Pipeline Resistance: Landowner Harassment and Field Damage

Yesterday I wrote an introduction to one of the key elements of the Buffalo Rebellion’s work that was discussed during a recent community call via Zoom, i.e. carbon (CO2) pipeline resistance. The call was to build upon this new coalition’s first year of work together, and plans for the future. Resistance to the proposed carbon pipelines has been and will continue to be a focus of the Rebellion.

During the community call I learned about a new report from the Oakland Institute titled The Great Carbon Boondogglewhich focuses on the resistance to Summit’s carbon pipeline here in the Midwest. The Introduction to the report was the subject of yesterday’s blog post: Buffalo Rebellion Community Call: Carbon Pipeline Resistance.

The next part of the report is FALSE PROMISES & HARASSMENT OF LANDOWNERS.

Who owns the land?

Before getting into that, we must continue to raise awareness about who owns the land. There is a long and complex history of ways Indigenous peoples globally were forced to cede (give up power or territory) their lands to settler colonists. There is a growing movement to return lands to native peoples. #LANDBACK

Settler colonialism is a structure that perpetuates the elimination of Indigenous people and cultures to replace them with a settler society.[1][2]  Some, but not all, scholars argue that settler colonialism is inherently genocidal.[3] It may be enacted by a variety of means ranging from violent depopulation of the previous inhabitants to less deadly means such as assimilation or recognition of Indigenous identity within a colonial framework.[4]


For the purposes of discussions related to pipelines now, landowner refers to those with legal title within the colonial framework of this country. The next section of the report is FALSE PROMISES & HARASSMENT OF LANDOWNERS. As that title suggests, there is usually an adversarial relationship between pipeline companies and landowners.

Starting in the summer of 2021, Summit Carbon Solutions began pursuing landowners in Iowa to sign voluntary easements — ceding parts of their land — so it could construct the Midwest Carbon Express. In August, Summit announced it had reached agreements with 1,400 landowners to obtain 2,200 tracts of land across the entire Midwest.[14] In Iowa, while Summit claims to have received easements from 700 landowners for 1,200 parcels of land,[15] it has acquired only an estimated 40 percent of the land needed for the pipeline route in the state.[16] On August 5, 2022, the company announced plans to begin filling for eminent domain against landowners.[17]

Landowners in Iowa, approached by Summit for voluntary easements, allege that the company has resorted to “harassment” tactics.[18] Despite informing Summit they were not interested, the company has failed to respect their decision. “My experience over the last year has been nothing short of a scenario of elder abuse, domestic terrorism, and psychological warfare,” one farmer shared.[19] Another landowner was called at least once a week over a three-month period by land agents, while others have received numerous emails, letters, and unannounced visits by land agents. When turned down, several land agents reportedly threatened that the land would be taken by eminent domain eventually and landowners might as well sign now. One farmer alleged “Good faith negotiations is not what is happening. They are exerting their will on the farmers and landowners. Preying on the elderly and widowed who don’t know any better.” [20]

The Great Carbon Boondoggle

First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March

I first learned about the harassment of landowners during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. One of the people on the March was a landowner and told stories of harassment by the land agents of the Dakota Access pipeline. Harassing her son as he walked home from school. Shining bright lights on her house during the night. We were walking along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline during that March, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa. Each time we walked over the pipeline, we stopped and held hands in a circle. Several people, including the landowner, broke down in tears. It was very emotional.

Emotions evoked as we stood over the Dakota Access Pipeline

The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was a precursor to the Buffalo Rebellion. The intent was for a small group of native and nonnative people to get to know each other as we walked and camped for eight days during that ninety-four mile sacred journey. So we could begin to know and trust each other, which would make it possible for us to work together on issues of common concern. That was very successful, and we have worked together on various things since. A number of us are part of the Buffalo Rebellion now.

In pursuit of voluntary easements, Summit is making promises that farmers believe it cannot fulfill. Many worry that if they sell portions of their land for the pipeline, construction will result in long term damage to their remaining farm. The company acknowledges that the construction will likely impact farming on areas of land adjacent to the pipeline and commits to cover lost crop yields — 100 percent the first year, 80 percent the second and 60 percent the third — and that it will pay to cover any other damages. [24] For farmers, these assurances are insufficient. One farmer with hilly land and particularly erodible soil, who invested lots of time and money in building terraces to retain water
in the soil, shared, “They’re going to be digging these trenches right through our terraces, which will destroy them. And they’re going to have to be redone. And they say they’ll do that…but it took us years to get them the way we want them.” Multiple farmers interviewed shared fears that once soil is dug up to make way for the pipeline, replacing it will not be as simple as Summit claims, given the complex nature of soil structure.

Another potential impact the pipeline may have on farmland concerns damage to drainage tiles, which play a crucial role in moderating the level of water held by the soil. While Summit maintains it will comply with requirements relating to land restoration — including temporary and permanent tile repair — farmers fear that damage to drainage tiles will lead to sinkholes in the soil on other areas of their land. A pervasive lack of trust in Summit to provide the necessary financial resources to repair drainage tile to the standard they require is common among many farmers.

A farmer explained, “My grandfather and my great uncle dug the tile on that farm by hand… And when they come in and say, oh, we’re gonna put this pipeline through here, we’re gonna fix the tile, though, that is not something that happens. You do not cut through tile, and have it fixed to the functionality it was before.” Another farmer remarked: “When you lay tile, the best practice is to never disturb it. And they’re going to, you know, rip the stuff wide open… Summit might say they’ll go the whole nine yards and repair your tile and put your dirt back just perfect. But there’s no way that they can promise that and back it up.”

These fears are informed in part by the damage caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), built through Iowa in 2017. Farmers, whose land DAPL crosses, shared that as a result of heavy machinery and digging, the soil composition has been “forever altered” and that “no amount of money is worth what they did to this ground.” [25] Damage to drainage tiles have also impacted crop yields for farmers, justifying fears raised by the potential impact of the Midwest Carbon Express. These claims are not just anecdotal. Research conducted by Iowa State University found that in the two years following completion of DAPL, yields of corn fell by 15 percent while soybean yields dropped 25 percent on land impacted by pipeline construction. [26] Concerns of lower crop yields, beyond the timeframe Summit will reimburse farmers, remain widespread among landowners.

The Great Carbon Boondoggle

During the First Nation-Famer Climate Unity March we saw the damage from construction of DAPL affecting water drainage from the fields.

Field drainage damaged by Dakota Access pipeline, First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, 2018
Standing water, not draining because of damage from the Dakota Access pipeline construction. First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, 2018


14 Summit Carbon Solutions. “Summit Carbon Solutions Partners with Over 700 Iowa Landowners To Sign More Than 1,200 Voluntary Easements.” Press Release. August 5, 2022.
15 Ibid.
16 Food and Water Watch. “Summit Plans to File For Eminent Domain Against Landowners on 60% of IA Carbon Pipeline Route.” Press Release. August 5, 2022.
17 Ibid.
18 Direct communication with several Iowa farmers, names withheld. August 2022.
19 Direct communication with Iowa farmer, name withheld. August2022.
20 Ibid.
21 Beach, J. “Landowners facing lawsuits over surveyor access for Summit Carbon pipeline in North Dakota, South Dakota.” AgWeek, September 7, 2022. https://www.agweek.com/news/landowners-facing-lawsuits-over-surveyor-access-for-summit-carbon-pipeline-in-north-dakota-south-dakota
22 Ibid.
23 Direct communication with farmers in Iowa. August–October 2022.
24 Summit Carbon Solutions. “Frequently Asked Questions.”
25 “Dakota Access Pipeline: 18 Months Later.” The Gazette, August 17, 2021
26 Brooker, J. “Pipelines keep robbing the land long after the bulldozers leave.” Grist, January 7, 2022.

Publisher: The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). You are free to share, copy, distribute, and transmit this work under the following conditions:
Attribution: You must attribute the work to the Oakland Institute and its authors.
Non-Commercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

This report was authored by Andy Currier, Eve Devillers, and Frédéric Mousseau and draws from the previous Oakland Institute publication: The Midwest Carbon Express: A False Solution to the Climate Crisis.
Special thanks to the landowners and Indigenous community members who shared their experiences. Several remain anonymous to protect their identities

The Great Carbon Boondoggle, Inside the Struggle to Stop Summit’s CO2 Pipeline, The Oakland Institute

Great Plains Action Society and Midwest Quakers

What follows is a history of the development of relationships among people of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) and some Quakers in the Midwest. I’ve had a lifelong concern for our environment and always wanted to learn more about Indigenous peoples and their spiritual and sustainable ways of living. But I hadn’t known how to make that happen. My intention in writing this is to share my recent experiences, and show various ways I’ve found to make such connections, so you might make your own.

