Water Protector Recalls Moment National Guard Took Selfies With Caged Protectors In Background


by HolyElk Lafferty   February 6, 2017
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When our bus pulled in to the Morton County facility, we saw that the bus before us had already unloaded the other Water Protectors into the dog kennels and they had been stripped down to their base layer of clothing and it was freezing cold in the garage.

There were police officers and National Guards standing around casually eating pizza and joking with each other. From my window I had a view of the cage where they were holding the men. I could hear them singing and chanting #mniwiconi to keep their spirits up. It felt good to hear that, I felt connected to them even though they were outside of the bus we were on because we are all one heart, one mind and one prayer.

As we were looking out the window, someone pointed out that 2 National Guard officers were taking selfies with their personal phones with a view of the men in the cage behind them. Sure enough, there they were smiling and laughing as they posed and snapped pictures of our Water Protector brothers in cages behind them who were doing their best to hold each other's spirits up. It was disgusting to see them take such pleasure in it.

2 National Guard officers were taking selfies with their personal phones with a view of the men in the cage behind them.

We sat on the bus for hours and most of us had to pee so bad but our requests to use the bathroom were denied. At one point the female guard said "ok, stand up if you have to go bathroom and can't hold it" so we all stood up. She laughed and walked off the bus. I was in the very back of the bus and a young woman who was in the seat across the aisle couldn't hold it anymore and pee'd in her pants then jumped out of the back of the bus with zip ties still on. I assume they took her to get cleaned up but I never saw her again after that. When they had our bags labeled there was a Jane Doe bag that none of us recognized so it may have been hers.

Last Child Camp - Photo via HolyElk Lafferty
My zip ties were hurting so bad and my hands were swollen. My right eye was hurting and I couldn't see out of it but I just tried to meditate through all of that because I knew it wouldn't do any good to ask for help. My nose and mouth still had dried mud on it and my friend Tiffany kept offering to let me wipe it on her scarf but I felt bad doing that so I just let it be. Eventually they started taking us off the bus to do mug shots and bag our clothes before we went into the kennels. When it was my turn I lilililiiii'd towards the men's cage so my brothers would feel my love and they responded with Akiša's, war cries and shouts of "I love you!"

I hadn't slept for so long and tried to lay on the concrete inside the cage to sleep but all it did was chill me to the bone so I just sat up and waited for what felt like hours more until they took us up to our jail cells. A reporter was in there with us and she asked the jailer for her phone call but he flipped out on her and basically said we shouldn't push his kindness, like it was a gift to us.

They told us that they were going to be shipping our brothers and sisters off to several different locations and my heart sank for them. I had no idea in that moment the torture they would endure during their transfer but I already hurt for them.

Morton County Police Garage - Overflow Room/ Dog Kennels

There's so much running through my mind constantly.. memories of what happened and images of people I love being hurt. Some things I may never share with anyone aside from those who already know because they lived it with me. I'm trying not to let these things break my heart. It's my burden to carry and I pray for strength to do it gracefully and not let it harden my heart.


I hesitated to share my story because I knew my heart needed to be strong enough to handle all the trolls that are waiting and not wanting my truth to exist. Guess what guys.. I wish it didn't exist either but this is the "America" that we live in.

Thank you to all who send love, prayers and support.

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About HolyElk Lafferty 1 Article
─ She's a water protector and meditation practitioner from Minnesota who has been participating in peaceful indigenous resistance actions since 2016. Follow Me On Facebook

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