It was an unusually warm evening when our plane landed in D.C. I had a wailing stomach from missing a few meals but the anticipation of what was to come subdued my hunger. We reached the Washington Monument around midnight to find a few water protectors illuminated by the reflection of nearby tipis. The drum set the night-tone with its subdued beat while Grandmother Moon provided a soothing overhead light. My eyes welled with tears and I was overcome by a myriad of emotions for the revelation that in a few hours we would be part of history.
The morning couldn’t come fast enough. I counted the minutes until my eyelids became heavy with too many decimals.
After three hours of sleep, I finally clocked the calendar. March 10, 2017.
The temperature dropped by at least 30 F overnight and rain fell from the somber sky. We were cold and wet despite our rain ponchos, when we got the Army Corps of Engineers. By then, there were thousands of us smiling, cheery and dignified in our conviction. A gathering of all tribes, all colors, all ages representing humanity and Mother Earth. I saw water protectors I met at other NODAPL marches, we embraced and thanked each other for our hearts and our unceasing passion and with that we took over the streets.
The people around me became an integral part of my molecular structure. They were my lungs, they were my spleen, they were my heart, they were everything, they were me and I was them. United by the same through line in our hearts. The weather presented us with a beautiful symphony starting with heavy rain mixed with soft snow flakes. No one seemed to mind. I watched indigenous men with their glowing faces shined by raindrops proudly carrying the tipi poles all the way to the Trump International Hotel. That’s when the rain stopped and the tipi was erected high to the sky. As we continued our march together as one, with all the tribes, Buddhist monks and people from the Institute for the Blind who were finding their way through the beat of the drum, we floated above ground in unison to one beat.
The White House with is sterile gardens and immaculate white walls reverberated the song of the Iroquois from New York. A young man sang his heart out as we joined in a round dance and an eventual couples dance while the stage exploded with the sounds of the Ulali singers. When I heard the women's powerful voice, I rushed to the stage as if called by distant Sirens on the Aegean sea to witness these majestic beings pour their souls onto the people around, while Father Sun poked his head through and beyond the clouds, parting the sky like a hungry lover parts his flower. Taboo from the Back Eyed Peas followed not much later. His dynamic performance and solid message of love and unity silenced the eager a traditionalist in me. And by the time the closing prayer arrived, the snow started to fall again with its thin flakes. I didn't want the day to end. We were with our people, the ones who think the same, who feel the same, whose heart is at the same place, the place where Mother Earth is treated with respect, a place where indigenous rights are respected, where treaties are honored where the strongest reverence for all life forms supersedes greed and self-seeking motives.
By the time we got to the Washington Monument where the tipis were set up, a lot of us had tears in our eyes and as if the drum has never stopped, its beat carried through the wide boulevards and became one with the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Close to 10,000 of us marched together in solidarity and unity that day. The Warriors of Standing Rock started a movement, its momentum omnipresent and I believe that the changes set forth by Jode L. Goudy, Chairman of the Yacama Nation in the so eloquently worded Original Nations' Proclamation could just become reality in our lifetime.
May we continue to stand strong, in unity, and march as long as it takes for the change to happen.