Rochester Catholic Workers Sam Huselstein and Ralph Hemmerich have joined hundreds of water protectors resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock, North Dakota. The pipeline would skirt the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, threatening the tribe’s water supply and sacred lands. Sam has sent several updates on the state of affairs as they camp, march, and work in solidarity with the tribe:
Hello from Standing Rock! Ralph and I arrived here Wednesday night. It’s cold and windy but the camp is in good spirits.
Already we’ve been able to help a lot at camp and on the front lines. At camp Ralph has helped set up tipis and winterized communal sleeping areas. We spent the night in the kitchen washing dishes….typical Catholic workers. The indigenous-centered culture of the camp encourages collaboration to make sure everyone is warm and taken care of, especially elders and children.
Today I had the opportunity to get in a non-violent direct action led by women. It was a prayerful action where we marched up to a barricade at the river crossing. We occupied the bridge for 20 minutes in silent prayer. Non-indigenous women led the march as a protective barrier for the women behind us. We were asked to leave initially, however, the police allowed us to finish our ceremony. At the end we thanked the police for not acting violently and left in peace.
This march was organized to honor Red Fawn, who was wrongfully arrested while helping water protectors.
I will be making updates periodically throughout my stay here so stay tuned for more info!
If you would like to help from afar there are multiple camps you can donate money and supplies too. Hopefully I can add a link soon!
Ralph hopped on a bus 11/20 to begin a 2-day ride back to Rochester. He plans to arrive in time to cook the Thanksgiving meal for our guests! Sam remains at Standing Rock.
Another peaceful action today in Bismarck. We tried to say a message in front of the governors home from the sidewalk and the capital building but were told we needed to leave the property, even though we should have been allowed to be there. We walked from the house to the front of the Capitol building and said a quick prayer and left. The police followed us as we walked. They were wearing riot gear and carrying tear gas/pepper spray canisters. The walk was peaceful and prayerful. When we drove off we were followed by police until we were out of town and on our way back to camp.
We are not protesters, we are water protectors. Today’s action was not a protest but an attempt to deliver a peaceful message to the governor.