In 1786, Benjamin Franklin observed that “Almost every war between the Indians and the whites has been occasioned by some injustice of the latter towards the former.” Although the current conflict at Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakotas is best classified as a peaceful protest, the word “injustice” is being applied at sit-ins and demonstrations of solidarity across the country and around the world. It echoes urgent appeals to respect treaties and agreements now apparently being trespassed by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) across un-ceded Sioux territory, violating, protestors say, sacred burial sites, land and the safety of their drinking water.
Poignantly, a child born recently at the protest site was named ‘Mni Wiconi’, which means “water is sacred” and her name is often repeated there as a greeting.
For those who support the protest but cannot travel to the site, a local benefit is scheduled 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, November 12, at Donegan Hall/Church of the Messiah, 6436 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY, 12572 (donations welcome). The event begins in the morning with a Healing Arts session of Acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Massage, Reflexology, Reiki, and more and runs until 4 p.m. It will be followed by an evening concert at 6:30 p.m. featuring The Akwesasne Traditional Women’s Singers — including the incredible voices of Bear Fox, Aqualila Barenes and Erayna. Standing Rock activist Lyla June Johnston will fly in from Taos with a welcoming message. The Nimham Mountain Singers begin drumming at 6:30 p.m. to open the concert portion and there will also be spoken word and storytelling.
Ulster County’s celebrated singer-songwriter Charles Lyonhart will perform locally for the first time in over a year to support the effort, with accompanist George Quinn.
Phoenix Rising, a Saugerties native now living in Rhinebeck, who is helping organize the fund-raiser to protect water of the Standing Rock area, said “We’ve been pretty distressed. We have a connection to the Lakota people and felt the need to do something. Well, we can’t go out there but we can do a benefit. We started reaching out to people and 27 local health practitioners are donating their time in two hour blocks to provide healing services and massage. Folks are looking for a way to support this important cause and local businesses have been really incredible with donations for the silent auction with products, certificates and so on. Musicians are coming all the way from Akwesasne.”
Suggested donation is $20 per person. For more information call 845- 399-7081. The Arts EmPOWERment Project, Inc. (a 501c3 organization) is the acting fiscal sponsor for the event.