In honor of the Native Nations March in Washington, D.C. today, we wanted to share with you the perspective of Kayson, a Lakota teenager living on the Cheyenne River Reservation whom we have been fortunate to know since we began our partnership on the Reservation.
Kayson spent the entire fall and winter of 2016 on the Standing Rock Reservation, serving as a water protector and resisting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In those months, he experienced the joy of different indigenous nations from across the globe coming together juxtaposed with the brutality of people driven by greed and destruction.
During a recent trip to the Reservation in late February, we asked Kayson to share his thoughts on what living at camp was like, how it changed him, and what's next for him as a Lakota youth.
In a ceremony later this year, Kayson will be honored and given a Lakota name, which, fittingly, translates to "Rides on the Enemy Without Fear."
the feeling of camp -
it was a feeling of welcoming, and the people were so nice to each other.
i was there when the camp was still young.
i was a boy then, and now i'm a man.
i learned the ways of my religion and that's Lakota.
i rode horses there. i rode with the riders i call brothers now.
we are all in this fight together. we have to fight for what's right.
i've met so many different tribes. it was the best feeling i had in a long time -
like the air was filled with joy
and the people would enjoy the ways of many different tribes.
there were round dances and singing contests and volleyball and basketball.
i was happy for my people because the joy they had was brought too on that day of oct. 27th**:
it was a hard day that i was riding with my brothers to fight the black snake.
i watched the cops hurting my people.
they showed no fear against my people, and i was a little scared.
they used concussion grenades against us, had weapons.
we had no weapons, we were unarmed.
that did not matter to them.
i was there.
i watched the people getting hurt by the police.
then my brother told us to go with him, so we did the buffalo run and we herded those buffalo.
we heard the screams of joy from our people, we gave them hope and they did not give up.
they fought hard that day.
i'm proud to be Lakota.
i'm proud of my people that fought with us that day.
my next fight is with the kxl pipeline.
that'll be in bridger, SD.
i've been trained for this, so now I'm ready for that fight
and i wanna bring as many people to fight with us.
we stood with standing rock. now it's time to stand with cheyenne river.
that's what we gotta do.
i am a protector of mother earth. it's my calling to do so.
i'll have my brothers next to me fighting this pipeline.
i thank you guys for the support and hopefully we will see you there.
STAY INFORMED. Learn more about the Native Nations Rise March and its aims here and here. • You can follow the march and subsequent actions by following the hashtags #NativeNationsRise, #NativeNationsMarch, #IndigenousRising, #NoDAPL and #WaterIsLife on social media. • Read the latest news about the Dakota Access Pipeline here.
TAKE ACTION. Learn how your members of Congress have voted on issues that affect Native Americans -- and encourage them to support indigenous rights with upcoming legislation -- here.
VOLUNTEER WITH SIMPLY SMILES. You can meet the amazing Lakota youth that we support on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Click on the button below to learn more and get started!
Header photo: © 2016, Rob Wilson Photography