Friends are involved with Indigenous peoples in a number of ways in the Midwest. Many members of my Quaker meeting have been involved in the annual Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke celebration at the Kuehn Conservation Area for many years. Other Friends have lobbied legislators. Friends are involved with Friends Peace Team’s program Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples.

The reason for my focus on the Great Plains Action Society is because of the many friends I have there, and the many wonderful things they do. Things I have been led to join in, when appropriate for a white person.

As a Quaker I know that everything is grounded in faith and I believed that was true for Indigenous peoples, too. I was truly blessed when opportunities started to appear about seven years ago that began to teach me about these things. What follows is an account of how I have been led on this journey thus far.

[NOTE: this is not about calling attention to myself. At the end of this post is a statement about humility.]

Fundamentally, relationships can only be made by spending a lot of time together over an extended period. And only when this is something you are led to do. It doesn’t work if you are only doing this out of a sense of obligation and/or not able or willing to spend a lot of time in the endeavor. And White people, such as I, must constantly guard against bringing along an attitude of White superiority. I find it helpful to try to move outside myself, to evaluate the situation I’m in and what I’m doing from a distance. The less we say and the more deeply we listen, the better. You will often feel vulnerable. That’s part of the process, how you grow, and how relationships deepen.

It is urgent now to develop relationships to support each other as environmental devastation will continue to collapse economic, political, and social systems. The only choices will be to return to Indigenous ways or violent tribalism.

Damage to Mother Earth from extreme extractive industries and fossil fuel infrastructure is a focus of much of the work of Indigenous peoples, and of the new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. It is because of these shared concerns that I began to make connections. I was trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013 and have been involved in resistance to the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Coastal Gaslink pipelines. And now against carbon (CO2) pipelines.


The concept of truthsgiving is why I’m writing this extended article. To share the truths that I have been learning. My intention is to show the variety of ways we can become involved, or more involved, in building relationships with native peoples. And to show the reasons why the Mutual Aid work that has been my focus for the past three years is so important.

It is time for Quakers, for everyone to acknowledge the atrocities of the Indian Boarding Schools. Which must begin with truth telling. “The Truth will not be Whitewashed” calls out those, not only many Quakers but most White people who don’t want to face these truths. Locating the remains of thousands of children on the grounds of Indian Boarding Schools in this country and Canada is bringing attention to these atrocities. And opening wounds.

Truthsgiving is a concept of my friend, Sikowis Nobiss, who is the founder of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS). GPAS created the website TRUTHSGIVING. The Truth will not be Whitewashed. The Truthsgiving Collective includes GPAS, Des Moines Mutual Aid, and others.

Truthsgiving is an ideology that must be enacted through truth telling and mutual aid to discourage colonized ideas about the thanksgiving mythology—not a name switch so we can keep doing the same thing. It’s about telling and doing the truth on this day so we can stop dangerous stereotypes and whitewashed history from continuing to harm Indigenous lands and Peoples, as well as Black, Latinx, Asian-American and all oppressed folks on Turtle Island. 


Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid comes up frequently in these stories because this is the framework to escape the colonial capitalist system that is oppressing all of us now. Mutual Aid communities exist all over. You can search for “mutual aid” on the Internet and social media platforms. The website Iowa Mutual Aid Network is an excellent resource. https://iowamutualaid.org/

You can read much more about my mutual aid story here: Mutual Aid in the Midwest

Dean Spade has written an excellent book, Mutual Aid, Building Solidarity During This Crisis (And the Next).

Mutual Aid is important because it provides an alternative to the capitalism and white superiority that mainstream society is built upon. Mutual aid can help us Walk a Path of Doing the Truth as my friend Ronnie James wrote in “Doing Truth When the World is Upside Down.”

Mutual Aid is important because it truly builds community. These are troubled times with many people in despair, feeling hopeless. Mutual Aid communities help people help each other and restore a sense of self-worth. Opportunities to make a difference.

I’ve often written about my first meeting with Ronnie James as being Spirit led. February 2020, I posted an event to support the Wet’suwet’en peoples who were trying to stop a pipeline from being built through their territory. I didn’t expect anyone to attend who wasn’t already involved in this issue. Thank God, literally, Ronnie James, an Indigenous organizer, saw the event and joined us. He was surprised anyone beyond those he knew was aware of the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en. That meeting changed my life. It makes me sad to think I would have missed everything that came from this meeting if it had not occurred.

Queries about Mutual Aid

  • How are we working to deal with existing chaos and preparing for further collapse?
  • Do we provide for everyone’?
  • What is our relationship with Mother Earth? Do we honor and conserve the resources we use?
  • What systems of dominance, of vertical hierarchies are we involved in?
  • Do we work to ensure there aren’t vertical hierarchies in our communities, in our relationships with all our relatives?
  • Do we have the courage to follow what the Spirit is saying to us? To not force those messages to conform to our existing beliefs and practices.
  • How do we connect with communities beyond our Quaker meetings? What are we learning about spiritual connections beyond our meetinghouses? Are we sharing these spiritual lessons with others?

Some of my writing about Mutual Aid: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/mutual-aid/

And my mutual aid booklet here: Mutual Aid in the Midwest

You can read much more about my mutual aid story here:
Mutual Aid in the Midwest

 There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Building Relationships

What follows are some of my stories about how such relationships developed. It takes time to build these relationships, which is why it is important to begin now.


I begin with some general guidelines that I, as a White person, have learned about making connections with communities of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC).

This graphic summarizes some of what I have learned from my own experience. I learned much of this during the years I spent in the Kheprw Institute youth mentoring community in Indianapolis. A community of people of color. And these guidelines have been very helpful in the context of the last five years as I was led to connect with my Indigenous friends.

I also learned a great deal from participation in the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Quaker Social Change Ministry program and recommend it. https://www.afsc.org/quakersocialchange

Don’t be a burden

From that initial meeting, Ronnie and I began to exchange text messages. Related to “don’t be a burden”, text messaging is far less intrusive than phone conversations, for example.

Do NOT ask or expect to be taught

This can be one of those gray areas. There is a difference between expecting to be taught and accepting what someone is offering to teach you. Ronnie was/is very generous with his time and encouragement. He is what I would call a very effective organizer. He recognized our Wet’suwet’en vigil would be a chance to find allies for the work he does. Since then, I’ve seen how often, and how well he writes to educate others. And he always shows up. In the nearly three years I’ve known him, he and I have rarely missed being at our weekly food giveaway. And those times when he isn’t there, it is often because of other things related to his activism. He is involved in many things besides our food project.

Listen deeply-this is how you learn

Think about what is being said. Learn the language, so to speak. Pay attention to body language and facial expressions. This is hard when people are wearing face masks, which are always required at our food project. No face mask, no participation. This is done to reduce the chance of any of us passing the virus on to others.

Observe common tasks and help do them. For example, every Saturday morning tables need to be set up outside, where the food boxes will be put for distribution. So do that if there is idle time. You don’t need to ask for permission. It is expected that you will use your own initiative. Because of everyone being aware of what needs to be done, and doing it, our work is done really efficiently. As Ronnie says, at the end of the hour you will be tired, sweaty and felling good. And that’s true.

Do NOT offer suggestions/leadership until invited to do so

It can take a long time (months) to understand all that is involved in the work you are participating in. It has taken a lot of work, trial and error, for those involved in the community you are connecting with to get things to function well.

The rest of the list is self-explanatory. Accepting being vulnerable is likely the most difficult part of this. You are being vulnerable just by doing what it takes to join in the work, to show up. When uncomfortable things happen, they are often not your fault. Try not to take things personally.

Great Plains Action Society and Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)

A number of Friends (Quakers) in the Midwest have had opportunities to work with the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) and the people who are part of that organization. My first connection was being present at a panel discussion at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) about building bridges with Native Americans in 2017. Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss, Donnielle Wanatee and Peter Clay were on the panel. (See: Iowa Panel Looks at Building Bridges with Native Americans | American Friends Service Committee)

Great Plains Action Society (GPAS)

Sikowis was involved in Indigenous Iowa, and Seeding Sovereignty, then moved on to establish the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS). My friends Ronnie James, Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer, Mahmud Fitil, Regina Tsosie, Foxy and Alton Onefeather, and Jessica Engelking are among the people of GPAS.

I only mention that I took this photo as an example of building relationships. With time, people learn what you have to offer. During the Buffalo Rebellion Climate Conference we were all attending, there was a spontaneous opportunity for a group photo of GPAS. I was glad to be asked to take the photo.

