On the ground at Standing Rock: day two

We are sharing the daily accounts of a 350 Mass Cambridge member and friend who are at Standing Rock providing medical support to water protectors after Standing Rock's eviction yesterday. You can read their perspective here on our blog and on the 350 Mass Facebook page.  

A veteran's perspective

By Susan Labandibar and Robert Master


Setting up the medical aid tent today at a camp just a mile from Oceti Sakowin seemed all too familiar, although it has been over forty years since I waited back at the fire base for corpsman to bring back the wounded. For many of the younger veterans in my group, the scene at Oceti Sakowin might evoke war memories still hauntingly fresh.

One such veteran stopped into the medical tent tonight. Remi Bald Eagle says he has seen the oppressive effects of U.S. government policy from both sides. As a Native American, his civil and human rights were systematically violated by the U.S. government. As a member of the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan, he became aware that the Afghan people were being subjected to the same forms of oppression his people had experienced. Not willing to continue in his role of oppressor, he left the U.S. military after 22 years and became an Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator for the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. Despite years of honorable military service, when his tribe opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, he was once again forced to confront an arrogant US. government that made promises it would not keep.

For Remi Bald Eagle, the return of the veterans to help defend treaty rights and tribal sovereignty over Native American land has restored his pride in being a U.S. Army veteran. And for many veterans who come to Standing Rock, including me, supporting the Sioux in their struggle against Big Oil interests has put them, for once, on the right side of a conflict. And that has been very healing.

We're still deeply immersed in the Oceti Sakowin eviction process. The last chapter of this story has not yet been written. More to come tomorrow.

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