Developing Resistance Though Culture at Standing Rock

This series of short videos features a few of the Indigenous art and cultural movement building strategies that were being implemented at Standing Rock. The end video encapsulates the results of the independent community based organizing at Oceti Sakowin. There were many such examples of our culture being honed and weaponized happening all throughout this movement. A critical component to our movement success tactically was going to be developing our Horse Medicine early on. These videos attempt to humbly tell a very small part of that story.

In Indigenous culture, skills are passed down from one generation to the next and this particular “extreme sport” is mad deep in family tradition all throughout our continent. Re-engaging muscle memory by repeatedly flexing collective riding skills under direct threat proved to be quite useful and was also a blatant middle finger to our oppressors as every aspect of camp was heavily surveilled.

These skills based competitions like Indian Relay, also build a healthy solidarity between riders and tribes. This helps the movement in many aspects strategically but more importantly, this instills self governance to include organizing and also overcoming any potential beefs between themselves, historical or otherwise.

After many community meetings, local efforts, and donations a horse track east of Oceti Sakowin was cut by a Standing Rock local and his tractor. The only hurdle left was circumventing the Indigenous nonprofit branding media at camp to announce to the competitions to the rest of the world. The two subsequent videos were edited and coproduced with a Standing Rock local drone pilot.

The footage featuring the running of horses from all generations in unison on the plains was a magical process to edit. This particular video was one of the first that showcased the wielding of drone technology to organize which became extremely instrumental in the resistance at Standing Rock.

The response to these videos was overwhelming and metrics showed both videos were viewed almost 50,000 times each which is unheard of and very much considered a direct threat to the media network and narrative the Indigenous non-profits had control over.

The first film was coupled with a track from Supaman and was such a perfect fit that it was run back again for a second time. The second video featured the large groomed Mni Wiconi horse track and the visible explosion in the population of Oceti Sakowin.

During the first Horsepersonship Day, a radio call reported that private military contractors released their attack dogs on unarmed Water Protectors a mile north of Oceti Sakowin camp. A decision was made to keep the youth and families at the track in a position to cross the river to tribal land where they would be safe should the violence escalate further south.

Afterwards it was contemplated if more of our horses could have helped the situation north of camp. Perhaps. But there was belief in the abilities of the Crow Creek Boys and other experienced riders who were already up there to protect our people as needed. Unnecessarily exposing the terror and violence of the state to innocent young Indigenous lives was never going to be one of the options on the table. I stand behind this decision to this day – if you were there and you have a differing opinion on this, we can take a walk….

The riders that came from all over Turtle Island to build medicine took over Mni Wiconi horse track and the organization of their community the way its always has been and the way it needs to continue to be….organic and free of corporations, the government and any other colonial agenda.

S/S/O to all the two and four-legged involved in the development of this side of our movement and allowing a witness to briefly glimpse and share some of its beauty.


This is a video except of the Horsemanship Day portion from the video,
Standing Rock: For All Generations –

Posted on April 26, 2020 in Cultural, Standing Rock

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