Every Day Is Just Another Day

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Standing Rock protectors blasted by water cannons. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters

 On Thursday the besieged water protectors at Standing Rock marked a dissonant Thanksgiving - or, to many Native Americans, a Thankstaking, NoThanksNoGiving or National Day of Mourning - full of bitter ironies. As Americans went about the  gluttonous, oblivious business of the day, best if surreally personified by a football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins (sic), the Sioux and their supporters were simultaneously mourning losses recent and ancient, vowing ongoing defiance, and facing off against brutal riot police for the crime of seeking to protect their own land and water, long ago stolen from them.

But the holiday also highlighted growing support for their fight. In honor of the questionable holiday, a visiting delegation of chefs, supporters and celebrities including Jane Fonda came to serve 500 meals - an action alternately derided as “the narrative (of) ‘Oh, we want to help the poor Indians on Thanksgiving of all days'” or celebrated as marking "a new era in American history when the rights and sovereignty of indigenous people are defended." Seeking to mend the divisions, one supporter advises, "If you're having trouble with the thanks, focus on the giving."

And the support extends far beyond the day. Several tiny houses have begun arriving for use by longtime campers, thousands of veterans plan a Standing Rock day of action for next week, a local public radio station in Little Eagle dubbed the “Lodge of Good Voices” will broadcast Sunday's benefit concert featuring Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, the clothing company Patagonia has said it will donate its Black Friday profits to environmental groups, supporters are helping meet vital needs via Standing Rock's supply list and Amazon wish list, and despite what is largely mainstream media's indifference, many follow developments with Twitter and Unicorn Riot updates. 

Above all, those at Standing Rock insist, "We are still here, united in water." Even on a conflicted Thanksgiving, says one water protector, “It’s a day to remember what the real story is and acknowledge that we’re still here, and our ancestors fought and died for us to be here.” Today as always, family and what it represents of the Native American past remains key, says Dave Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council. “Every day is just another day,” he says. “We just have to keep moving forward, and fight for our rights.”

W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions


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back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

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