Charmaine White Face: Let the 'Big Spirits' take over at Standing Rock

Law enforcement in North Dakota committed a #NoDAPL assault on November 20, 2016. Photo by Rob Wilson [GoFundMe]

The Elders' request
By Charmaine White Face

In the respectful ways of the Sioux culture, when an elder requests you to do something, you do it. This shows your respect for their wisdom and compassion. This editorial is from a request by elders from both Standing Rock and Pine Ridge Reservations regarding the camp at Cannonball.

This camp started as a spiritual camp whose purpose was to pray for good water for the people. The next step then is to trust that your prayers were heard. You go home and go on with your life knowing that your prayers will be answered. You need to do this so you will be out of the way of whatever the Creator has in mind. You need to step aside and let the “Big Spirits” do whatever They are going to do. You need to get out of the way to let the miracle happen.

In the past 14 years, I have seen this happen many, many times. I'll tell you the most recent example. Last April, 2016, we had a small prayer gathering to ask the Creator to keep all the minerals, oil, Uranium, coal, gold, silver, etc., to keep them in the ground where they belong as they are there for a reason. American and European people and western science doesn't understand that these things are where they are located for a reason that human beings don't necessarily need to know. So we prayed to help Mother Earth to be healthy by keeping all these things in the ground where they belong. We had lunch. Then we went home.

About a month ago, the world wide price for Uranium dropped to $18.75 per pound. It might be even less today. This price is almost half as much as is needed just to dig the Uranium out of the ground. How many mines will not be built because it will be financially impossible to make any money? How many active Uranium mines will have to close because they can't make enough money to operate? How much Uranium will be left in the ground where it belongs?

Our little handful of people praying together last April did not have the ability to change the world wide price, or even to think of such a thing. We trusted that the Creator and the “Big Spirits” heard our prayers, and we went home. We got out of Their way. It is miracles such as this that we have seen for many years so we know that something similar could happen at Cannonball … if the people would go home and get out of the way of the “Big Spirits”. What would happen if all the people went home a prayed for good water in their own areas?

To do this means trusting that your prayers were heard, and not just for good water at Standing Rock, but for good water all over the world. It means having patience to wait for whatever the Creator has in mind. It means trusting that the Maker of innumerable universes is wiser, knows more, sees more, and can accomplish much more than mere human beings. It means being humble in waiting for the answer to your prayers.

Elders who have seen and experienced these miracles, and who give their requests need to be heard. The elders are requesting now that it is time to break camp at Cannonball, go home, and trust that your prayers have been heard. Go on about your lives and let the Creator and the “Big Spirits” answer the prayers. It might not be in a way you thought of, but it will be in a much better way.

Charmaine White Face, age 69, is Oglala Tituwan Oceti Sakowin, a writer and great-grandmother. She can be reached at

Join the Conversation