Last year at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, representatives of Native tribes, as well as environmentalists and activists from across the world, came together to stand for Mother Earth and fight against corporate terrorism. And while the pipeline’s construction was approved by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in January, for many—both at the camps or watching in the media—it was the most momentous movement they had witnessed.
This past month, from September 18 to 24, hundreds gathered once again at the Standing Rock Reservation. This time it was for the Mní Wičoni Healing Gathering. “Mní Wičoni,” which became the call to action for the Standing Rock movement, roughly translates to “Water is Life” in the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota languages. Water Protectors, allies and supporters came together for healing, ceremony, reflection, strategizing, planning and celebration.
“You need to be able to share your struggle with the people that stood beside you,” said Cheryl Angel, a Sicangu Lakota elder who was in attendance. “The trauma that we experienced over the past year was so intense and healing is necessary to move on. We wanted to find an opportunity for those who participated to come back.”
Ayşe Gürsöz is a producer, photographer and digital storyteller. She is also a New Economies fellow with the Media Consortium. At Standing Rock, Ayse worked with Al Jazeera’s AJ+ Real Time news team to co-launch Indigenous Rising Media, an Indigenous-led media collective in collaboration with the Indigenous Environmental Network. Currently, she works with the Rainforest Action Network’s Climate and Energy program.