Why veterans asked for forgiveness at Standing Rock
Why I Kneeled Before Standing Rock Elders and Asked For Forgiveness
“We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke … But we’ve come to say that we are sorry.”
By Sarah van Gelder
yesmagazine.orgEverything seemed to be converging on Standing Rock on Dec. 4. Thousands of veterans were scheduled to arrive the next day at this remote, frozen outpost—along with a blizzard. The Army Corps of Engineers had recently ordered the eviction of Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the water protectors’ camps, saying the thousands camped there would have to vacate by Dec. 5. The governor ordered an emergency evacuation, and the county sheriff threatened to issue $1,000 fines to anyone caught delivering food, firewood, and other support needed to keep the camp alive.And it was on the afternoon of Dec. 4 that word arrived: The Obama administration had refused the final permit for the Dakota Access pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers said it would first consider other routes, require an environmental impact statement, and consult with the Sioux tribes. So, at least for the moment, there was celebration: dancing, singing, fireworks.
Reasons for the timing of that announcement are not clear. It might have been because tensions were too high. Perhaps 4,000 veterans joining thousands of Native water protectors and their allies was just too much.
The next day, some veterans participated in a formal “forgiveness ceremony,” which began with an emotional plea to the tribe for forgiveness by former Army Lt. Wesley Clark Jr., son of Gen. Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land.
We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. Then we took still more land and then we took your children and … we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.” Continue Reading Next Page..