The Ceremonial Burial of The Longhouse at Standing Rock

On Thor’s day of this week (2/16/2017), we ceremonially burned and buried our Winter home, The Longhouse.

It was a symbolic act full of memories and respect for the structure that shielded us from the deep Winter at Standing Rock. It was a cocoon where we made plans, grew and changed within ourselves, and morphed into the beginnings of our new selves for this coming warm season. I hope that we may be good butterflies this Spring and Summer in honor of the faithfulness and strength the Longhouse gave us as the snow and wind bore down on her protective shell.

We spent every night in the Longhouse from 10/27-2/15. We never slept a night somewhere else. Through all the threats from weather to army Humvees, we were safe within her walls. Much poetry, nourishment, and spiritual ceremonies were held. I video edited, played cards, and even danced. Life was had here in a way that I would not have known to go in search of, but I am so thankful to have lived through.

The Longhouse carried us to every part of the world and let us experience many parts of human history. We had friends from Nepal, England, Nisqually, Papua Guinea, Georgia. and Lakota Nation. We met even more just outside her door. We experienced the arctic winter and when the wood stove got out of control, we were given Jamaican warmth. In the time of the snow melt, we got to eat dinner and play cards over a flooded floor: a room of the sinking titanic. We heard all types of music beyond her walls and we saw flags from all nations flying just off her bow. Our flags were consistently Celtic Nations and Rasta, but in the final days, we flew our port of call out of respect for Cheyenne River who had remained in full force on the Ocheti side of the camps.

We took the skins off earlier in the day and had already transported the major items to our higher ground camp over the past few days. She was reduced to the wood structure and cardboard insulation before burning. I had learned that Inipis are handled similarly after sacred ceremonies are finished. The wooden structure must be burned after the skins removed.

I also saw it as practical in that so much waste is going to landfills and burning burnables is an easy way to limit transport costs and reduce unnecessary strain on the landfills.

At the peak, the flames were 15 feet higher over the structure and it was eventually reduced to smoldering ash. We finished out the night by getting some fresh killed deer and apple sauce from Cheyenne River North and sat by the last burning area of the greatest home I have ever lived in.


*Update to come on our final work at Standing Rock, upcoming projects, and timeline of publishing all the material from Standing Rock.