Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint

Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint,

As you will know, we have reached another flashpoint in the Wet’suwet’en’s struggle against the CGL pipeline. Having fought to protect the sacred headwaters of Wedzwin kwa, they are now faced with the possibility of imminent drilling. Today, the hereditary chiefs are holding a press conference and issuing an eviction notice. They are issuing a call to action, which we are relaying to you.

The chiefs are calling for people to take on three targets: BC government, contractors, and the funder, RBC. Decolonial Solidarity members will rally to pressure the latter. For organized groups, we are issuing a call for in-person action. For everyone else, we are inviting you to call the global head of sustainability at RBC.

Click here to access a one-click-to-call action

We have managed to get this man’s personal phone number. It is important that we stay polite and firm in denouncing the actions of the bank. Remember: it can freeze its investment until the hereditary chiefs consent to the project. It can stop the drilling. It is this man’s job to ensure that the bank is sustainable. Let’s remind him there’s a ways to go.

Call the head of sustainability!

Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders have not given up and nor will we. We will continue to build our movement, to show solidarity, to turn up at branches, to talk to our neighbors and to passers by, to mobilize in protest, to confront RBC executives, and to send our love to the admirable Land Defenders whose leadership has inspired us throughout these difficult times.

In solidarity,
The organizing team

(This message from decolonial solidarity on behalf of the Gidimt’en land and water protectors is forwarded with the permission of the Unist’ot’en  in solidarity with their neighboring clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.)

Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade robertages@telus.net



ecology, culture, and spirituality

Spirituality is rarely spoken of in the tsunami of information and stories found on all types of media, related to the dangerous times we are living in. And the future our children face. The unfolding apocalyptic reality.

As the reality of escalating environmental chaos becomes impossible to ignore, vast numbers of people are demanding immediate solutions. And with the realization there are no quick fixes, panic spreads. Dystopian stories emerge. Hopelessness sets in.

I’m glad to have found Emergence Magazine, which asks the question “what does living in an unfolding apocalyptic reality look like?”

”Emergence is an essential and exquisite addition to our way of seeing and honoring this extraordinary planet.”

-Camille Dungy, editor of B1ack Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

Launched in Spring 2018, Emergence Magazine is an award-winning quarterly online publication with an annual print edition exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality.

My last blog post was about one of the stories from Emergence Magazine. Joy is the justice we give ourselves.

“If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves.”

James Allen

Stories are the way we share our lived experiences, thoughts, and calls for change. And express our views of the present and the future. The stories in Emergence Magazine explore these things.


Some of the ways I’m involved in sharing stories include:


“The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we shall find the hope beyond hope, the paths that lead to the unknown world ahead of us.” Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine

Most of us lack the stories that help imagine a future where we thrive in the midst of unstoppable ecological catastrophe. To borrow a phrase from storyteller Martin Shaw, this is because our imaginations have been colonised by things that don’t always mean us well.

We have been propelled to this point by the myths of progress, limitless growth, our separateness from nature and god-like dominion over it. These myths have shown up in our stories in peculiar ways of late. Since around the turn of the millennium there has been a surge in post-apocalyptic fiction. A steady stream of films, television series and novels have portrayed desolate and barely habitable future landscapes, often roamed by marauding bands of psychopaths, flesh-eating zombies or similar agents of malevolence. The frequent appearance of post-apocalyptic themes undoubtedly reflects our rising collective existential anxiety about our future. But perhaps more telling is the recurring themes of horror, deprivation and dystopian political order that nearly always characterise these depictions of the future. It seems our minds have been so thoroughly colonised by the myths of growth and progress that we cannot imagine how the collapse of the current order could possibly produce a future that resembles anything short of hell.

If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves. We need to dig deep into old stories and reveal their wisdom, as well as lovingly nurture the emergence of new stories into being. This will not be easy. The myths of this age are deeply rooted in our culture. The talking heads (even the green ones) echo these myths with the dogmatic fervour of zealots. They talk of “saving the planet” through transitioning to a “sustainable” future, primarily through new renewable energy technologies. They seem only able to conceive of a good life that mirrors our lives more or less as they are now, where the living standard continues to improve and rate of consumption continues to grow, yet somehow decoupled from all the pollution, destruction and guilt.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse by James Allen, originally published by Medium, June 18, 2019


Let this darkness be a bell tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29. By Rainer Maria Rilke

Preserving Subpoena Power

One September 1, I had a Skype meeting with Reid Willis in Senator Grassley’s Washington, DC, office. Reid was familiar with the history of Indian Boarding Schools. He told me Senator Grassley agreed with intent of S 2907 with two exceptions. Or, as a friend says, he doesn’t support it.

  • He feels the commission would duplicate work already being done by the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.
  • And particularly because he is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he doesn’t think that such a commission should have subpoena power.

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative lays the groundwork for continued work of the Interior Department.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

In June 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive effort to recognize the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding school policies with the goal of addressing their intergenerational impact and to shed light on the traumas of the past.

