An award winning filmmaker came to discuss the recent events happening in North and South Dakota known as Standing Rock. On Nov. 2 in Keene State College’s Alumni Center, Fidel Moreno presented to an audience with a viewing of his rough cut documentary, “Solidarity with Standing Rock,” followed by a water ceremony.
This event was hosted by Keene State College’s Global Education Office, Diversity and Multiculturalism Office and Campus Ecology.
Solidarity with Standing Rock-No Dakota Access Pipeline is one of the largest Native American protests in history and is currently happening right now.
These Native Americans established a camp at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota as a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the pipeline and are gathering to raise awareness about what they perceive as a threat to their people’s drinking water and those that rely on the Missouri and Mississippi river for this natural resource.
KSC junior and a member of Campus Ecology Lynne Carrion went to a Standing Rock rally at Harvard University along with other members of the club, including KSC senior Rose Lovett.
At the rally, Carrion and Lovett listened to the indigenous people of Standing Rock discuss “what they are currently experiencing,” and both Carrion and Lovett thought, “Wow, these people need our help right now.” From here, the two reached out to Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism Dottie Morris in hopes that KSC would host a similar event in order to bring this issue to the consciousness of others. Lucky for the students, Morris was looking to do the same.
Carrion, Lovett and Morris were not alone. KSC Director of the Global Education Office Dr. Skye Stephenson wanted to help bring information and knowledge to Keene State College and the Keene Community about the situation at Standing Rock as well.
Stephenson said we must all be aware and understanding of the issues and rights of Native Americans, for they have been treated and continue to be treated in very abusive ways.
Stephenson said that as a whole, we must become aware of the sad truths so that we can begin making a cultural shift that will help bring a more peaceful and environmentally positive future for all of us.
“This movement of sacred water protectors can serve as a model and inspiration to so many other struggles for protection of our lands and waters,” she said.
With this being said, Stephenson reached out to Fidel Moreno, who is Native American and is someone she has “high respect for and has met in several ceremonies” and asked him if it would be possible to host an event on campus regarding this topic.
In response, Moreno said he had just finished a film and would love to take the opportunity to show it to the students, staff, faculty and others in the KSC community.
Stephenson explained that through Moreno’s film, she learned about a community being passionate about protecting their environment and “honoring the nations and peoples who were the original inhabitants of our lands, which many of them call Turtle Island.”
She continued, “I also learned from Fidel’s film that this is the largest Native American gathering in 150 years…that so many different Native American nations from around the hemisphere came to participate and that their practices and focus are on healing and protection.”
Moreno said during his presentation that water is a source of great power, similar to the people at Standing Rock.
“So I put this water out because water absorbs energy. We are three quarters water, the earth is three quarters water, our water drum is three quarters water and our brain is three quarters water. There is a sacred alignment there;water is life,” he said.
As the event came to a close, Sustainibility and Social Justice Coordinator of Antioch University New England Kelly Walsh said, “I learned a lot more about the struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, and heard many inspiring stories from water protectors and allies as they prepare for the long haul and the cold winter. I learned that there are many people at KSC, at Antioch University of New England and in the larger Keene community that care a lot about what’s happening out in North Dakota.”
Following the water ceremony, which was led by Moreno, KSC senior Rose Lovett said she was touched by the personal experiences that Moreno shared.
Lovett said she was also captured by a song of prayer he included, which translated to: “Beauty above me, beauty below me, beauty behind me, beauty before me, beauty all around me.”
Walsh said the turnout was great. “It was even better than we expected. It was standing room only with over 100 people in attendance and we were able to raise approximately $500 to help purchase a winterized tent for medics and healers at Standing Rock,” said Walsh.
Stephenson said similarly, “The group planners had only two weeks to prepare and weren’t sure we could do it in such short time and get the word out. We guessed we would be lucky to have 40 people or so, but never would have thought it would be overflowing with standing room only. It was so powerful to see all the people who came, people of all walks of life and ages, exceeding our wildest expectations.”
She continued, ”Fidel said it was the largest group that had come together to see the film.”
Amber Stocking can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org