From February 25th-27th, Deep Green Resistance Great Plains traveled to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in order to take part in the 39th Annual Liberation Day. The purpose was to commemorate and celebrate those who took part in and died in the 1973 takeover as well as those who died in the Wounded Knee Massacre. Members of DGR Great Plains traveled from Iowa City, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA, Cedar Falls, IA, and Omaha, NE, to meet in Jefferson SD the night before. Upon arrival, we bonded, shared a meal, had a meeting, and watched a documentary about the 1973 takeover to give everyone in the group some historical perspective.
We arose bright and early at 6am to begin the long drive west across the state of South Dakota. Along the drive, many of us from the heart of production for the world’s corn and soybeans were taken in by the beauty of the prairie land, golden and swaying in the wind. With over 99% of our prairies gone, it was quite a treat to see. On our first day in Western South Dakota, we took time to take in the natural beauty of the Black Hills. An evergreen tree called the Ponderosa Pine dominates the forests of the hills, making the hills appear black. Later that day we went to Wind Cave National Park, which is as close as we could get to South Dakota’s natural state before the arrival of settler society. For so many of us that spent most of our lives in cities, standing in the presence of a strong force of wind, the endless hills, free roaming bison, antelope, mule deer, elk, prairie dogs and the vastness of the sky was a freeing experience. Being there gave us a new perspective on what we are fighting for, from an abstraction to something tangible and real.
The next day was the pow wow. Before the pow wow we took time in the morning to meet with activists at the Wounded Knee Museum, and we also took time to drop off supplies that we brought with us (blankets, electric blankets, winter clothes and canned food items) for elders whose homes are not built well enough to deal with the South Dakota winters. All of us, especially those at a pow wow for the first time, really enjoyed taking in all of the beautiful costumes, beating drums and singing. To our surprise they called our group down and our Lakota friends and all of us performed a round dance in DGR Great Plains’ honor. We were asked to give a short speech to let everyone in the audience know why DGR Great Plains was in attendance. We let them know that DGR was at Liberation Day to show our solidarity with all indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, and the we would do everything in our power to help keep alive their beautiful culture and language and protect their land from encroachment by settler societies.
The last day was the four directions walk. It was quite a windy day but the weather was no matter. While our group walked a mile, people walked from more than several miles away to this event. To be there that weekend, to participate and fly our banner alongside members of both Native Youth Movement and the American Indian Movement, was quite an honor. This trip was an important first step to building a relationship with the Lakota people, a relationship crucial to successful defense of the land against our common enemy. DGR Great Plains was shown the greatest hospitality by our hosts, and given honor and respect that we still work to deserve. We hope to have the chance to earn it soon.
This adventure was crucial to creating friendship and a feeling of family among our members. Some of us knew each other before the trip and others were meeting for the first time. We did an excellent job of getting along as twelve people all shared one hotel suite. I think we all walked away from this experience having grown closer as a group, and stronger in our resolve to bring down this death machine.
Love and Rage,
The Deep Green Resistance Great Plains Crew