Activist Travel: Supporting Standing Rock NoDAPL

Activist Travel: Supporting Standing Rock NoDAPL

Late in Fall of 2016 a few friends drove supplies out to the Standing Rock water protectors. This is a short tale for anyone interested in doing something similar.
Building permanent structures

Got the itch for meaningful travel and have limited time? While traveling to the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Sacred Stone, and Rosebud encampments is not a vacation, it is a trip that will vastly increase your understanding of indigenous rights and environmental oppression through a deeply cultural experience. Whether you’re there for one day of learning or one week of labor, this trip will truly change your life.

Our caravan’s purpose was to bring donations gathered from concerned people in Milwaukee and Oconomowoc, Wisconsin to the frontlines of this historical event. We drove out for two 7-hour days, spent 1.5 days onsite, and hurried back in a surprisingly painless 14-hour roadtrip.

Before You Go to Standing Rock

Read resource pages and donation lists

Prepare yourself. Know what is the latest news, what items are in high demand, and definitely read about the culture of camp.

Rally your friends and family

Collect donations for the camp. You’ll want to pack your car to the brim with things like sub-zero sleeping bags, solar chargers, sturdy tent stakes, construction tools, fresh foods, and so on. Bring more supplies than you use. Folks interested in donating cash can utilize one of the many Go Fund Me accounts, deliver money in-person, or visit the camp websites linked above.

Pack clothes accordingly

…and then some. In mid-November, days were long-sleeve n’ pants with the occasional hat n’ scarf. Nights, however, were freezing and mornings found everything covered in frost. Snowstorms are imminent. Layer up in all your warmest gear!

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Pack enough gear to cover all your personal needs!

Cannot stress this one enough: bring your own water. The shorter your stay, the more self-sufficient you should strive to be. Bring your own food or work a few hours in the kitchen to join mess hall meal times. Bring more warm gear than you think you’ll need. You can always donate it on the way out. Note: Absolutely no weapons, drugs, or alcohol allowed in camp.

Directions to Standing Rock

Coming from the North: Turn south onto Hwy 6 outside of Bismarck, North Dakota. Turn left on ND-24 S. We had heard that cops were stopping people with supplies and confiscating. Obey the speed limit!

Coming from the South: Take either 1806 (coming from the East) or Hwy 6 (coming from the West) straight up until you see the Cannon Ball Pit Stop after ND-24 S

Cannon Ball Pit Stop is the point to decide which camp you will join. Turn right down Bia Route 36 to go to Sacred Stone. There are handmade signs on opposite corners from each other that may be easy to miss.

Choosing a Camp

The three main camps all have different vibes.


Oceti Sakowin Camp is led by elders and is a focused, ceremonial encampment. The orientation does ask that feminine identifying individuals wear long skirts (over your warm layers) while walking around or at least if you’re joining a sacred fire circle. Conversations are mostly hushed and a spirit of prayer in action is encouraged.

Sacred Stone (Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí) camp is on privately owned land and is led by committees (Medical, Financial, Kitchen, etc). There is a generally more relaxed vibe, though still a strong concern for action and cultural attitudes.

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Rosebud is the newest camp with fewer inhabitants at time of posting (November 2016). It is across the river from Oceti Sakowin and houses the Moon Tent, where women are welcomed to hang out during their sacred time (ie menstruation).

While at Camp

During your stay, I would highly recommend starting your visit with an orientation to learn about the historical and all-to-current oppression of Native peoples. At Oceti Sakowin Camp, this orientation is held twice daily. There are also daily direct action trainings, winterization meetings, and so on.

Be useful! Being in the camps is a highly emotional thing. If you’re like me and become overwhelmed by the collision of feelings regarding DAPL, injustices, and hope, then perhaps its best to move slow: pick up garbage, help with the dishes, spend the day learning. If you’re around longer, be sure to dive into duties in the kitchen, construction crew, or even at the artists’ tent.

Making protest art!

Best Time to Go to Standing Rock

Regardless of when you are reading this, there is work to be done. Go earlier to help with preparing for winter Go later to ease the efforts of the defenders during the cold months. Go in the Spring, as the Water Protectors are sticking around for the long run.

This is not a fight that will evaporate into the air after a short burst of energy. With Sacred Stone Camp already a 501c3 and Oceti Sakowin preparing for permanent settlement, you can be assured that there is still time for action. Sooner is better, but it’s never too late.

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Join the battle against corporate power and environmental racism. Stand up for indigenous rights, environmental responsibility, and unity. Stand with Standing Rock.