I arrived in Williamsburg, Iowa on Thursday, April 13th at Little Creek Camp.
The camp, created by an Iowa water protector named Christine Nobiss on February 26th, was formed to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa, which currently has several eminent domain cases against the pipeline hovering around the legal system.
Although the pipeline is in service and oil is flowing, there’s still a small chance of it being shut down if Judges rule in favor of aggrieved landowners in Iowa, who want the pipes dug up from their land that was improperly seized using eminent domain—you know, so a greedy oil company can make a few more billion dollars by exporting oil to China.
But what struck me immediately was the fact that Little Creek was not simply a direct-action camp against DAPL. You see, I had only planned on stopping by Thursday afternoon for a few hours, and then going to the University of Iowa, where I was set to deliver a speech on my reporting from Standing Rock, Flint, and beyond.
I toured the camp, did a livestream, and than decided to do something I never got the chance to do at Standing Rock.
A wonderful water protector and reflexologist named T brought me into the healing tent, hoisted up my feet, lathered them up with coconut oil, and started pressing down on the mine field of tight spots which I didn’t realize were connected to various parts of the body.
The feet must have my soul by the balls—within 5 minutes, T had me unbearing my soul about the mountain of stress I’ve been feeling, the highs and lows of life (it’s not all rainbows and livestreams), and the genuine struggle to dedicate everything I have to the mission of exposing corruption and injustice while simultaneously trying to maintain a personal life, a semblance of balance, and physical and mental health.
“Have you ever thought about slowing down a little and staying at a place like this?” she asked.
In a split second, I realized staying at camp as a water protector rather than a journalist was something I not only wanted to do—I needed to.
I try not to complain often about personal stuff—at least not publicly— but the truth is: this line of work beats the shit out of you mentally and physically. It’s not a punch-in/punch-out kind of gig.
If you saw the amount of messages, texts, and smoke signals I get on a daily basis—many of them nasty or in your face—you might go queasy. Often times, I feel the weight of the movement on my shoulders.
There’s been little time for family, friends, dating, or tending to my own physical needs.
And if I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t always handled it well. We all have our strengths and weaknesses—and for me, saying the word NO belongs in the latter category.
That limitation caused me to overextend myself to the point of mental and physical exhaustion—and now a physical injury to my back.
The truth is, I DON’T WANT TO SAY NO. If it were up to me, I’d have wings, and would be able to immediately get to any city or state where good people are getting fucked by their government and the United Corporations of America.
But alas, I don’t. And after six days at Little Creek Camp, and several powerful healing sessions and conversations later, I realize that’s a good thing.
I’m no good to the progressive movement or independent journalism if I’m not good to myself.
So, what was that whole ramble about my personal strife for?
To show you that there are realizations like this—featuring personal growth, introspection, embracing living off the land over the consumer world—happening every day, at water protector camps popping up all over the country.
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Florida, Oklahoma, South Dakota—and these are just the ones I know about.
You’re probably unaware of this because the corporate media stooges donning makeup would sooner report on the wall in front of them than inform the public of anti-government corruption and environmental genocide camps popping up throughout the land.
“I created this camp because I don’t see a future for us, for my children, and particularly people living in spirit poverty,” Christine Nobiss told me. “I find that scary, but the Standing Rock movement has helped me overcome this fear and inspired me to know I can make a difference.”
Nobiss went on to talk about the struggle to get attention for the Iowa section of DAPL.
“Knowing that the pipeline has been opposed in Iowa for nearly 3 years was significant for me—not just as a local Iowan but as an indigenous person—where I can see the connection between Standing Rock and Iowa as being very powerful. Iowa has not received even close to the amount of financial backing and media attention needed to fight the pipeline here.”
She concluded by noting that her struggle breaking through at Standing Rock played a key role in creating Little Creek.
“Every time I went up to Standing Rock, I would work on communicating and networking and getting them on board with what was going on in Iowa, however, I was largely unsuccessful in that endeavor.”
I had the honor of being part of the circle as a new sacred fire was built yesterday. The crisp air of the morning woods funneled up my nose and into my lungs as I, for once, was in the present moment with no sign of my microphone or Twitter.
Seeing the passion deep in indigenous people’s eyes and flowing from their singing voices was powerful. Seeing, up close, the death of one fire and birth of a new—and how it symbolizes something much deeper than just flames—was very moving.
Most of all, getting away from the daily grind of injustice, corruption, and idolization of profits and power, and immersing myself into the natural world of water, land, connection, and customs was something I’ll never forget.
And if you can experience it for yourself, I’d recommend it.
To Donate Food, Books, School Supplies: Little Creek 1904 F52 Trail, Williamsburg IA 52361
To Come, GPS: 1904 C.O. Highway F52
DONATE TO HELP TATM COVER CAMPS LIKE LITTLE CREEK SO WE CAN FIND THE NEXT STANDING ROCK WHILE THERE’S STILL TIME TO STOP THE INJUSTICE.
Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird