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oil companies for bringing all these indigenous people together!” He beams as he looks around at the young people with whom he shares the International Indigenous Youth Council Camp on the south shore of the Cannonball River. One of those people is Mia Stevens, a 22-year-old woman from the Paiute Reservation in Nevada, who is of Mexica, Ute, Diné, Paiute and Puerto Rican descent. On the holiday, she and almost 1,000 others marched to an ancient burial ground known as Turtle Island on a hilltop overlooking the Missouri River. Construction crews dug through it a few weeks ago to lay a section of pipeline. Riot cops currently guard the site. “We really wanted to make an honorable prayer for the trauma and genocide our people have been through,” Stevens says. They sang and prayed, she says, for the next seven generations, that their descendents wouldn’t feel the same pain and shame that they have. “We only sang our ceremonial songs. We approached the guards, in peace, and asked them to stand down,” she says, her eyes glowing with the memory. “They didn’t, but some of them lowered their face shields to respect our prayers. That was really big. Because we pray for them, too. We know they’re just doing their jobs. We’re doing this for their children, too.” Stevens, shaking her head, mentions that some celebrities offered a big dinner feast, but that the natives declined. “We don’t want their pity food,” she says. “We want them to stand with us. We want them to pray with us.” Prayer is at the heart of the approach indigenous people and their non-indigenous supporters have taken at Standing Rock. “We don’t call what we’re doing actions or protests. We call them prayers,” explains King. “Everything we do out here is with peace and with prayer. When I came out here, I started learning my language and our songs. When we all sing together, I can feel myself growing like a tree. Now that we’ve found our way, we’ll never stop fighting. This is just the beginning.”


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