Great Plains Action Society (5).png
photo: Jeff Kisling


Resist and Indigenize

GPAS started to build in 2014 and became an official non-profit in 2017 with two full-time staff, two part-time staff, and two youth interns. Founder, Sikowis Nobiss, who started organizing over twenty-five years ago during the Burnt Church Indigenous fisheries crisis in New Brunswick, Canada, saw that Iowa needed more Indigenous voices to speak up for the Earth. During the NoDAPL resistance movement in 2016, she created a platform for Great Plains Action Society to empower Indigenous voices in Iowa concerning extreme resource extraction perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry. During this fight, GPAS worked tirelessly in both Iowa and North Dakota, bridging the gap between Indigenous communities and rural landowners. This led GPAS to form Little Creek Camp, an Indigenous-led resistance hub in Iowa and to finally register as a 501(c)4 that is 100% Indigenous run. Our efforts have truly brought the voice and actions of Indigenous Peoples to the forefront of Iowa’s climate movement, which is much needed in the most biologically colonized state in the country and the number one contributor to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico due to colonial-capitalist farming practices. By uplifting traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge, we are making it clear that Iowa needs to rematriate prairie, bring back first foods and increase Indigenous land stewardship. 

Great Plains Action Society’s Vision

“We are a collective of Indigenous organizers of the Great Plains working to resist and Indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. Our homelands are located in the vast grassland of Turtle Island, situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River and stretching from the Northern Tundra to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Great Plains Action Society Mission Statement

Great Plains Action Society addresses the trauma Indigenous Peoples and our Earth have faced and works to prevent further colonial-capitalist violence through education, direct action, cultural revival, mutual aid, and political change.

Gatherings and actions

What follows is a history of my experiences with my Indigenous friends. Although each episode is with at least one person who is part of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), many are not official GPAS actions or events.

US Bank, Super Bowl weekend, 2/3/2018

February 3, 2018, Super Bowl weekend, Ed Fallon organized a van trip to Minneapolis to call attention to USBank’s funding of fossil fuel projects. USBank’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and the game was played at the USBank stadium. Sikowis, Donnielle, Trisha and I were among those who attended.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives MMIR

One lesson I learned from the trip to Minneapolis was to be aware of the interrelationships among justice issues. The epidemic of the kidnapping and murder of Indigenous women, men and children is something I had not known about prior to getting to know native people. But this happens to a shocking number of people. I heard a story about a family member from a new friend on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March.

This is yet another consequence of building pipelines. Many are built near native lands–another example of environmental racism. The “man camps” of pipeline construction workers are thus found near native lands. Adding to the problem was that native law enforcement could not arrest nonnative people. Recent Federal legislation that several of us lobbied for has changed that.

When in Minneapolis, Sikowis Nobiss and Donnielle Wanatee both spoke about MMIR. During the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Foxy Onefeather carried this sign.

Foxy Onefeather on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March

This spring, MMIR was part of a GPAS rally for reproductive justice.

This sign was erected at the event, with the Wells Fargo Arena in the background. Wells Fargo is one of the banks that fund pipelines.

First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Sept 1-8, 2018

September 1 – 8, 2018, Sikowis, Donnielle, Trisha, Mahmud, Regina, Peter Clay (Iowa Quaker) and I and others participated in the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. We walked and camped together from Des Moines to Fort Dodge (ninety-four miles) along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Some Iowa Quakers had worship sharing each morning of the March to support us. Also, each evening there was a discussion on various topics. My friend and Scattergood Friends School schoolmate and member of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), Lee Tesdell, talked about his progressive agricultural practices. Sikowis had something to say about Indigenous agriculture.

Lee Tesdell speaks during First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, 2018

The purpose of the March was to create a community of native and non-native people who began to know and trust each other so we could work on things of common concern. That was really successful, and we have done many things together since.

First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March website

Lobbying Senator Grassley, December 2018

One of the first was when several of us from the March, including Sikowis (in the center of this photo), Iowa Quakers Shazi and Fox Knight, and I lobbied Senator Grassley’s staff to support several bills related to native concerns.

Sunrise, Green New Deal, Des Moines, 2019

The Sunrise Movement was launched as a national campaign for a Green New Deal (GND) in 2017. From the beginning I heard my native friends talk about the importance of a GND to be Indigenous led. In 2019 Sunrise’s Green New Deal tour began with a stop in Des Moines. There my friends Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt spoke about Indigenous leadership as a requirement for a GND.

Trisha, Lakasha and I at Sunrise Green New Deal Tour, Des Moines, 2019

National Network Assembly, summer 2019

The summer of 2019 Sikowis suggested I attend the National Network Assembly at the Des Moines YMCA Camp near Boone, Iowa, that she helped organize. I was aware that if I wanted to build on relationships with native peoples, I should respond when invited to do something like this. I don’t usually attend conferences, but seeing this as one of those opportunities, I did attend. And I got a lot out of it. This was a conference for justice organizers.

Climate Crisis Parade in Des Moines, Feb 1, 2020

Many of us participated in the Climate Crisis Parade in Des Moines, Feb 1, 2020.

Wet’suwet’en Vigil, Feb 7, 2020, Des Moines

As I began to discuss above, in early 2020, I began to hear about the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia, as they worked to prevent the construction of a liquid natural gas pipeline (Costal GasLink) through their pristine lands and waters. There was little being written about this in the mainstream media, so supporters were asked to write about what was happening on our social media platforms.

This photo is from a post about a rally I organized to support the Wet’suwet’en in Des Moines on February 7, 2020. Iowa Friend Peter Clay attended.

As I wrote earlier, I’m sure my meeting with Ronnie James was spirit-led. We’ve become good friends in the three years since this Wet’Suwet’en rally. Ronnie is one of the people involved in GPAS, the person who leads the Mutual Aid efforts.

We are both at the food project almost every Saturday morning. Although it doesn’t take much space here, DMMA is the focus of my justice work. And I have found it to be healing. At the end of this is A Love Letter to Y’all about the work of DMMA.

This is a link to a booklet I wrote about the Wet’suwet’en.
Wet’suwet’en and LANDBACK

Indigenous People’s Days (annual)

As often happens, once people know I love photography, I get invited to events for that purpose (even though I’d want to go, anyway). This photo of Sikowis was taken at last year’s Indigenous People’s Day. She’s holding a Great Plains Action Society bag.

“Fourth of He Lies” (annual)

Another event where I took photos was a gathering on the State Capitol grounds related to racist statues. On July 4th, 2020 and 2021 we gathered for the “Fourth of He Lies”. In this photo on one of those days, Sikowis is speaking at the Pioneer statue. Ronnie James and Donnielle Wanatee also attended.

December 2021 Summit Carbon pipeline

Last December, Sikowis asked me to come to Ames to take photos of a rally at the office of Summit Carbon, one of the companies that want to build a CO2 pipeline.

Buffalo Rebellion

I’m blessed to have been invited to join the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion, a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. Peter Clay, my friend and also a member of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) was also invited.

Buffalo Rebellion is a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. The Earth Day Rally will be an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through sharing stories and visions for climate justice and taking action together for a world that puts people and the planet before profits for a few.

Following the Earth Day Rally, Buffalo Rebellion will be holding two days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement.

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI.

Buffalo Rebellion

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI)

Iowa Citizens for Community improvement is very active in environmental and many other concerns and a member of the Buffalo Rebellion. “We talk, we act, we get it done” is their motto. I’ve participated in several environment related actions led by my friend Jake Grobe, ICCI’s Climate Justice Organizer. He has focused on getting MidAmerican Energy to close their five coal burning plants in Iowa. And Jake is very active in the resistance to carbon (CO2) pipelines.

This is a photo I took of Sikowis and Jake at this summer’s Earth Day Rally in Des Moines. After the speakers we marched to the offices of MidAmerican Energy.

In an example of interconnections, the mural below is by GPAS and made during the First Nation Farmer-Climate Unity March in 2018. In another connection, Jake often comes to our Mutual Aid food project.

Sikowis Nobiss and Jake Grobe at Earth Day Rally 2022

The Buffalo Rebellion coalition in action

The resistance to carbon pipelines continues. This flyer and the photo I took below are about an action by the Buffalo Rebellion at the time a national meeting of those promoting carbon pipelines was occurring in Des Moines. In the photo Jake is speaking using a bullhorn, in the street that we blocked temporarily to call attention to the pipeline meeting. He said these people (in the cars) are impatient and angry, but we’re angry and inpatient, too, at the decades of inaction to respond to climate devastation.