The announcement directed the Department, under the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, to prepare a report detailing available historical records relating to federal Indian boarding schools and to develop the first official list of sites. On May 11, 2022, Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary Newland released Volume 1 of the investigative report. This report lays the groundwork for the continued work of the Interior Department to address the intergenerational trauma created by historical federal Indian boarding school policies. It reflects an extensive and first-ever inventory of federally operated schools, including profiles and maps.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

I am pleased to release the first volume of the report, which represents the first attempt to produce a historical list of all Federal Indian boarding schools, to collect information about known and possible student burial sites, and to lay out a critical historical overview that sheds light on the damaging consequences of these policies and marks a path toward redressing their lasting consequences. A second volume will follow and will serve as a roadmap for continuing the compilation of records, in order to further efforts to heal the intergenerational trauma and associated economic, health, social, spiritual, and political impacts created by these failed policies.

Deb Halland,
Secretary of the Interior



https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.187/ee8.a33.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-Truth-and-Healing-Commission-on-Indian-Boarding-School-Policies-Act-FINAL.pdf

Preserving Subpoena Power

One area of particular concern is whether the Truth and Healing Commission would have subpoena power. The bill, in its current form, allows for the commission to subpoena organizations involved in the operation of Native boarding schools. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that this would grant too much power to the investigation, outside of what is legally necessary.

Supporters of the bill, however, argue that without subpoena powers, the ability of the commission to conduct its investigation would be severely hindered.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

The House Education and Labor Committee will consider the Truth and Healing bill next before it can go to the House floor for vote. This is a critical time for faith communities, Quaker meetings, and lawmakers in Congress to support the commission and uphold support for subpoena powers. Without access to records and documents, the commission cannot effectively bring justice to the countless victims and their families.

Lawmakers Make Progress on Native Boarding School Legislation by Seneca Ransom, Friends Committee on National Legislation, July 12, 2022


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

The Great Plains Action Society has published an “Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends”, which includes information about using FCNL’s letter writing templates for supporters of the bill to use to contact their representatives in Congress about this legislation.

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends, Great Plains Action Society


National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Week One of Seven: Help us bring justice, accountability, awareness, and healing by telling the unvarnished truth about America’s history and genocide committed against Indigenous Peoples by way of Federal Indian boarding school policies. NABS asks that you please call the U.S. House leadership and request “they bring forward HR. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission to the floor to vote on during November which is Native American Heritage Month.” #NABS#Time4Justice


Lobbying Senator Ernst’s staff about S. 2907

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.

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.

http://www.messengernews.net/news/local-news/2018/09/many-steps-one-journey/

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.

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

I am very happy that my friends of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) are asking their supporters to use the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) letter writing tool to send letters to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444) to their congressional representatives.


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

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 (esp Jeff!):

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 3: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 3 Sept 3, 2018 Huxley – Ames 9.2 miles

Prior to beginning today, Tricia performed smudging for us, to remove negative energy and bring positive energy. That this was offered to all of us, sharing this Native practice, is just one of many examples of all of us sharing with each other. This sharing was crucial to our growing interconnections, and building a single community, together.


This video was shot by Mahmud Fitil who is marching with us. My feet felt better after that. Mahmud told me when he went to the site of a tar sands train derailment the smell was so bad people nearly vomited.

For the first several hours it was raining pretty hard. Prior to this march, I never would have ventured out into such heavy rain. But this morning I didn’t hear one person suggest we should wait until it wasn’t raining so hard.  Not one person complaining. We just put on our rain gear, had our morning circle to discuss the day’s route, and began to march and continue sharing our stories. One of the most remarkable and most meaningful things that happened on this march was the extended length of time we were with each other, and the conversations went on almost non-stop.

After Lee Tesdell’s presentation last night, he took me to see where the pipeline crossed the highway we would be traveling on when we left Huxley. We planned to have a ceremony when we reached the pipeline. Donnielle Wanatee offered good prayers, asking for protection for the walkers, and for their families at home. I was surprised at what an emotional time this was. It was especially difficult for Kathy Byrnes, bringing back a lot of bad memories of her past experiences with the construction of the pipeline on her neighbor’s land. Many offered her hugs.

I could see from the expressions and body language that every one of us was feeling the trauma of the land and water being desecrated by the black snake.

These deep emotions were felt by all of us every time we crossed the pipeline. I could see from the expressions and body language that every one of us was feeling the trauma of the land and water being desecrated by the black snake.

So today was mostly about walking in the rain, sharing more stories, and experiences at the pipeline sites.


The tipi was set up again in Ames. Here is a short video of putting the cover on the tipi.

And that has made all the difference

This morning my spirit was restless. I wasn’t led to what to write. Those who know me know I have a pretty rigid practice of trying to write first thing in the morning. If I don’t, I can rarely write later in the day. I get distracted by the busy-ness of life. And it doesn’t work to try to force myself to write if I’m not clear about what the subject might be.

It was a little foggy out this morning and I loved to try to capture photos of that. Even though, or perhaps because, such images are a challenge to capture. So, I took the photography/nature path instead of trying to write. Some of today’s photos are at the end of this.

My Spirit was happy as we traveled together.

