Emergency Financial Support to Travel to Standing Rock

Osiyo Readers,

As many of you know I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a journalist. I’ve never used my blog in this way, but my Native community is under attack and we need help. I’m reaching out to you for emergency financial support to travel to the Standing Rock Reservation in Cannonball, ND to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline and to report the news from the ground.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile pipeline that stretches from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois and crosses the Missouri River (MO) and the Oglala Aquifer which is the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The DAPL was originally planned to cross the MO River near Bismarck, but it was deemed a too heavily populated area to risk the water supply so it was rerouted to the reservation. This act of environmental racism and genocide led to the creation of the Sacred Stone Camp and many other camps near the DAPL construction site near the reservation. Since Sacred Stone was created in July 2016, over 4,000 people of over 300 tribal nations have traveled there to protect the water, Native lives, and our way of life. Since then, the ND government and the DAPL have unleashed extreme violence against our people through the use of the National Guard, drones, attack dogs, mace, helicopters, assault weapons, brutality, harassment, LRAD, cutting off the water supply, and many of those arrested have been sexually assaulted by law enforcement through the use of unnecessary strip searches.

The purpose of my trip to Standing Rock is to stand in solidarity with our people there, to help protect the water, but also to provide further Native created media content for primarily non-Native media sources. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been covered well in Native media, but has had little attention in mainstream media, as well as in this year’s election cycle. The coverage that has occurred, has been primarily by non-Native journalists and has been racist or misconstrued. It is crucial that Native People are able to tell our stories to the world in our own voices, especially for Native Women and LGBTQ Two Spirit Natives.

This request is coming on the heels of yet another attack of the people at Standing Rock. On Saturday, the paramilitary outfitted law enforcement of North Dakota maced and used brutal force on the peaceful Water Protectors. Eighty-three people were arrested, including journalists, and one was sent to the hospital due to the police brutality. They threw one of our peaceful girls to the ground with her face buried in the mud. The police have been confiscating people’s phones for weeks so that they cannot share videos and photos of the abuses there. The ND government has not only arrested journalists, but has attempted to charge them with trespassing and rioting and one documentary filmmaker now faces up to 45 years in prison. Native People at the camps are calling for more warriors to come and help protect the water.

As a Native Woman it is my duty to be there to stand with my relations to protect the water and lives of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, as well as those that will impacted by the devastation of the Missouri river, but also to further report the news. Our realities must be told to the world and they must be told by us.

Because I’m a freelance writer I do not have the financial support that some journalists may have. I’m asking the greater community to help me make the trip to Standing Rock, by making donations and purchasing the items on my Standing Rock Amazon Wish List. The majority of the supplies on the wish list will be left with the people at the camps. By helping me you’re also creating further resources for those at the camps, specifically for those with mobility impairments who require accommodations such as cots and chairs.

Any amount you are able to give is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to making this a reality. You can read some of my published work on Wear Your Voice, The Establishment, and Autostraddle.

My fundraising campaign is on YouCaring. I’ll soon have my Amazon Wish List ready to post. Please share my fundraising campaign in your networks. I’ve included my campaign link here, but you can also find me with youcaring.com/jendeerinwaterdapl

Wado!

Jen Deerinwater

Erasure, Hatred, & Data for the Masses/But We Live On

I’ve finally begun pursuing publication for my writing and lo and behold I’m actually finding success. I’ve already had one article published on Autostraddle and am currently working on another for The Establishment. Yay for finally getting off my (disabled) ass and sending my work around! Really it’s that I now have enough stamina to work for a couple of hours most days hence why I’m now able to pursue my dreams of being a published author. It is rather overwhelming though on many fronts. Presently, my current writing project is really draining me psychically, emotionally, and physically.

Without giving away the details of the article I’m writing I’ll just say that I’m digging into a lot of very heavy data on violence against Native women in the US. Most of it isn’t new to me. I’ve read, and shared publicly many times, the studies and statistics. I don’t know a single Indigenous woman that hasn’t suffered multiple forms of violence throughout the course of her life, usually at the hands of a white man. I’m no exception to this. Most sexual assault is intraracial-the predator is the same race as the victim-but we Natives are the exception. Even our men have horrifically high rates of sexual abuse and it’s also predominantly interracial. This should come as no surprise given our history of boarding school abuses and the current abuses our children, women, and men suffer in the foster care and criminal injustice systems.

