The water protectors (as they call themselves) who were arrested reported being put into dog kennels, having numbers written on their skin, being strip searched and transported in their underwear.


By Angela Reed

I’ve wanted to be an activist for maybe four years. If you consider signing petitions online, sharing posts on Facebook, and showing up to two rallies in three years activism, then I guess I’m an activist.

But I crave more action.

I fear that things in our world, our nation and our communities won’t change if we don’t act. Of course, things always change in one way or another. That’s what we talk about in Buddhism: the law of impermanence.

I feel these principles somehow become an escape, though; that they give a reason to be passive in the face of crime and injustice. I also fear taking action won’t be enough and that corporate greed, ego-distortion and other low-consciousness obstacles will be too much for our hearts to overcome.

I wonder if fear is what keeps many of us from being pro-active, from standing up for what is right.

When I was first inspired to go to Standing Rock after seeing the conflict around a pipeline up north (the Dakota Access Pipeline), it was difficult to make the decision to go. At first, my intuition said no, don’t go. I have been practicing listening to my intuition for a few years. It’s an important skill that we aren’t taught in school. Some might say it’s the most important and valuable skill to have in life.

I could only guess that maybe it wasn’t the right time yet, maybe that’s why I was getting a “no,” from my intuition. My girls and I had been preparing to move, and the move date was only a couple weeks away.

So I waited. After we got moved in to our new town, the idea slowly presented itself to me again.

On the one hand, I thought this could be an opportunity to start being the activist I have always dreamed of being. But I had so many doubts. I’ve learned that doubts are always there when there is a major leap of faith to make.

During my time away, my daughters would be home mostly by themselves for the first time. I was grateful a neighbor and a couple friends were willing to help check in on them. I also have a lot of faith and trust in my daughters and their abilities. I was still nervous about it, though. I just had to trust that it would turn out alright.

I am often challenged with the choice of listening to my intuition or comparing to others’ choices and habits. How many mothers would leave, out of their own free will, and go 12 hours away from their teen daughters? Isn’t it a mother’s instinct to protect?

But what was I going to do? I was going to help protect our water! Our water is so important! It’s so vital to our life and health. If you take the time to pay attention to how much water you use during one whole day, you’ll see how sacred it truly is. You will see why so many decided to be there with our Native American brothers and sisters.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story or at least parts of it. Originally, the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline was routed near Bismarck, North Dakota. When it was learned that the community’s water might be in danger because of the pipeline, they re-routed it to go through Standing Rock reservation land.

Why are people in Bismarck more important than people living at Standing Rock?! This calling I felt had many layers, not the least of these was standing up for the rights of the marginalized indigenous people that have suffered for centuries at the hands of capitalists. I had to do something to help them.

With all the doubts, fear and conflicting thoughts, I chose to step out in faith. I wasn’t disappointed with my experience there nor with what I learned. My girls were totally fine while I was gone, although one of them got sick and it was difficult being away from her during that.

There was some confusion and discord going on the first day I got to camp. We arrived three days after something awful had happened. There were over 140 people arrested, and it was not a peaceful arrest. The water protectors (as they call themselves) who were arrested reported being put into dog kennels, having numbers written on their skin, being strip searched and transported in their underwear.

It was on that day I realized how real this was. It’s easy to sit on Facebook and read the news coming in. Okay maybe it’s not exactly easy, but it’s definitely different.

We’re just so damned used to having to distance ourselves from the hurt and suffering in the world. It’s too much. It feels overwhelming, and it also feels useless. What can I do? I’m just one small person. I can’t make corporations stop being greedy. I can’t fix the corruption in the government. I can’t give the land back to the people.

Standing on the land at Standing Rock changed that story for me.

Hearing the stories of those arrested and of those oppressed changed something inside me. Being there made me realize that there is something I can and should be doing to help every single day, whether it’s at Standing Rock or at home in Kansas.


Angela Reed is a massage therapist, energy healing practitioner, and full-time mom. Angela began her healing journey many years ago (around 2002). Throughout the journey, she has learned and used many tools such as inner child healing, writing, counseling, meditation, and many others to help heal her past. Having come from a challenging, traumatic childhood had made it difficult to be the person she knew in her heart was possible. Searching for those tools has brought much joy, and of course, there have been many tears and frustrations as well. Awakening again and again to this moment is the simple mantra of her life. Writing was first a healing modality and now has become a passion. Without passion and love where would we be?

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Editor: John Author