Jake Grobe (ICCI) speaks against carbon pipelines in Des Moines, Nov 2022

Forced Assimilation/Indian Boarding Schools and Quakers

One of the tensions between Indigenous peoples and Quakers is the tragic history of forced assimilation of over 100,000 native children in the Indian residential schools. And the deaths and abuses that occurred there. Some Friends were involved in such schools. Several times I was led to speak about this with Sikowis, Ronnie and other Indigenous friends. We could not develop much of a relationship if this went unacknowledged. It is important to not do this until you have a relationship with who you talk to about this.

This became personal when one of my friends introduced me to his teenage son. I could not imagine the conversations they must have had about forced assimilation. Continue to have as the remains of thousands of children are located on the grounds of so many of the sites of forced assimilation.

Last year I was clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee. The committee had a small budget to support organizations doing justice work. Last year we were led to a choice of rather than giving token amounts to a number of organizations, to instead see if an opportunity arose to give the entire budget to make an impact on the work that presented itself. I believe because of our discussions about the residential schools, Sikowis asked if Quakers could support showings of the film “They Found Us” that had been made about the residential school of her nation, the George Gordon First Nation. Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee gladly agreed to donate our budget to this. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/04/13/they-found-us/

Orange Shirt Day is Canada’s Day of Truth and Reconcilliation–a time of mourning and remembrance.

Great Plains Action Society has felt this pain firsthand, as many of our close family members attended these schools, and we are rising to meet the needs of our communities. Last year, in Sioux City, we hosted a large community feast and ceremony to honor nine children whose bodies were reMatriated back to Sicangu Oyate lands from the grounds of the Carlisle Boarding School. We have also raised funds to help one of our relatives, Curt Young, show his film, They Found Us, about the search for children’s bodies at the George Gordon First Nation. If we can raise enough funding, we would like to get his film shown throughout Iowa and the Midwest.

Your Invitation to be an Ally

A fundamental principle of justice work is to make sure that your (i.e. ally) work is directed by those impacted by injustice. “Nothing about us without us.” Great Plains Action Society’s Open Letter Campaign is such an opportunity, an invitation for non native peoples to support their work.

Resolutions are not just for January! As we are gathering momentum for the daunting work 2022 has in store for us, we would like to invite you to join us in ushering in a New Year/New Iowa. Things need to change. The harm we are doing to the environment is devastating. The attack on truth in public education is a contributing factor to our attempted erasure. The ongoing use of racist mascots harms children, and perpetuates dehumanization. Iowa has a lot of issues. The work we need to do to make Iowa better is not going to be easy. But it can be done, and the best chance we have is working together. And that is why we are coming to you with our Open Letter Campaign.

Over the course of 2022, we will be sharing with you Open Letters we’re addressing to those who are in positions of power. We’re doing this in the format of an Open Letter for a few reasons. First, these issues are important, and this is an opportunity to explain the issues to a broader audience. The more people who understand what is going on, the better. Second, we need numbers. We are mighty, but we are few. The more people we have putting pressure on those with power, the more likely we are to see results. And finally, it’s something that you can do that doesn’t require much of you. Although it’s only February, 2022 can already feel exhausting. The thought of having to leave home to do things can be overwhelming, even frightening as COVID is still a very real threat. But this is something you can do from home, without investing energy you are probably running low on. Working with us can be as simple as tweeting out a hashtag. But it can be more too, if you’d like. It’s an opportunity to write the words that express your frustration and join them in an agitated choir. This is a chance to remind yourself that you deserve to be heard and that you are capable of taking action that affects change.​

We have always appreciated when allies and accomplices approach us to ask how they can be of help. Things can be complicated, and it is considerate to be mindful of how one engages. This is absolutely a situation that we request your help with. We need your voices to make something happen. Our land, our water, our children are under attack. The truth is under attack. We need to stand strong together to create the change that so desperately needs to happen. This Open Letter Campaign is a means for us to unite our voices to call for change. You are welcome to use the words we share, or to express your own. If all you have it in you to do is share an article or use a hashtag, every little bit helps. If you have letters of your own you’d wish to share with us, we’d love to hear from you! Again, we look forward to putting our voices together with you, to call for the New Year/New Iowa we so desperately need. Thank you.

The New year, New Iowa Open Letter Campaign is led by Jessica Engelking. If you have ideas or thoughts to share, please contact her at jengelking@greatplainsaction.org 

We look forward to putting our voices together with you, to call for the New Year/New Iowa we so desperately need. Thank you.


There are three Open Letters I’ve been involved with.

1. An Open Letter to the Sports Page

One is the Letter to Sports Page, a restaurant in Indianola that native images on their walls. This is the story I wrote about this. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/02/09/open-letter-to-sports-page/

2. Letter to Indianola School Board

Ronnie James once lived in Indianola. He wrote about his experiences with the Indianola School board when he asked them to stop using native imagery for their sports teams. Knowing I am a photographer and live in Indianola, he asked me to take some photos of that imagery, which I was glad to do. 

3. Truth and Healing with Friends

Jessica Engelking of the Great Plains Action Society is the contact person for the Open Letters campaign. Fortunately, I met Jessica when we both attended the Buffalo Rebellion Climate Justice Summit this summer. A lot of networking occurred at the summit.

When she asked what Quakers were doing related to the Indian Boarding Schools, I was very glad to share the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s letter writing tools. And specifically, to the one to support the establishment of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools. This became one of the Open Letters of the GPAS.

Support the Establishment of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools: Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

As children are returning to school, we are reminded that school has not always been a safe place for Native children. For many years, Native children were taken from their homes and placed in government and religious run institutions with the aim of stripping away their Native language, culture, and identity. We are only now beginning the painful process of bringing home the children left in unmarked graves at the boarding schools they were sent to (U.S. report identifies burial sites linked to boarding schools for Native Americans). We are still working on healing the damage of boarding school and intergenerational trauma (American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many : NPR). Healing from the damage caused by the boarding school system will require effort by not just those harmed, but the institutions that did the harming. There is great work being done by our comrades at the Friends Committee On National Legislation (Native Americans | Friends Committee On National Legislation). For this edition of our Open Letter Campaign, we are directing you to a letter from our friends at FCNL to help you in urging your representatives to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

The following is courtesy our much appreciated Quaker friends



As another way to encourage the passage of this legislation, David and Jean Hansen of Ames Meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and my friend activist Rodger Routh, and I went to the Des Moines office of US Senator Joni Ernst. Jessica Engelking of the GPAS had planned to attend but was unable to do so.

Lobbying US Senator Ernst to support legislation to create a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools

The Great Plains Action Society recently published their Theory of Change.

MUTUAL AID is one of the METHODS.

Great Plains Action Society addresses the trauma Indigenous Peoples and our Earth have faced and works to prevent further colonial-capitalist violence through education, direct action, cultural revival, mutual aid, and political change. We believe that Indigenous ideologies and practices are the antitheses of colonial capitalism, and we deploy these tools to fight and build on our vision–tools that are deeply embedded in a culture of resistance. 

Indigenous Peoples in the US and around the world have created a culture of resistance, built on the frontlines, that is now a way of life. It can be found in our dancing, singing, clothing, art, and in our political motivations. For instance, the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) song was created out of the Red Power Movement and is sung at many of our cultural events and in our movement spaces, which are often one and the same. It began with the need to protect our homes and way of life from settler invaders, colonial militias, and imperialist governments. There is over a 500-year history of Indigenous resistance to the violent nature of colonial-capitalist genocidal and extractive practices. As stewards of the land, our ancestors saw right away that settler invaders, who were directly harming us, were also harming the environment and throwing the ecosystem off balance. The resistance is ongoing as long as genocide and colonization are perpetuated by the nation-state and its settler citizens. To be in a constant state of resistance is traumatic, hence why we suffer from intergenerational and historical trauma. Yet, it is necessary to protect our land, our people, and our ways from colonial-capitalist forces.

Great Plains Action Society’s Theory of Change, Sikowis Nobiss

I’ve been working on this graphic for several years, to visualize the connections I see. Mutual Aid and the Buffalo Rebellion are part of this.

A Love Letter to Y’all (a thread)

One year ago yesterday Des Moines Mutual Aid participated in a march protesting the potential for war or increased hostilities with Iran that followed the fallout of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by drone strike in Baghdad.

This was our first “public” event since adopting the name Des Moines Mutual Aid, a name we gave our crew during our growing work with our relatives at the houseless camps throughout the city and our help with coordinating a weekly free grocery store that has a 50 year history, founded by the Des Moines Chapter of The Black Panther Party For Self Defense.

A year ago we started laying the foundation for work we had no idea what was coming.

As we were adjusting our work with the camps and grocery re-distribution in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, both that continued to grow in need and importance, the police continued their jobs and legacy of brutality and murder.

