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Returning to the Oceti Sakowin Tipi in Winter #NativeJournalism #StandingRock #NoDAPL


So, I am heading back to Standing Rock next week—and bringing my husband and son, too! And yes, I'm crowdsourcing my work there. Please help in any way you can either by donating or sharing. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far!

Here is a link to the campaign: Fund Native Journalism! #DAPL #StandingRock

The latest update on the campaign with photos from my last visit:

It was a sunny day in October when we set up the tipi at my tribe's camp, the Ihanktonwan (Yankton Sioux) in the Oceti Sakowin camp. I had asked them what they needed and they told me tipi poles. They had a cover, but no poles. Driving through the camp, I spotted an entire set of tipi poles lying next to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp. When I asked if I could purchase them, they invited me to drink coffee and eat stew with them and we talked about all sorts of things for a couple of hours. Finally, they decided it was time and four of the men loaded the poles up on a flatbed trailer and drove them over to the Yankton/Lower Brule camp. There, the Lower Brule chairman, Lewis Grassrope helped us tie the poles together.

It was a good day to put up a tipi, sunny and beautiful, but this week, seeing the snow that has blanketed the camp, I often wonder now how the tipi is doing.

When the cover went on I was surprised—I hadn't realized it was painted with the seven council fires. The sight of those seven fires blazing, the very image of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) that we all had gathered to see reborn from all our suffering this past 160 years. As we prayed over the prayer flags, I told a family story, an Ihanktowan story, from the time just before the Americans came. It's about a boy named Matowi (Red Bear) and a horse that could not be tamed and the last visit of the White Buffalo Calf to our people. My Lala had told it to me growing up. When he would finish telling it he would tell us that it was our family's duty to tell the story to the people, so they would not lose hope and would be able to make it through this long winter of our people. As I told the story, I hoped it would do what he said it would, and help our Dakota people today make it through this literal winter, the first in a long time we have camped together as one Oyate (nation).

I thank you all for your donations in helping me return to see this tipi. I look forward to returning next week with my son, Joneya Matoska (White Bear)—who at 13 years old is about the age the boy-hero Matowi was in the story when he did his miraculous deeds. Pidamaya ye (thank you) to all of you for helping to make this happen for myself and for all of the Oceti Sakowin.

Photos I took from the tipi-raising at the Ihanktonwan camp:
The poles being loaded at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp

Bringing in the poles.
The Yankton Sioux Tribe camp laying out the canvas cover.
Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Lewis Grassrope directs us.
Tying the poles tight.

Tipi poles converging.



Last tipi pole
The Seven Council Fires on the canvas.



The Yankton Sioux Tribe flag!



Jacqueline Keeler
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