Stories From California

Blizzards, Road Blocks and Water Protectors


"Create those spaces and explore those questions:
What it means to have a dwindling amount of resources to exploit, and an ever growing population that has more needs and are learning to expect those needs to be met, when we know this is not possible"
Johnnie Aseron, Lakota Elder at Standing Rock Camp, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL


This year one of the highlights of my reporter life came late - with the assignment to go to Standing Rock in North Dakota to tell stories from the camp of water protectors on a Sioux reservation. I landed in a blizzard and almost lost hope to ever make it to the tents along the Cannonball and Missouri rivers. It took the selfless help of several strangers to make this story happen. From the guys getting my car out of the snow and the lady sharing her hand warmers with me to Mixay Lay Vongnarath, a gentle soul who took me under his wings and to the camp. He also 

introduced me to young water protectors and to the Lakota elder Johnnie Aseron. Johnnie spent a few years in Frankfurt and greeted me in perfect German. He was very interested in hearing why the Germans want to learn more about the water protectors. He asked them to create spaces where the facts of dwindling resources and the growing population will be discussed. Standing Rock is such a space and unintended role model. It was the most inspiring thing fo me to see how people of all generations and backgrounds join forces to protect water, land and air.

Standing Rock is about much more than a pipeline. In a year that might look like greed, war and divisiveness dominate the world, spending time there, I felt the strong currents of community, compassion, love of nature and social justice that I hope will dominate the news in 2017. I will sure do my part to make it happen.

link to German story about Standing Rock, Deutschlandradio

The road of flags at Standing Rock Camp: 


Mixay Lay Vongnarath, activist for social and environmental justice from Arkansas and my trusted driver

StandingRock LaySmall

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