I had taken the phrase “the road not taken” literally. Often as I hike and walk, I’m presented with a choice of which way to go.

But of course, that can apply to many other choices. The two roads at the beginning of this day were writing or walking.

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

There have been many times taking the road less traveled by made “all the difference” in my life. Deciding to resist the draft, joining Friends Volunteer Service, choosing to work in neonatal intensive care, and then doing research in the Infant Pulmonary Function Lab. Learning computer programming. Being on the General Committee of FCNL. Connecting with the Kheprw Institute. Joining communities to protect the water including the Keystone Pledge of Resistance and Dakota Access pipeline. Getting in a van of fifteen people I didn’t know to go the Minneapolis on a snowy day to cut off the head of the black snake. Walking and camping ninety four miles with native and nonnative people. Learning to be clerk of peace and social concerns, and more recently Bear Creek Friends meeting. Joining Des Moines Mutual Aid. Many of those were difficult choices for a variety of reasons at the time. But every time they made all the difference.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

This reminded me of a story told by my late Quaker friend Eldon Morey.


An Established Travel Plan Suddenly Re-routed

The year was 1972.  June was begun and Eldon’s classes at the University of South Dakota that spring had concluded.  The Moreys and their two small children were en route on Highway 385 from north of Hot Springs, South Dakota headed to Rapid City. It was a long overdue vacation following two years of intense graduate study by Eldon and night-work at the Vermilion Hospital by Karen as an Emergency Room Nurse.  Money was in short supply, so the trip was a tenting excursion with reservations and a documented travel plan which had been formulated over several months.  The Rapid City Public Campground was free.  Midway between Hot Springs and Deadwood they planned to turn on Highway 16 which goes to Rapid City.  Deadwood farther to the northwest was scheduled to be visited after a short stay in Rapid City.

As they approached the turn to Highway 16, it suddenly occurred to Eldon they might change their travel plan and continue on Number 385 directly to Deadwood. So he immediately blurted-out, “Would anyone rather go directly to Deadwood and we can see Rapid City during our return trip to southeastern South Dakota?”  Karen was amazed such a sudden thought had entered Eldon’s thinking.  Such a change would nullify the dates of their camping reservations and confuse their friends who had been given a schedule of their plans should they need to be contacted.  Karen, therefore, remained silent.  The children were too small to have opinions.  By then Eldon had made the turn to Highway 16.  But, lacking family response he immediately turned the car around and re-entered Highway 385 going north.  They were headed to Deadwood!

They arrived at Deadwood in time to participate in the final public tour of the “Gold Mine” at Lead, the adjoining city.  They then searched for the campground where they had reservations for the next evening.  There was plenty of room at the campground and they soon had their tent set and an evening meal cooking. All was well.  The children were tired so all four of them took to their sleeping bags as darkness settled.

Soon thereafter it began to rain.  Oh my, how it rained.  It rained so hard the inside of the tent was coated with moisture from the condensation in the air.  Never-the-less, they slept soundly.  The rain stopped when breakfast time arrived.  So they opened the tent vents, hung the opened sleeping bags on the clothesline to dry and made breakfast.  Everything was dry and packed to resume car travel by 10 o’clock.

As they were entering the car, a fellow camper happened to walk past them.  “Oh,” he said, “I see you are leaving the campground!”  “Yes,” Eldon said, “We’re going back to Deadwood for a “look around,” and then we’ll head to Rapid City.  “Rapid City?,” the man questioned.  “You can’t go to Rapid City!”  “Why not?” Eldon replied.  “You don’t know, do you?” the man responded.

“Rapid City during the night of June 9-10, 1972 experienced one of the worst floods in the history of South Dakota.   Fifteen inches of extreme rainfall over six hours sent Rapid Creek and other waterways overflowing…  The Canyon Lake Dam became clogged with debris and failed, resulting in 238 deaths and 3,057 injuries… There were over 1,335 homes and 5,000 automobiles destroyed” (Wikipedia). They later were told a 12 foot high wall of water rushed down Rapid Creek through the center of Rapid City where the campground was located.  Everyone in the campground was drowned”

Four or five years ago Karen and Eldon visited Rapid City for the first time since the flood more than 38 years earlier.  In the Campground Park was a brass plated obelisk with the names of those people who perished the night of the flood while camping there.  There were more than thirty names on that monument.  It was a very sobering moment because the Morey’s knew their family’s four names would have been there had they not been re-directed.

A couple of years ago while en-route to Yearly Meeting, they stopped in Oelwein to visit Eldon’s aunt and his cousins. Don Avenson, one of his cousins, and he were talking about Quakerism.  Don is a former Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives and a past Candidate for Governor.  Eldon told him the story of the Rapid City Flood and explained that many “Traditional Quakers”  are strongly “convinced” that the Divine Spirit sometimes provides “Leadings” which guide people.   Don’s comment was, “If I had been redirected to avoid Rapid City during the night of June 9, 1972, I would be a Quaker too!”   (Check Google for detailed information and photographs of the “Rapid City Flood of 1972”.)

Eldon Morey, An Established Travel Plan Suddenly Re-routed


Foggy morning 9/4/2022