This nation exploded in righteous rage in response to the pig murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

DMMA realized we were in a position to organize a bail fund to keep our fighters out of jail, both to keep the streets alive as a new phase of The Movement was being born, and because jails are a hotspot of Covid-19 spread.

Not to mention the racial and economic oppression that is the cash bail system.

In the past year DMMA has expanded it’s work in multiple directions and gained many partners and allies.

We partnered with the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement (@DesMoinesBLM) to create the DSM BLM Rent Relief initiative to help keep families in their homes in the midst of a pandemic and the winter.

The camp work has grown exponentially, but is being managed with our collaboration with Edna Griffin Mutual Aid (@egma_dsm), DSM Black Liberation Movement (@DesMoinesBLM), and The Great Plains Action Society (@PlainsAction).

The bail fund remains successful because of desire from the public and a partnership with Prairielands Freedom Fund (@prairielandsff) (formerly The Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project).

The weekly free food store has maintained itself, carrying on the legacy it inherited.

Every one of our accomplishments are directly tied to the support of so many people donating time, talent, and funds to the work. We are overwhelmed with all of your support and hope you feel we are honoring what we promised.

All of these Mutual Aid projects are just a few of many that this city has created in the last year in response to the many crises we face, not only confronting the problems and fulfilling the needs directly in front of us, but creating a sustainable movement that will be capable of responding to what’s next and shaping our collective futures as we replace the systems that fail us.

These last 12 months have been wild and a real test of all of our capabilities to collectively organize.

But it is clear that we as a city have what it takes to do what is needed in 2021, no matter what crisis is next.

Much gratitude to you all.

In love and rage,
Des Moines Mutual Aid

Originally tweeted by Des Moines Mutual Aid (@dsm_mutual_aid) on January 6, 2021.

We need to be careful when we talk about humility. The kind of humility this work brings isn’t the kind that would have us reject or repress our gifts. This kind of false humility leads us to oppress each other in the name of preventing pridefulness. This happens far too often. Real, life-giving humility means living up to the light that we have been given without judgment of how bright or dim that light is. False humility is hiding this light under a bushel for fear of jealousy or judgment. The challenge is to be faithful right where we are—no more, no less. This takes courage. To be faithful, we have to make space.

Prophets, Midwives, and Thieves: Reclaiming the Ministry of the Whole by Noah Baker Merrill


You can read much more about my mutual aid story here:
Mutual Aid in the Midwest

This is a link to a booklet I wrote about the Wet’suwet’en:
Wet’suwet’en and LANDBACK

First Nation Famer Climate Unity March website:
First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March

Great Plains Action Society

Web – greatplainsaction.org

FB – @GreatPlainsActionSociety

IG – @greatplainsactionsociety

Tw – @PlainsAction

Des Moines Mutual Aid

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DesMoinesMutualAid/

Iowa Mutual Aid Network – https://iowamutualaid.org/


Buffalo Rebellion

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion/


Home – https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/

Mutual Aid – https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/mutual-aid/

Buffalo Rebellion – https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/buffalo-rebellion/

Abolition – https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/abolition/

Forced Assimilation – https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/forced-assimilation/

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

FCNL – https://www.fcnl.org/

Native Americans – https://www.fcnl.org/issues/native-americans

Spiritual connections for survival

For many years I’ve been praying, thinking, writing, and discussing how we can prepare for an increasingly dystopian future. In an article in Friends Journal, Donald McCormick asks “why is there no vision for the future of Quakerism?”  I wrote about my vision in the article What is your vision for the future?

The increasing threats from environmental devastation and chaos lead me to share more of my vision, which has been evolving over the past several years. It’s taken me a long time to write this article, I think because I haven’t found resources available to check on what I’m saying here.

I’ve always believed the greatest problem to solve is how communities of the future organize and govern themselves. We’ll have to do things differently because our present systems are collapsing. Which is often not a bad thing since those systems are based on colonialism and capitalism.


Spirituality is especially important now as we experience increasing environmental chaos, which will contribute to further social, economic, and political collapse. We will have no choice but to band together for the survival of us all. The alternative is tribalism with its violence, destruction and death.

We will need the help of those who know survival skills that we don’t. It takes time to build the trust necessary for these connections. It is urgent to do this now. It is by the Spirit that we can engage with everyone around us, of all cultures, identities, ethnicities.

  • Spirituality can show us how to live with integrity now. How to be examples to others. This is how change happens.
  • The Creator can help us heal the wounds of the past. And the wounds that will be inflicted in the future.
  • The Spirit can guide us through the coming chaos.
  • It is by the Spirit we create connections among diverse peoples.

Kheprw Institute (KI)

One set of my spiritual experiences relates to my introduction to a community of people of color, the Kheprw Institute (KI). I wrote about this in detail at: https://jeffkisling.com/2021/03/14/white-quakers-and-spiritual-connections-with-the-kheprw-institute/

At my first meeting with the KI community, I was asked a number of questions. When I said I was a Quaker, one of the adults (the group was mainly teenagers) spoke about the history of Quakers related to the underground railroad. When she finished, all eyes turned to me. I said I was glad my ancestors did that, it was the right thing to do, but we try not to take credit for things we have not done ourselves. When I was asked to speak more about that, I wasn’t sure what to say. I remember clearly that an answer came from the Spirit, which told me to not only say that Quakers believe there is that of God in everyone, but to also look into the eyes of each one there and say, “and that includes you”. Each person smiled at me when I did that. That ended the questioning, and I was welcomed into the community. We had this spiritual basis for our work together.

But that was just the first step. Trust was built, but slowly. With permission, I invited members of my Quaker community to engage with KI’s monthly book discussions. This was one way we began to get to know each other. But it was two years after this introduction before I was invited to teach a class on photography for KI.

Kheprw Institute, Indianapolis

First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March

Because of my lifelong commitment to care for our environment, I’d always wanted to learn about Indigenous peoples and their sustainable lives. I jumped at the opportunity to do so when I heard about the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018. The intention was to build a community of native and nonnative people by walking and camping together along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa (94 miles). Many long hours walking together, for eight days, along empty Iowa gravel roads was very effective in creating the beginnings of trust. There were about fifteen native and fifteen nonnative people, which allowed each of us the opportunity to share stories with every other person.

I’d hoped there would be ways to learn more about their spirituality, and to share some about my own. But I knew there was a huge barrier between us related to Friends’ involvement in the institutions of forced assimilation of native children. It is uncomfortable to admit this, but at the time I wondered how much awareness there was about the Indian Boarding Schools. I was soon to learn how profound that trauma was, and how it was passed from generation to generation. Is a deep wound today in every Indigenous person I know. I discuss this in detail in White Quakers and Native Peoples and other writings.

I didn’t know if, or how, the occasion might occur to talk about this during the March. Or whether I should.

But I vividly remember when the Spirit told me to say, “I know Quakers were involved in the Indian boarding schools and I’m sorry that happened” to the native person I was getting to know the best early in the March. I was worried saying that would upset him, open wounds. But he just nodded his head, and we kept walking together. But later in the day he said, “I want to tell you a story”, and proceeded to tell me a story related to him and his mother and the boarding schools.

At various times the Spirit led me to bring this up with each of my native friends. Every one of them and their families have had traumatic experiences related to forced assimilation. And the removal of native children from their homes continues in the guise of child welfare.

This is something that should not be taken lightly. A certain level of connection and trust is important. This is not about us (White people) and what we would like to see or do. There should be clear spiritual guidance.

I’ve found my Indigenous friends to be deeply spiritual. I like the sign, Earth is my church, carried by my friends Foxy and Alton Onefeather during the March. That says a lot about why I feel my friends are spiritual, their reverence of all things human and nonhuman. And their practices such as smudging, putting down tobacco, expressing thanks to the Creator each time they speak in public. Their humbleness. One friend often says “we are just pitiful people” during her prayers.

In the four years since that March, various combinations of us have had numerous opportunities to work together.

And yet again, that trust has been built, is being built slowly.

Foxy Onefeather holds sign on First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March (2018)

Spiritual guidance

Quakers believe our lives must be guided by the Spirit. But far too often people haven’t found, or don’t try to discern that spiritual guidance. They try to figure out how to do justice work on their own or in conjunction with like-minded people. with the best of intentions. That phrase usually indicates not listening to those affected by injustice. And indicates not having discerned what their faith is trying to tell them.

And that often results in unintended, harmful consequences. A common phrase to keep in mind is nothing about us without us. This is especially challenging for White people who are accustomed to their privileges. Often not even aware of those privileges. We would not need to qualify what our intentions were if we were following the leadership of the communities facing injustice.

