National News

The direct action of prayer at Standing Rock : an interview with Elin Dahal


Elin Dahal, a sustainability food and farming major at UMass, joined WMUA News for a live interview about his experience at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Oceti Sakowin, which is the camp I was staying at, means Seven Sacred Council Fires. It’s called that because there are seven tribes that make up the Sioux nation and all seven tribes were present there. This is the first time in 300 years that they’ve all met, Dahal tells Dalante Castle and Lucy Martirosyan.

“This is the largest gathering of Indigenous people in recorded history, and not western colonial memory, but in Indigenous memory. It’s really historical what’s happening out there,” says Dahal.

The whole site was grounded in prayer and centered in Lakota values, recalls Dahal.

“Media’s not allowed in the camp because it’s a prayer site…it’s not just police and [water protectors], it’s this really beautiful thing.” He recalls that every meeting started with prayer, burning of sage or offering of tobacco and every meeting ended in prayer.

Prayer was a form of direct action at Standing Rock.

“We’d hold prayer circles to kill the black snake, which is a reference to an old Lakota prophecy, of a black snake coming onto to the land and being the end of all life. It’s crazy because there’s literally a black snake coming onto the land: the pipeline.”


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