As I write this, as I wake, as I fall asleep, as I eat, as I work, as I wonder what the week ahead will bring . . . there is singing. Singing and drumming around a sacred fire here in camp. This fire never goes out. I don’t know when it was lit but it’s been burning for months, at least. Our Two Spirit camp is traditional and has a sacred fire, as well. It never goes out, you may not smoke or eat near these fires and should behave near them as you might in a church. No smoking near these fires but you can and should offer tobacco. Before meals someone makes a spirit bowl with food for the spirits and ancestors and we all gather around the fire to pray before eating each meal. The singing starts at 7am, it goes until at least 11pm, sometimes past midnight. There is an M.C. whose voice is smooth and comforting and strong. I have no idea how it’s holding up all these hours in this weather. Many people sing throughout the day, but it is the same man speaking every windy, freezing morning. He says, “Wake up! This is not a vacation!” He says things like, “Joy has room in her car for a one-way ride to Bismarck, leaving at 3pm.” And he says, “The snow is coming down but we’re still here, we’re not going anywhere.” Shouts of “Mni Waconi” rise up from the camp periodically throughout the day.
The constant fire, and the constant singing. I will miss these when I leave camp. They’re wildly comforting. They’re also a constant reminder of why we’re all here. This situation can’t last forever. It has to come to a conclusion, a culmination, a crescendo – it has to come to something and we’re all wondering what that will be. The tension is like a drum constantly beating. Steady. There's a rumor that the police are allowed to use live bullets – not rubber ones now (there's a lot of rumors floating around camp and online) and there are thousands of soldiers on the way here to take those bullets in just a few days. Constantly drumming, singing, offering tobacco.