One horrific example of best intentions gone wrong were the Indian boarding schools. A policy of forced assimilation of native children into White culture was thought by many to be a way to help Indian children adjust to the enveloping White society. But tens of thousands of children suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Thousands died. Genocide. And that trauma has been passed to each following generation, including todays. Every one of my native friends has been affected.

This is an example of difficulties in making connections between different communities and/or cultures. With this horrific history, and ongoing trauma, how can a bridge ever be built between these two cultures, White and Indigenous? Or between White and BIPOC people and communities? (Black, Indigenous and other people of color)

But for others, especially in the government and military, this policy and horror was exactly what they intended.

Mutual Aid

The Spirit also led me to become involved in a Mutual Aid community. And led me to be involved in efforts to abolish police and prisons. I’ve written extensively about these things on my website Quakers and Religious Socialism, Intersection of Mutual Aid, Abolition and Socialism.

How to create connections between different communities or cultures

Returning to Donald McCormick’s question, “why is there no vision for the future of Quakerism?” I’ve tried to express my answer here. In these increasingly trying times, spiritual guidance is crucial. Sharing this with others is a gift Quakers have to offer. But we need to understand the history and concepts of oppression. Of Quakers’ role in oppression. And discern how the Spirit is leading us.

Frontline communities are figuring out how to live when the systems that are supposed to serve them no longer do, if they ever did. White communities will look to these communities and their solutions for our own survival.

I was recently surprised when a Quaker friend said I had a way of finding and connecting with oppressed communities. Which made me realize something I hadn’t expressed before, which is we must seek out these communities ourselves. Be guided to these communities by the Spirit. Search for these opportunities. Searching social media is usually very useful. And we can learn what our Friends and friends are doing and join those efforts.

Following is a list of things I have been learning from my experiences related to making connections between different communities and/or cultures.

Collective emotional lift

As often happens, when I sat down to write this morning, I wasn’t sure what the subject would be. I’m aware of looking forward to being with my Mutual Aid friends this morning. I know they feel the same from comments I’ve heard over the past couple of years. I’ve heard my friends say this is the best part of their week.

In contrast, I sense so many people don’t have much joy in their lives. So many things are going wrong, things we could once rely on, we no longer can. We are entering a time of collapse. There is a general malaise, a fear for our future, the feeling we have no control, a spiritual poverty.

David Pollard has identified skills needed to deal with this developing collapse (listed below). I wrote about that and included my own vision of dealing with collapse here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/10/18/critical-skills-to-face-collapse/

Pollard asks four questions related to how we deal with collapse.

Dave Pollard, in How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse? raises these questions.

  1. What’s the most effective way to voluntarily get billions of people to the point they are capable of exercising the skills below?
  2. How do we get the timing right: Not so early that there’s not yet a sense of urgency, but not so late that we’re trying to do it in an environment of chaos?
  3. How might we begin to identify, improve the competencies of, and empower the right people to do the mentoring, teaching, training, demonstrating, connecting, modelling, and other hands-on imparting of knowledge and skills needed to make it happen?
  4. How can we make this new, crucial learning easier, and fun?

What caught my attention is how can we make this new learning fun? I think of endless committee meetings related to justice work, for example, and how they were not fun. And usually not effective. My friend Alvin at the Kheprw Institute always asks, “what actually changed as a result of what was done?”

Those of us who have organized rallies and marches know how difficult it is to get people to participate. If participating in something isn’t fun in the sense of being enjoyable, exciting, fulfilling, and meaningful, there will be little enthusiasm for people to participate and they won’t.

Our Mutual Aid work is fun and effective. We enjoy working together to put boxes of food together and enjoy our interactions with those who come for food. We are meeting an immediate survival need. But it does require a commitment to be present as often as possible. And it is very physical work. I remember when Ronnie was explaining this to me, he said at the end of the food distribution you were tired, sweaty, and feeling good. And so it was.

That is captured in this quote. “There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be.

You and your relations, my friend, are (still) busy building a different world at the end of this one. This is something I’ve emphasized over and over again in my own work. I cherish the belief and practice that it is never enough to just critique the system and name our oppression. We also have to create the alternative, on the ground and in real time. In part, for me, because Nishnaabeg ethics and theory demand no less. In part because in Nishnaabeg thinking, knowledge is mobilized, generated, and shared by collectively doing. It’s more than that, though. There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

I imagine you have experienced this. As I think of this in my life, I remember how significant it was at Scattergood Friends School when we did our assigned, rotating crews together. Such as preparing meals, baking bread, pruning trees in the orchard, even laundry crew that did the laundry for the entire student body. We had to have name tags sewn into every piece of our clothing so the laundry crew could separate everything out when the clothes were dry.

We experience this when we respond to community needs, such as weather disasters.

This is why I urge us to create our own, local Mutual Aid communities. Perhaps as important as providing essential resources to people is the experience of doing something meaningful. People have a desperate yearning to feel they are doing something worthwhile, something that fulfills their need to feel appreciated.

Collapse is coming at us far more quickly than we had anticipated.

In response to Pollard’s questions (above), the right timing is now. The way to get billions of volunteers to engage is to build Mutual Aid communities everywhere now, in part because Mutual Aid work is fun, meaningful, satisfying.

Soft skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Group facilitation
  • Helping people cope
  • Preparing healthy food
  • Caring for the young, old, and sick
  • Imaginative, reflective and creative skills
  • Mentoring
  • Listening, noticing and attention skills
  • Conversation
  • Community-building

Hard skills (that require some specific technical knowledge/experience

  • Growing and harvesting food
  • Making and repairing clothing and shelter from the elements
  • Accessing clean, safe water
  • Weaving, fabric-making, pottery and other crafting skills tha that make life much more pleasant and comfortable
  • Medical, medicinal, and injury-healing knowledge and skills
  • Food preservation
  • Bicycle construction and repair
  • Basic engineering skills
  • Ecological skills
  • Decommissioning-nuclear reactors and petrochemical sites

How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse? by Dave Pollard, How To save the world, September 10, 2022

    I’m reading a book about the lives of people in the most polluted, least educated, most disadvantaged, and most dangerously toxic (and most conservative) part of Louisiana (more about that in an upcoming article). What emerges from the author’s study is that (1) these people are living in a ‘world’ that is already in a very advanced state of economic and ecological collapse, one that may foretell what the rest of us in ‘affluent’ nations will soon face; (2) they are far more of a ‘community’ than most people living in cities could claim; and (3) they are not particularly interested in paternalistic ‘grief professionals’ ‘coaching’ them on how to manage the massive grief and other emotions they and their families have been dealing with for generations.

    How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse? by Dave Pollard, How To save the world, September 10, 2022

      But capitalism and colonialism created structures that have disrupted how people have historically connected with each other and shared everything they needed to survive. As people were forced into systems of wage labor and private property, and wealth became increasingly concentrated, our ways of caring for each other have become more and more tenuous. Today, many of us live in the most atomized societies in human history, which makes our lives less secure and undermines our ability to organize together to change unjust conditions on a large scale. We are put in competition with each other for survival, and we are forced to rely on hostile systems— like health care systems designed around profit, not keeping people healthy, or food and transportation systems that pollute the earth and poison people— for the things we need. More and more people report that they have no one they can confide in when they are in trouble. This means many of us do not get help with mental health, drug use, family violence, or abuse until the police or courts are involved, which tends to escalate rather than resolve harm. In this context of social isolation and forced dependency on hostile systems, mutual aid— where we choose to help each other out, share things, and put time and resources into caring for the most vulnerable— is a radical act.

      Dean Spade. Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (Kindle Locations 111-121). Verso.

      Sikowis Nobiss speaking at the beginning of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March https://firstnationfarmer.com/

      Reflections on Reflections

      The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March involved a group of about thirty native and non-native people walking, eating, and camping together for 8 days. We walked ninety-four miles from Des Moines to Fort Dodge Iowa, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline during the first week of September 2018.

      It was a bit amazing when I read the following as I’m reflecting on my experiences and friendships from the March.

      Roughly a year later, in 2019, as part of my work at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Denendeh, I helped organize a solidarity gathering that took place in March, in the territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN). Our idea was simple—to invite a small group of Black, Brown and Indigenous activists, thinkers, writers, and organizers to spend time with us, in the spring, on an island in what the Yellowknives Dene known as Tindeè, or “big lake.” Together we fished nets under the ice, travelled by snowmobile and sleigh across the frozen lake, shared moose ribs cooked over the fire, stories from YKDFN Elders, our own ideas, and time with each other.

      We wanted to invest in our relationship with each other and our affinities, outside of the institution, the internet, and crises, because we believed that the land would pull out a different set of conversations and gift us with a different way of relating. We wanted to sit together on the land, immersed in a Dene world, engage in a practice of Dene hospitality to see if we related to each other in a different way. This is exactly what happened. The land nurtured a set of conversations and way of relating to each other outside of the institution and its formations.

      Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 35). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

      In many ways the March was transformative for me. I wrote a long blog post of reflections on the March in early 2020. See: Reflections on the March.

      The world, and I, have changed a lot in just the two years since those reflections were written. These two images represent the time span between the March and work we are doing today.

      The first time I attended Quaker meeting after the March (2018), Russ Leckband gave me this piece of pottery, which was still warm from the kiln. The graphic on the right is about the Buffalo Rebellion, a climate justice summit, that I attended earlier this year.
      (See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=Buffalo+rebellion )

      I suppose this blog post is more reflections on the prior reflections.
      (As a photographer, I envision what that might look like)

      Indy Art Jeff Kisling

      Changes since the March in 2018

      Environmental devastation and chaos are occurring much more rapidly than expected. In some ways not anticipated. The havoc from increasingly ferocious and frequent wildfires, violent storms, floods, and development of large areas of drought are overwhelming our social, economic, and political systems. Continued wars ruin or prevent the transport of vast quantities of agricultural products.

      So many of the systems we used to depend on, we no longer can. Municipal services such as water, power, sewage, and trash processing will fail, are failing.  Food will no longer be available in grocery stores. Medical services will collapse. What will happen to those in prisons and long-term care facilities? Financial failures will wreck the economy and end social safety nets.

      There are other compelling reasons to design and build new communities. Our economic system has not adapted to the loss of jobs overseas and to automation. There are simply not enough jobs for millions of people, and many of those who do have work are paid at poverty levels. Forced to depend upon increasingly diminishing social safety nets.

      The judicial and law enforcement systems work with extreme bias against people of color. What will the response of militarized police, armed forces, armed militias be as social unrest escalates?

      How do we respond? Some lessons learned from and since the March.

      It is one thing to talk about change, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the reality of the changes described above. So, this is not an intellectual exercise.

      Almost none of the White people I know, or have observed, are thinking of the radical changes necessary to deal with this evolving chaos. They are trapped in these failing systems and ways of being. Even those who recognize the many injustices of those systems.

      For many reasons I believe our responses will be a return toward Indigenous ways and the sustainable ways of our ancestors.

      White settler colonists must learn the true history, which was not taught to us. We can’t begin repair if we don’t know the underlying sources of injustice. We must stop treating the symptoms and instead focus on the causes, the underlying disease.

      I FEEL THAT I NEED TO go backward in order to go forward. If we are going to find a way to make livable lives in these times, it is necessary to move beyond “human-related activities”: the climate crisis is tethered to its origins in slavery and colonialism, genocide and capitalism.

      Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 25). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

      I’ve been learning about the #LANDBACK movement, but I hadn’t consciously made the connection to the land we walked and slept upon during the March. We were deeply affected when we crossed the pipeline. And were aware of how different it was to spend hours outside and away from the busy-ness of technology. Many more hours than usual for many of us. And yet time had that elastic property that made hours seem like minutes and vice versa as we traveled through space together. Hearing stories of the past that can help us face the future.

      Most of my White friends are horrified as they are learning more about the atrocities committed at the Indian boarding schools. Can hardly believe thousands of children died there. But they are being forced to as the remains of the children are being located.

      White people cannot process these things and begin healing as long as they remain in the their White spaces and thinking. And deny any responsibility for what was done in the past.

      My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

      As William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prolog”. Native children are still being taken from their families in the guise of child welfare. Native children are still forcefully assimilated when they are forced to read the White settler colonist view of history.

      My involvement in Mutual Aid for the past two years has resulted in significant changes in my life. Changes that can be done now and help us move into the future. Another quote from the book Rehearsals for Living eloquently describes Mutual Aid.

      My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

      You and your relations, my friend, are (still) busy building a different world at the end of this one. This is something I’ve emphasized over and over again in my own work. I cherish the belief and practice that it is never enough to just critique the system and name our oppression. We also have to create the alternative, on the ground and in real time. In part, for me, because Nishnaabeg ethics and theory demand no less. In part because in Nishnaabeg thinking, knowledge is mobilized, generated, and shared by collectively doing. It’s more than that, though. There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

      Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

      Following is the latest version of a diagram I’ve been working on to visualize some of what I’ve expressed above.

      Court: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

      Iowa Supreme Court September 12, 2018

      September 12, 2018 was the day Iowa landowners and the Sierra Club’s oral arguments in the case against the Iowa Public Utilities Board (IUB) were heard before the Iowa Supreme Court. The landowners and Sierra Club contend that the Public Utilities Board improperly allowed Energy Transfer Partners to use eminent domain to force Iowa landowners to let the Dakota Access Pipeline be constructed on their land.

      One of the main objectives of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was to call attention to this court case.  We had a large banner saying Stop Eminent Domain Abuse with us on the March. A similar sign was painted on our portable rest room/shower.

      I didn’t enter the Court that day because I had my camera with me, and photos weren’t allowed inside. As my friends left the Court, they told me the justices seemed pretty well informed about the issues. The Court’s decision may not come for weeks or months. It is unclear what will happen if the Court decides for the landowners.

      The other primary purpose of the March was to build a community of activists who began to know each other so we could work together. This court date was the first opportunity for that to happen, and I was very glad to see quite a few of my fellow Marchers at the Court this morning.

      The decision several months later was against the landowners and for the pipeline.

      Back at the Iowa Utilities Board

      We’re back at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) these days, this time to object to proposed carbon pipelines.

      Another pipeline and the courts

      In a decisive victory for Native American rights, a federal judge just ordered an energy company to completely remove a natural gas pipeline.

      Seventeen years after the expiration of an easement, a federal judge has ordered an energy company to completely remove its pipeline from the properties of 38 Native American landowners — none of whom have been compensated for the company’s use of their land since the year 2000.

      Now, the pipeline company will have just six months to dismantle and completely remove the structure.

      “Having carefully reviewed the parties’ submissions, and in light of the facts and circumstances in this case,” Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote in the 10-page decision for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, “the court finds that a permanent injunction should be entered in this case. Specifically, it is plaintiffs’ interests in the exclusive possession of their land which has been invaded by the presence of the pipeline and defendants’ continued use of the pipeline.

      JUDGE ORDERS REMOVAL OF GAS PIPELINE FROM NATIVE AMERICAN PROPERTY By Staff, nativefire.blogspot.com, November 25, 2017

      I’m having trouble finding much more information beyond this article saying the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the permanent injunction of the case cited above.

      While Enable Midstream Partners LP recently lost a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding its pipeline operation near Anadarko, the company will not be forced to rip up 1,300 feet of the pipeline.

      It came out of the Tenth Circuit court this week in a case involving a group of tribal landowners who filed suit a few years ago and accused the company of trespassing.

      The Tenth Circuit ruling this week stayed a permanent injunction handed down earlier by Oklahoma City U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in which the company had been ordered to remove the pipeline by May 5.

      Enable Won’t Be Forced to Remove Pipeline After Losing Lawsuit, OK Energy Today, April 26, 2018

      Day 8: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

      Eighth and final day.  September 8, 2018.  Walk 12.4 miles from Otho to the end of the march at Fort Dodge, Iowa.

      It was cold when we awoke this morning at 6:00 a.m. and broke camp in the dark. I didn’t want to get out of the sleeping bag. But this was the big day, one we were both looking forward to, and not. Fortunately, hot coffee was ready. Last night we talked about the need to get going early, because people would be expecting us to arrive in Fort Dodge by 1:30 pm. Many of us were skeptical that we could leave early enough to walk the 12.4 miles to get there in time, but we managed to do so.

      One way this will be an interesting day for me is because my camera battery finally died. I thought it would last and hadn’t brought my battery charger. So, the photos of this final day of the march were taken with my cell phone camera.

      Before we started walking, we had a nice ceremony where we gave the money we had collected to Alton and Foxy as a gift for their upcoming wedding. Fintan decorated the envelope.

      Alton and Foxy didn’t know about the money we collected for their upcoming wedding

      Many times I heard people talking about how sad they will be when the March is finished. Many friendships had been made, as you can see from all the smiles in the photos.

      Among my many new friends were Matt and Alton, so I was glad to have the selfie Alton took of us, and the photo Miriam took of Matt and I. Matt and I talked much of this final day of the March. Since the end of the March we have chatted via Messenger. I’m glad we’re keeping in touch. He is editing more of the video he took during the March and I look forward to seeing them.

      Alton and I
      Matt and I

      We had a police escort through downtown Fort Dodge. At the City Square Park the tipi had been set up.

