The bare minimum thing we can do is deliver some of the surplus donations to various reservations will we be passing close by on our way south, out of the coldest weather ever.
After traveling miles and miles and miles yesterday, seeing no one except a few on-coming vehicles and scatterings of cows and even fewer horses, no gas stations, no stores, not even a post office, through stark land bordered by fences with not a tree or bush in site, we come to a tiny village about 1/2 mile off the road.
There's a small white church, topped by a cross with a Jewish star hanging below, on one side of the village and a squat red building that must be the community center, and 2 short rows of maybe 5 homes each lane. We are in awe, for we see no possible way these people can support themselves, no industry, no business, no town center, no school, nothing.
We find a womon in one of the homes where smoke is pouring high up into the cold sky, who is happy to see us and accept the donations. We pile bags onto her little porch, refuse refreshment, and go to leave when she asks for two more bags.
I say no, we have to go to several other places, but later I'm slammed with regret: of course I could have dug two more bags out of the truck, why not, but I didn't.
When we find the Oglala Reservation today, we climb the steps to the double wide trailer, knock on the door. When we tell Corrine Brave we're here from Standing Rock, she smiles brightly, hugs us and tells us they have collected wool socks, gloves, and scarves to send there.
Here we are in the midst of the most isolated, most poverty struck, most pipeline-benefits-deprived people in the nation and they have so dearly wanted to support the Water Protectors, they've collected goods they themselves probably go without.
When we tell her we're not going back to Standing Rock this time but have brought donations of surplus goods, everyone in the center is excited and happy. We unload maybe 25 bags and one of the womyn sees a pair of boots that end up fitting her. She lifts her old boot to show us the tape that has been keeping it together - in 4 degree weather and about 6" of visible snow.
Another young womon holds a bag of 'sanitary napkins' close to her chest, eyes shining in gratitude.
I encourage all Water Protectors driving out of Oceti to take as many bags of donations you can fit and distribute to First Nation communities along your way home.