When Two Worlds Become One / by Thomas Lopez

by Jacquelyn Córdova

Standing Rock - The Catalyst for Change

“What are you doing now that Standing Rock is over?”...a question I’ve heard countless times since camp was evicted. But if you were at camp, you know it never ended. When we made the decision to “go to Standing Rock” we weren’t going on vacation. We were going to renew and awaken our commitments as being caretakers of Mother Earth and all our relations. We were going for reasons much larger than ourselves.

Since leaving camp, workshops, trainings, and resistance camps have popped up all over the nation to continue standing up to big oil companies. Delegations of indigenous women have traveled worldwide to bring justice for Mother Earth and her Peoples to the forefront of corporate desks, and communities around the world have started to become more vocal about the issues they see in their backyards.

But, “will we have to fight forever?”... is another question I’ve heard since being out of camp. Will we have to put our bodies on the line, feed our funds into the privatized prison systems when we bail our friends and families out of jail… will we have to make signs and banners and t-shirts stating our opinions forever? When will “the movement” be normalized? “When will treating the earth in a respectful manner, be the world’s way of life again?”... and “is there an end to this battle?”

I don’t know how, what, when, where, or why, but I do know that yes, there is an end to this battle because balance is always restored.

Earth Mother Protection Movement

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This past year, members of the International Indigenous Youth Council, Seeding Sovereignty, and Honor the Earth, were invited to help envision and take part of a program that unites us through what we already are, not something we have to be. A program that was once called the “Oceti Sakowin Youth Water Protector Program” has evolved into the Earth Mother Protection Movement: A movement that unites traditional indigenous knowledge with today's most advanced technological trainings, to create earth monitoring systems that help heal our communities and the earth on which we live.

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This Native created and led program recognizes, through the teachings of the medicine wheel, that each color and culture of two-leggeds is equally crucial to creating and maintaining the sacred balance in which we all grow and thrive. That each People has a set of knowledge they understand comes from Creator which made them who and what they are, and that those unique sets of knowledge are not outdated musings of the past, but medicine for a world in need.

This program honors 4 components:

  • Elder to Youth Knowledge Transfers

  • Youth Leadership Training Programs

  • Protection of Sacred Sites

  • The Elements: A Sensor Installation and Training Program. Learn more about each part in the short video here.

These elements, when combined and experienced alongside each other have helped strengthen my faith that, yes, this battle will end, and it doesn’t just have to be a fight. It can be fun. It can be full of learning about our ways, it can be healing, it can be educational, and most importantly, it can be US. It can be Indigenized. We don’t have to step out of ourselves any longer to live in two worlds. We have to accept that we all live in one world and we have to carry our values with us and live them everyday wherever we are.   

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Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Education

This is more than just a program, it’s a vision. Arriving at camp didn’t feel like going somewhere new, it felt like coming home and we didn’t know everyone, but we were family. Our ancestors knew the world was going to change, but that didn’t mean we had less of a responsibility to be caretakers of mother earth. This battle has been fought by Indigenous peoples of all races and colors, speaking many unique languages from around the globe for centuries. It is time we fight this battle in a different way than what the dominant western society wants us to. In a way that makes our ancestors proud. In a way that unites us through who we are, instead of something that we have to be.

We need something to be excited about. Something to help us get up every morning with purpose. Standing Rock showed us what we would die for, but now we need reasons to live.

We need to shift into holding traditional knowledge to the same degree of importance of Western Science. We need individuals, communities, policy makers, and institutions to recognize and uphold Indigenous earth wisdom for what it is: an advanced knowledge system.

We are not here to be looked down on. We are not here to be seen as people of the past whose ways of life have been deemed outdated. We are here. Our knowledge is alive. And we are thriving. This is only the beginning.

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For more information, to stay updated, and to become involved follow Sacred Healing Circle on social media: Facebook & Instagram @sacredhealingcirlce. If you’d like to support the Earth Mother Protection Program through a monetary contribution, you can donate to the program here.

To bring this program to your community, send an email to sacredhealingcircleinfo@gmail.com