In the last hour alone I’ve read that more than 1 million  Native women have experienced sexual violence in our lifetime. According to the 2015 US census we only comprise 5.4 million of the total US population. This is including those that self-identified as mixed race and Native. While I don’t believe blood quantum and tribal enrollment are the signs of a true Native (these are the tools of the colonizer after all), but there aren’t 5.4 million federally enrolled tribal members in the US. According to the National Congress of the American Indian we comprise 2.9 million, 0r .9%, of the total US population. If we’re only 2.9 million people and more than 1 million of our women have been victims of sexual violence that basically means that almost all Indigenous women in the US have been assaulted in some fashion at least once in our lifetimes. From what I’ve experienced and the stories I’ve heard, from many Native women, one time in a YEAR is a miracle. If you’re Two Spirit, Queer, Bi, or a Disabled Native woman then your likelihood and occurrences of abuse only increase.

I’ve had to sit for days with this heavy data and the extremely hateful and racist rhetoric of some of our Amerikkkan leaders and try to dissect it in a way that is intelligent, understandable, and gives a heartfelt and impassioned cry to the overwhelming non-Native readers that will see this article so they will hopefully get off their privileged settler asses and be our allies and fight for our rights. Needless to say, it’s eating at me. Last night I went to the anti-police brutality march in Roxbury, MA in solidarity for the Black lives that are being slaughtered by the police, but I also used it as my PTSD wellness break from my work. It says a lot about the state of Amerikkka when a Disabled, Bi, Native woman with chronic pain who can’t stand for long or walk great distances and feels panicky in crowds and near the police goes to a protest and march that has 1,000 plus people and is littered with police so she can get a break from her research. But hey, it’s the land of the free, right?

I can understand how it would be easy for many in America, and abroad, to write off some of what I’ll bring up in my soon-to-be published article. It’s easy to brush aside the hateful and ignorant comments of some people because they behave like jackasses so why would anyone take them seriously? But the thing is, when it comes to us Natives, people do take them seriously and it’s never just one jackass in the spotlight. It’s Victoria’s Secret hypersexualizing Native women and culturally appropriating war bonnets which are sacred to some Plains’ tribes. It’s the white hipsters at music festivals that also wear headdresses or Pharrell Williams, a Black man, who posed with a headdress for British Elle. It’s the Colonial Bros and Nava-hos frat party. It’s me as the only Native in a room full of so called Massachusetts’ progressives who repeatedly ironically ask “You’re Indian? That’s so neat! Will you speak at my child’s school for Thanksgiving?” Meanwhile, I’m Tsalagi. That’s Cherokee to you colonizers. I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. When the pilgrims came, my people were in the Southeast nowhere near present day Massachusetts. It’s the Wampanoags that had to deal with those British wankers.

It’s me at the Boston LGBT health center with me feet literally in stirrups waiting for my Woman Of Color (WOC) doctor to replace my IUD, which I’ve already told her is incredibly painful, and she asks me “So your last name, are you Native American?” It’s the resident at my chronic pain management clinic, who I assume is Southeast Asian, asking me as I’m writhing in pain on the table after having several very large needles stuck in my spine “So you’re Native American? What tribe are you? Tell me all about it!” as if it’s any of his business, my job to teach him my history, or that he’s not taking advantage of his power in that situation and making me feel unsafe, and that it wouldn’t cause him pain and rage when people force their racist and colonizing microaggressions upon him.

And the one that’s really sticking in my craw right now is this: It’s me on a date with a white man who calls me “exoctic” and “Pocahontas” without the slightest irony that he’s the exoctic one because this is our land and that the story of Pocahontas as he knows her is a myth. Pocahontas’ real name was Matoaka. She was approximately 10-12 years old when she had the misfortune of encountering John Smith. She was soon taken captive by the British and “married” to John Rolfe, forced into Christianity, and then dragged across the Atlantic to England where she was paraded around as the so called noble savage until she died at the age of 22. Despite all of this I’m supposed to be turned on, bat my pretty exoctic eyelashes, and be ready to open my red legs when some asshole, racist, colonizing, misogynistic, rape culture loving white man calls me “Pocahontas.”

I could really go on for months, possibly years, about all of this because sadly our abuse and injustices run that deep, but despite all of the colonizer’s best attempts to wipe us out, we’re still here. I’m still here. I, a Bisexual, Disabled, Poor, Fat, Native Woman am still here. We’re hurting, and I’m most definitely hurting, but we’re still here. I may need a lot of PTSD breaks and I may not produce the same amount of work as the colonizer does, but I’ll keep writing. I live on through my ancestors. Our voices are strong and we will be heard. I will be heard.