation for our work. It was actually the negative holder for this wonderful image of mothers and their papooses, taken during a time when Native American traditions were still somewhat in tact.  We have much to learn from those traditional ways. All mothers everywhere have the same need – to care for their children.  And for mothers to be able to care for their families, they also need to be well cared for.

In 1972, my husband, Dean Evenson, and I attended as videographers the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden.  I was five months pregnant with our first child but that didn’t stop me from hauling a backpack, tent, sleeping bag and our 35-pound video deck connected by a cable to an eight pound camera.  Of course Dean carried much of the heavy load and we managed to get around the conference, videotape and hitchhike throughout Sweden.

At the conference, we were fortunate to meet the 15 Native Americans who were sent over by Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog.  They were there to speak about Mother Earth and how the planet is a living being and how her human children are destroying her with their consumptive, polluting ways. This was the first time we had heard the phrase ‘Mother Earth’ and we were fascinated.

Over the four decades since then, we have been with and videotaped many Native brothers and sisters who echoed the same plea to save our precious Mother Earth, the only home we have.  The Earth is the source of all our physical beings and we are totally dependent on her for our survival.  Our very being depends on the health and wellbeing of our planet.  This message resonates even more strongly today as we witness the destruction brought on by climate change, extreme weather and carbon emissions from our overuse of fossil fuels.

So during this season of celebrating mother, we ask that you also consider the Earth and honor her sacred being by respecting her and finding ways to ‘give back’ what you have taken.  Consider switching to renewable energy, growing your own food or supporting organic, non-GMO farming and gardening and taking the time to educate your children, your grandchildren, and all those you come in contact with about this very important way of appreciating nature.  Mother Earth, Mother Nature, whatever you call this precious planet, our very lives depend on how we treat the Earth today.

Also for a limited time, I am giving away a free download of our nature music for those who comment on my blog about our music or about how you find ways to ‘give back to the Earth.’ And for those of you who would like to purchase some of Soundings of the Planet’s relaxing, nature-based music, we are having a super sale on all our CDs at only $9 through May 15.  Use this code at checkout to get the discount – MOTHERSDAY15.

Nature and Music: Healing People and the Planet

Published in Natural Awakenings Chattanooga, April 2015

Dean Evenson Native flute riverIn 1970, when sound-healing and video pioneers Dean and Dudley Evenson first became aware of the serious environmental issues threatening our world, they wanted to find a way to help educate people about the plight of the planet. They got that opportunity two years later, when they worked as videographers at the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden.

“In Stockholm we met and were exposed to the wisdom of the fifteen Native Americans who were at the conference talking about Mother Earth,” recalls Dudley Evenson. “We documented this historic event with the new, portable Sony video camera that had just become available, and looked for ways to apply these new ideas.”

The next year, Dean Evenson was invited to Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to help transmit television out of the occupied town. He stayed on the reservation a month, videotaping Lakota elders, activists and medicine men, who spoke strongly about the challenges facing the earth at that time. Again the Evensons contemplated this new information and tried to figure out a way to share what they were learning.

A few years later, now living in Tucson, Arizona, the Evensons decided to form a record label, Soundings of the Planet, to distribute  what Dean describes as “the music that was flowing through us.” He spent the night in a desert canyon, and as the sun rose, he used two stereo mikes to catch the sounds of the birds at dawn. The Evensons’ first album, Desert Dawn Song, included these sounds of dawn in the desert along with the couple’s calming music of flute, harp, cello and vocal tones.
Desert Dawn Song-SP-2223rgb

“This album was one of the very first to include meditative music along with field recordings of nature sounds, and it ushered in a whole new genre of music,” Dudley says. “This was our way of honoring the earth, and our vision was to get this nature-based music to people living in cities who made decisions about the fate of the planet.”

The Evensons have continued to create this special type of music, and over the past 35 years they have released more than 80 albums and videos dedicated to their vision of creating “peace through music.”

Dean has spent many hours next to flowing rivers or ocean beaches, and in wetlands, forests and mountain valleys, recording both audio and video. These “soundings of the planet” have found their way to a number of popular, award-winning albums and DVDs. The added bonus, Dudley says, is that the music seems to have a healing effect on listeners.

“Even though we didn’t start out trying to make healing music, that is exactly what happened,” she says.

The Evensons also added to their recordings the Earth Resonance Frequency (ERF) of 7.83 hz (cycles per second), which is the actual resonance of the planet’s atmospheric cavity, Dean explains. “This is also the same frequency that our brains emit when on the cusp of the alpha and theta brainwave states,” he says. “This tends to have a positive, healing effect on people, adding to the already peaceful state the music and nature sounds create.”

For more information on Dean and Dudley Evenson and their music and videos, visit Soundings.com; search “soundings of the planet” on Facebook or YouTube; visit their blog, HealthyLivingDreams.com; or call 800-93-PEACE (800-937-3223).

PS – I would love to hear how you have used our music.  And to those who comment, I’ll send you a free mp3 download!