      Foxy and Donnielle

      Arriving at park in Fort Dodge

      I was amazed by the huge mural that hung on the side of the gear truck. Several people had been working on this all during the week.

      Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss

      Donnielle EWanatee

      Drummers played and sang the “Mni Wiconi Song.” According to The Messenger newspaper, the English translation of the lyrics is:

      “Grandmother earth gives life
      The water is sacred
      The water that gives life is sacred
      DAPL is very bad
      The Nation needs to take heart and be brave.”

      The Messenger published a nice summary of the March and celebration, with photos, including one of my bandaged foot and shoes. “Many steps. One journey”, September 10, 2018.


      The band Brutal Republic performed. All of their equipment was being powered by the solar system that had accompanied us all week. My brother Randy, who was there to give me a ride home, thought they sounded really good and would have like to stay for a while. But I was way too tired to enjoy it.

      During the week we came to understand how much work was involved in planning and guiding this March, and are very grateful. So many people contributed in so many ways.

      I hope we can be together again soon. As our environmental chaos gets worse, I think a combination of the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous people and progressive farmers, thinkers and activists will be crucial.

      Two-eyed seeing “recognizes the benefits of seeing from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, from the other eye the strengths of the Western ways of knowing, and using both of these eyes together to create new forms of understanding and insight.” 

      Elder Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni First Nation) from Urban Tribes, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

      Day 7: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

      Day 7, September 7, 2018.    11.7 miles from Dayton to Otho, Iowa.

      Yesterday evening the solar panel unit was set up because there wasn’t any electricity available in the park. The power strip was full of cell phone power connections. It was nice to see solar power in action. Electricity that didn’t come from fossil fuel.

      Solar panels

      It was cool when we broke camp, but a pretty pleasant day to march, with the sun coming out soon after we started. Since much of the route today wasn’t on busy roads, we were able to walk side by side and share more stories.

      I don’t know if someone just made the name up, but this very steep hill was called ‘suicide hill’. At the bottom was a creek. On the wall of the bridge someone had previously written ‘Mni Wiconi”, Water Is Life.

      Also near that creek, Manape showed us wild grapes growing alongside the road, and the fragrance of them when they were crushed.

      The last part of the day’s walk was past a field of wind turbines. I didn’t notice sound coming from them as we walked past, but that night as we were sitting around the bonfire there was a noticeable “whoosh” sound. We camped near the turbines.

      After dinner it was dark. We sat around a bonfire. Trisha Etringer led a very interesting discussion about decolonization.

      Then Manape spoke about sovereignty, and especially sovereignty of yourself. And how he came to the conclusion that he should give up both his United States citizenship and tribal membership to achieve his own sovereignty.

      I think we were all feeling sad that this sacred journey would be coming to an end at Ford Dodge tomorrow. I heard numerous comments about that. I was certainly feeling that way.

      Day 6: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

      Day 6 Sept 6, 2018 Pilot Mound – Dayton 9.0 miles

      Day 6 of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March began with another awesome breakfast by Lyssa Wade. As we were waiting to start walking we saw one of the March tee-shirts hanging in the window across the street.

      Matthew Lone Bear and Sikowis see the March tee shirt

      Foxy Onefeather continued to carry the large poster calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women.

      Foxy Onefeather

      I was again reminded of my reliance on cell phone and Internet access when I couldn’t check the weather, news or email that morning. I hoped my family wasn’t worried that I hadn’t been able to connect with them while we were in Pilot Mound.

      Rather than getting more difficult with each passing day, it is getting easier to cover the miles (fortunately!), even now that I’m walking on a blistered foot and my backup shoes.

      This was another day of sharing stories and getting to know each other better. I’ll let the photos tell today’s story.

      After setting up my tent once we arrived at Oak Park in Dayton, I spent most of the rest of the day at the public golf course’s country club, which was adjacent to the park. I had two days of photos and writing to catch up on. Unfortunately I missed the evening presentation.

      The folks at the country club were very nice, allowing us to sit in the club where there was internet service available (which didn’t extend as far as the campground). They also invited those who wanted to use their showers.

      We actually had a night outside with no storms.

      Day 5: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

      Day 5. September 5, 2018.  14 miles from the Boone County Fairgrounds to Pilot Mound, Iowa.

      Once again I was pleasantly surprised to awaken feeling fairly refreshed, despite being pretty tired at the end of yesterday’s 15 miles, and staying up late to write. Since we were all sleeping in the same large room, the lights went out a little after 10 p.m. There were no windows so it was pretty dark. Several others and I were in a smaller ‘media’ room writing. I didn’t get to bed until 11:30. It was a little tricky finding my way through the large darkened room to my sleeping bag

      When we arrived yesterday I discovered I had worn a hole into the sole of my shoes, and developed a blister. I would have been more concerned but I had seen Miriam work on a number of other people’s blisters. She cut a piece of adhesive foam larger than the blister, then cut a hole in the middle of that the size of the blister, to help keep pressure off it. Then the ever useful duct tape was wrapped around the foot to hold things in place. And it worked pretty well. A photo of my bandaged foot was included in the article about the March in the Fort Dodge Messenger, Many Steps, One Journey.

      Miriam Kashia foot doctor extraordinaire

      It was raining harder than ever when we started out that morning. But again, I didn’t hear any complaints. We were warned to be more aware of traffic because we started out going through town. Before we started burning sage was brought to each of us. And Alton made a raincoat for his dog Oceti.

      Being outside all day, and sometimes sleeping outside (sometimes in some strong thunderstorms) has made me more and more aware of the natural world. I’ve mentioned before how I enjoyed being outside as I trained for this March. Walking has been much more interesting now that I am aware, as Indigenous people have always been, that everything: trees, water, plants, rocks, wind, etc. has the Spirit in them. I found myself focusing on talking to the trees, squirrels and birds as I walked.

      At one rest stop a police officer stopped to see what we were doing. Manape spoke to him. We were careful to use a system to announce when a car was approaching from the front (“car up”) or back (“car back”). Everyone then immediately formed a single file and got as far off the road as possible. Even so, the police often seemed to have heard about us marching, though none of the policemen caused us any trouble.

      There wasn’t quite as much talking today since there wasn’t much of a shoulder on the road, so we had to walk in single file.

      Before crossing the river just before reaching our destination of Pilot Mound, we came to another pipeline crossing. We could see the area where trees had been removed to build the pipeline on the hill on the other side of the river.

      As always, we stopped for prayers. This time I was asked to lead them. I was very happy to have this opportunity to share some about Quakers and the Spirit. As we stood in a circle holding hands, I mentioned that Peter Clay, Lee Tesdell, and I were Quakers. And that I hoped they would meet my brother Randy, also a Quaker, when he comes to Fort Dodge at the end of the March, for the celebration and give me a ride home. I’ve been trying to share about Quakers as opportunities come up for several reasons. I think there are many parts of Quakerism that are common with the spirituality of Indigenous people.

      And as Manape has said, the reason we are marching together is to make it possible for us to continue to work together in the future. For that to happen, we need to trust each other. And for trust to be established, we need to understand each other. That was why I shared about Quakerism when it seemed appropriate.

      As we stood in the circle I said that Quakers do not believe spirituality is just a matter of Sunday morning services. We try to be attentive to the spirit all the time, though we often get distracted. We do also gather together Sunday morning to worship in silence. That sometimes someone is given a spiritual message that they speak into the silence. During the March someone had asked if I was a minister and before I could answer, Miriam said, “he’s a Quaker and all Quakers are ministers.”

      During the ceremony at this pipeline crossing I asked the circle of my friends to listen together to the Spirit (saying we wouldn’t do so for a whole hour). But in the time we spent worshiping together, I felt the presence of the spirit among us. Afterward several people gave me hugs and thanked me. As I think about it now, I have felt the spirit among us all week.

      Once we arrived in Pilot Mound some of us noticed we were being followed by a car for a while. We learned the driver was Manape’s father, Frank, and he was just enjoying watching us march together. Frank has been a very active activist.

      One of the most moving parts of this journey occurred as Frank spoke to us before we ate dinner. He began by saying he was honored to be with us and how blessed he felt as he watched us marching. He said it made his “heart soar like a hawk.” He spoke of the many issues he has worked on in his life. And how it takes many, many years to see results (40, more). That it is not the number of people involved that is important. It is their persistence in raising up the truth. Once a certain concern starts to see a shift toward what is right, others remember the people or person who never went away during all those years.

      We found there was no cell phone or internet service available in Pilot Mound. In a way that seemed to symbolize that we were cut off from civilization. The whole marching and camping experience felt like we were back in a simpler time. We felt more in touch with nature. We also knew things like the severe storms and flooding we experienced were related to climate change, and to what we were trying to call attention to by marching.