- Depart just before 9:00am; arrive Washington DC around 1:00pm.
- Grab lunch. Leave our luggage at where we would be staying.
- Head to the office of Al Franken, who is one of Minnesota's U.S. senators and sits on the Indian Affairs Committee. We met with his aide for about 10-15 minutes and spoke with him about Standing Rock and the need for the federal government to receive *consent* (not just have consultation) before proceeding with the construction of pipelines that would cross/desecrate indigenous land.
- Head to the National Cathedral for the interfaith prayer service. A video of the 3-hour service is here: youtu.be/r7QCD8Ir-Lo
Friday, March 10
- Head to breakfast at First Trinity Lutheran Church, with brief program about Standing With Standing Rock before the march
- 10:00am-1:00pm Native Nations Rise/Stand With Standing Rock March & Rally. (This was a "permitted" march, meaning that there would be minimal disruption to the city and its traffic, and cops would be prepared ahead of time to redirect traffic.)
- FREE TIME the rest of the day
- We had lunch near where the rally was held at the end of the march. Then we walked to the Mall in front of the Pentagon where the indigenous community had set up (with permits) large tipis for events, ceremony, presentations, etc.
- We also walked to the new African American Museum nearby and took photos of ourselves in front of it. Tickets currently go on sale--and sell out--3 months ahead of time.
- Then those of us who were wiped out went back to where we were staying, in order to rest for a couple of hours (including me). Others went onto the American Indian Museum nearby.
- A few of us went to dinner at the Langston-Hughes inspired restaurant/bookstore/bar Busboys & Poets. Others got together with friends or just stayed put.
Saturday, March 11
- Depart Washington DC at 5:30 am to catch our flight home
During the interfaith worship service on Thursday night, it was a challenge for me to be still. There were a lot of speakers; sometimes it was hard to hear because of the enormous space that is the National Cathedral--lots of echoes, and using a microphone didn't always help. And yet, to be in that holy space--holy because of our purpose together and because of the people gathered--with hundreds if not more than a thousand people gathered for the purpose of inward preparation for the next day's march... to hear from the father of Dallas Goldtooth, and the young adults, and the elders, and the women... about the history of Standing Rock, the vision of the people, spiritual well-being of the wider community... the drumming, the singing, the Native flute, the burning of the sage...
The most powerful part of the evening for me, personally, was when four elders--some of whom were dressed in clergy garb--and two young people carrying candles approached the center of the worship space. (This is at the 2-hour 10-minute mark of the video, I think.) The elders lit the sage sticks they were carrying from the candles and walked around the entire room, allowing the 1000 worshipers to bless themselves with the smoke of the burning sage ("smudging")... The last time I received such a blessing was maybe 15 years ago, when I was in Milwaukee... It took about 20 minutes for the 4 elders to smudge everyone, and it was all done in silence and with great respect. To me, it felt like an affirmation that we can practice abundance and generosity of Spirit; that there is enough time for everyone to receive a Blessing; that there is no need to rush.
Our indigenous colleague was also part of the clergy procession during that interfaith worship, and she likely knew many of the indigenous speakers. She seemed very peaceful and at rest... whereas I myself could not help but stiffen up each time I saw the outward Christian symbols that Friends traditionally don't use: lit candles; large wooden crosses; tall steeples; prayer books and hymnals... Being both from a Jewish family and worshiping now among Friends, these customs unsettled me for a while...
And then a few minutes later, we were being smudged in the Holy Silence.
I'm glad I went, despite it being such a short trip. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support.