Losing Track

cn: reference to sexual assault, so in the event that you want to skip it, here’s a pretty picture of one of the beaches I like to visit:


I tried to keep track.

All the times

I’d believed







How many times

I was wrong.


Filed under poetry, Social Issues


With every touch

As they explored my body,

I discovered


I lost

A little more

Of myself.


Filed under poetry, Social Issues

Educating Our Families About Standing Rock

My sister, Rachael, co-authored this article with me. She is a deeply thoughtful person who is also an educator and a mother. She loves gardening, biking, and being engaged with this world. I might be the elder, but I am often the student at her knee.

I had been following what was happening in Standing Rock and looking for ways to get involved when I realized that some of these ways might involve my children…and that I had not discussed anything with them. At first, I simply began by asking whether Standing Rock, Cannonball, or DAPL meant anything to either of them. Nope. Curiosity getting the better of them, I gave them the briefest summary: mostly Native Americans are defending the land and water against a company who wants to put an oil pipeline in and potentially poison the drinking water of millions of people. That was it for a few days.

In the meantime, I began heavily researching resources to both better educate myself and my children. I called my sister, as she is an educator, and I could feel that this was more than a conversation with my children. We talked about what creating curriculum looks like and what we would need to do to engage our families. She and I started a furious bi-coastal sharing of resources we were finding that would be good for introducing children to the issues and helping them (and all of us) to feel engaged.

When I went to the library, I was directed to the reference librarians who immediately began working on getting age-appropriate books on all aspects of the situation. When those came in, I asked my daughters which ones they’d like to read? My youngest selected The Grandchildren of the Lakota by Lavera Rose (a Lakota author) and my eldest selected Fuel Under Fire, Petroleum and its Perils by Margaret J. Goldstein. I read about half of the first one. They were fully engaged. I reminded them that these were the very people who were working to protect the water. The opening of Fuel Under Fire describes an oil pipeline bursting and spilling in 2013 in Arkansas. This definitely had their attention – and again, I pointed out that this is exactly what the Lakota and so many others are trying to prevent.

Sometime in the following days, we listened to Politically Re-Active’s podcast in which they interviewed writer Ben-Alex Dupris, who was at Standing Rock. At the end of the interview, he called on the hosts to join him at Standing Rock, at which point, becoming engaged became a possibility to my children. We have been exploring and discussing this as a family, both on a local level, getting involved in issues in our area as well as examining their own indigenous background, and on a national level of what the actual details would be of traveling to and being at Standing Rock ourselves.

In short, our path has begun. How you may wish to start this conversation with  your children is up to you, but it is definitely possible and should not be daunting. I know I felt overwhelmed by the amount of background information I felt I needed to catch both myself and my children up on before getting to the basics of what is happening in Standing Rock. Doing just a little bit of research helped me get over that and uncomplicated things for me. We will all fill in details as time goes on. The point is to start.

Below is a list of resources my sister and I have compiled thus far. It is certainly not exhaustive, but we hope that it gives you a place to start. We both were surprised by how quickly we and our children became vested in participating, in whatever way presented itself to our families, be it preparing for and attending a local protest, researching what financial assistance we could give to the water protectors, or helping our children’s teachers to present Thanksgiving in a respectful manner.

Standing Rock Timeline
A rough timeline of events up until the beginning of September 2016.

The temporary request by the Department of Justice & Army Corps of Engineers to stop construction (after a federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe request for an injunction against DAPL)

When the order came to halt construction on 20 miles of each side of Lake Oahe.

Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II testified at the UN against DAPL.

Historians, archaeologists, and museum experts petition the halt of DAPL.

UN asking for DAPL construction to be halted.

Federal Agencies seeking input on decision making following DAPL.

The increasingly militaristic response to the water protectors.

Other Resources
Setting up a school at Standing Rock.

Excellent article from a non-native in North Dakota with a number of useful resources/links about the role that non-natives can/should play.

Teaching Tolerance‘s article with guidelines on how to connect students to Standing Rock (more focused on older students).

American Indians in Children’s Literature: Established in 2006, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. This is a fabulous resource. Seriously.

A map of the Tribal Nations in both Canada and the United States, as they existed pre-contact.

Columbus Day Resources
Columbus Day resources for teachers and families – how to talk about the truth surrounding Columbus with children.

Teaching Tolerance provides good ideas, and more resources, on how to reframe the story of Columbus for students.

An article from CNN discussing the growing change from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

An important article about Indigenous People’s Day from the San Francisco Chronicle about recognizing both past and present for indigenous peoples.

Thanksgiving Resources
Many Hoops: an amazing resource co-created by a Native American and a descendant of the Pilgrims for talking authentically about Thanksgiving in a way that can celebrate all peoples.

Teaching Tolerance‘s sample lesson on Thanksgiving with a number of links to other resources.

National Museum of the American Indian‘s guide on teaching about Thanksgiving. This is another excellent resource with ideas for older students.

Facebook pages we are following:

Sacred Stone Camp

Red Warrior Camp

Indian Country Today Media Network

Indigenous Life Movement

Books we got from the library for our children:

Grandchildren of the Lakota by Lavera Rose – This  book covers much of the history that we want our children to understand in regards the the Standing Rock community and their experience as Americans, as well as their interactions with, and treatment by, government.  Pictures on every page. It is kind of long, but engaging, so can work for most ages.  *note* This book is OUT OF PRINT. Our experience, however, was that your library can order it for you. There may be a small expense for this.

The Lakota Hoop Dancer by Jacqueline Left Hand Bull & Susanne Haldane.
A longer, nonfiction book with a lot of (interesting) text, pictures on every page.
This book is about a hoop dancer,  Kevin Locke, a modern member of the Lakota Nation who lives on the Standing Rock Reservation. This book may be good for younger and older children, especially those interested in music. This book also discusses the core beliefs of the Lakota people, including their connection to the land they live on.

The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living by Joseph M Marshall III
Written by a Lakota man, this is a collection of Lakota stories passed on by the oral tradition, and specifically stories that have guided and shaped the author. I have not read all of them – but they are certainly interesting for adults and older children for sure. I’d need to read more to know if the younger ones would be into this book.

S.D Nelson has written many books that share the stories and traditions of the  Lakota. His books are ideal for the youngest of readers – some even ideal for toddlers. Many of the books capture a more historical way of life for the Lakota People. His illustrations are inspired by detailed study of historical Lakota art. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Fuel Under Fire, Petroleum and its Perils by Margaret J. Goldstein. A very engaging, but with fewer pictures this is for older elementary children. Not oil positive.

The Story of Oil, How it Changed the World by Katherine Mclean Brevard. A history of the oil industry that discusses what oil has given society, the destruction it has wrought and where we might go in the future. For middle to older elementary students.

The Sioux by Gwen Remington – Long and detailed. For older children, or used as reference by parent/teacher. *note* Trying to keep our sources native, as far as I can tell, Gwen Remington is not. This is written from a non-native perspective. We recommend looking for other sources if you use this.

Oil by Christin Ditchfield. Lots of pictures and simpler. Oil positive, just briefly touching on some problems caused by oil.

Heroes of the Environment, True Stories of People who are Helping to Protect our Planet by Harriet Rohmer. Comprehensive environmentalism. Not oil specific, but there are chapters about bringing solar to Indian Country and another about speaking out against a Big Oil company.

**A Note on Twitter & other media outlets: We fully admit that information is flowing on Twitter and that this is not where either my sister or I are. NoDAPL is a popular hashtag (*cough* according to my source *cough*). Please do your own research. Feel free to share where you’re getting your news with us.



Filed under Children, Parents, Social Issues