Menachem Ariel’s Perspective on Standing Rock

Here is what I wrote after we went to the site [burial ground being dug up to lay pipeline]. I was walking back and dictated this to my beloved and she typed it up for me.

Water is Life

The sky is overcast and cloudy, filled with rain. The feeling on the ground is mournful and filled with prayer. There is a ceremony happening where the bulldozers have illegally dug up ancient burial grounds. In the center are chiefs with highly respected and honored women of the tribe. Men with fox skin hats, many faces painted, eagle heads attached to what appears to be a walking stick, but shorter, one chief holds a spear. There are prayers and song and peace pipes. We hold hands and stomp our feet during the songs. Afterward, I walk along the path the bulldozers have taken up a hill. There are maybe five of us in four different groups. As I’m walking alone, I’m reminded of the attitude here in the camp and at this site. There are to be no pictures, no filming; this is a sacred burial ground.

As I walk along, I try to think how I can connect to my Indian brothers and sisters here. They are connected to Mother Earth and ancestors who have been uncovered along this path. For us Jews, we have only Israel….yet we are responsible for everyone on Mother Earth. I am reminded how much bigger our role in life is. I am reminded of how some want to eradicate our ancestral heritage. I’m reminded of the story of Joseph, who always referred to himself as a Hebrew, and because of that his bones were to be returned to our homeland. Compared to Moses, who had referred to himself as an Egyptian, and was forbidden to enter the land. How the association of land and heart are harmonious. As I walk along, I think of how Native Americans have this attitude that I as a white man, will never understand, this relationship between man and a piece of the earth. Even though I’ve traveled 800 miles and some have threatened me, telling me I don’t belong, I am thankful I am a Jew. G-d created us to have a thick skin to house a soft and tender heart. I don’t allow these words to affect me in my relationship to my G-d, our Creator.

As I walk along, I hear the thunder of horses, and of warriors yelling, racing toward us. They race ahead and tell two people ahead of me to stop and come back. I continue forward, to the top of the hill; I want to see how extensive the damage is. I didn’t think about it then, but it was odd that they didn’t yell at me to stop, to go back. However, one did approach me. As he was approaching, not yelling with attitude,

I pointed and said I wanted to see the damage done. So he walked along side me and we came to a point where the bones had been uncovered. He pointed to them and said that they had changed color because they had been exposed to air. He asked me to throw some tobacco on them, which I respectfully did. He informed me that they had tried to cover it up; then laid the pipe and covered it up.

I added water – we’ve been asked to pour water on Mother Earth every time we take a drink. In fact, at the ceremony one of the braves from Ogallala Nebraska brought a Mason jar filled with water from their river. He wanted to pour it into the river here to mingle and support the spirit of the river here. The warrior on horseback joined the others and let me continue back at my own pace.

One other thing I’ve noticed about everyone here, that one thing that connects us, is that we hear that inner voice. Torah is extraterrestrial by nature. SETI looks to outer space for intelligent life. Torah is the extraterrestrial of inner space – we don’t need SETI to find it, to hear it, to feel it. That Voice resonates between me and that warrior; that is why I was treated differently. Just like yesterday, even though I was told that I would never meet the Elders or Medicine Men or shake their hands, the Elder or Medicine Man gave a speech, then came over and shook my hand.

Even though the Native Americans consistently treat me as though I can’t understand how this affects them… I just have to nod and smile and continue to support and stand with them.

~Menachem Ariel

Standing Rock Water Protectors Camp

September 9, 2016