Truck wheels kicked up the dust of sacred land and Arizona's red rock desert soon became a rear view as two men from the Navajo Nation set off beyond the Colorado plateau and on an expedition that would likely be the most impactful of their lives.
An inspiring journey to sacred land
Unlike most journeys though, this trip was more than just a road trip. More than just a series of photos. More than just a self-fulfilling retreat for peace of mind. This journey was a contribution to support and protect land and water considered sacred and significant to the tribes of Standing Rock, North Dakota.
"[This movement] is to protect sacred sites ... and in this case, prevent contamination of the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the people that live downstream of the Missouri River."
- Brett Isaac
Known and loved in their local community for their efforts to bring affordable solar solutions to families living off the grid, Brett Isaac and Doug Yazzie (Navajo / Hopi and Navajo, respectively) were pondering the best ways to contribute to the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline construction when a camp contacted them regarding support in the form of energy.
Isaac and Yazzie, solar energy business partners, accepted the challenge without hesitation and resolved to build a 20-foot trailer and gift their own solar unit to the camp.
Driving Solar Panels on a 20-foot Truck in Six States
But the journey had just begun. Driving the 1.56kw solar panels, 40kw battery pack, and 20-foot trailer through Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota to Standing Rock, North Dakota wouldn't be easy, and the two men had a long checklist of tasks to complete within a short timeframe.
First, they needed DMV tags for the newly built trailer. Like most DMV interactions, the office was closed and waiting for it to reopen set them back a day. Then, as most road trips require, they needed to get a new spare tire in Moab, as well as service their truck in Grand Junction. Two days, 24 hours of driving, more than 1,200 miles, and an alerting engine light later, they arrived in Standing Rock and immediately set to work.
After consulting with tribe and camp leaders to discuss the best way to use the solar energy, the solar panels were strategically placed to power the main kitchen (refrigerator, deep freezer, lighting) and PA system for the camp. With over 280 nations and allies gathered to stand in the fight against the pipeline's construction, this 1.56kw solar unit will be able to power the base that feeds thousands of people a day with donated food.
I heard a rumor that two crazy guys from the #NavajoNation built a #solar trailer and drove 24 hours to get it to #standingrock to #powertheprotectors 😁 photos, video, and stories will come soon, but first we eat and get some rest. Thank you @merwiny @ochristine @fishingnaked @worldwide_bd @saint.steven @gabekoa @brianbrich and everyone else who helped us get here.
Winter will bring hurdles
But the fight isn't over. There's much to be done. As the winter months shift closer, power is needed even more. Yazzie shared photos of the solar set up on his Facebook page, and informed readers how much more is needed, as visitors and tribes intend to stay through the winter:
"Kitchen and PA are powered ... now we must work on powering the school, security, medic, [and] other four kitchens."
- Doug Yazzie
It is safe to say that a close-knit community has formed, regardless of tribe, as people continue to flock to Standing Rock to join what has become a powerful statement. Unsurprisingly, once Yazzie and Isaac arrived and got their truck blessed by the camp, their engine light turned off.
What You Can Do To Help Protest the Dakota Access Pipeline Construction:
Are you wondering, "how can I help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fight against the construction of the DAPL?"
Here are the top solutions you can contribute to in solidarity with the Sioux Tribe:
- Help keep the power running. Donate to the solar panel fund to get these guys to build, transport, and install more solar power to the camp. Brett Isaac and Doug Yazzie have donated their labor and resources, but solar units are quite expensive. Their Standing Rock solar GoFundMe page is here: http://bit.ly/SolarForStandingRock
- Check the list of actionable items from this Free Thought Project article including calling the North Dakota Governor; signing a number of petitions; and even donating to a legal defense fund. Click here for the article.
- Donate supplies requested on this Sacred Stone Camp supply list and this Amazon wish list. Your contributions are appreciated.
Share this article and make a change!
If you were inspired by the action these men took to make change and support Mother Earth, sacred land, and fellow humans, then share this article and get people inspired to act now.
There are tons of things you can do to help, even if you have no money to donate nor opportunity to get there. You can make phone calls. Sign petitions. And keep sharing articles like this to support the fight.
Share this Pinterest-friendly image to start informing others. Thanks for reading.
Photo and video credits: Doug Yazzie and Tinsel Korey Yazzie
About the author:
Olivia Christine is Lupus fighter and travel / wellness writer who loves sharing her passion for exploring. The mission: inspire people to travel often, love more, and live well. Explore Olivia Christine's book, "Call Me Quitter" and learn how she successfully traded misery and illness for a joyous life filled with travel.