Our dear friend and fellow Richmond photographer, Ash Carr, spent December 2 through December 8 at Oceti Sakowin Camp as a media representative for Catalyst to document the events at the Standing Rock protest. This is the email she sent us on December 8.
We've just pulled out onto main roads leaving camp. It took me the first three days to get a media pass; they had run out of the physical passes and needed to wait for more to arrive. It was nice to have that time to adjust to the space and get our camp situated. However, those were the three non-blizzard days! Regardless I made a few images that I'd love to share with you. I had a real personal struggle makings images in the space; the elders had agreed to allow media to photograph front line actions but any other photography on camp required permission from any individual, and absolutely no community structures, prayers, or ceremony could be photographed. I witnessed so many of the vets and other media arriving on tight deadlines and entirely disregarding this request of respect, photographing the water ceremonies, stalking indigenous people, and photographing inside the kitchens. It echoed the entire resistance — the lack of respect for their unceded treaty land — and was a direct act of violence and colonization by non-indigenous people in my opinion, so I had a hard time aligning with the other media. Instead, I ended up putting my head down and building winterized structures and washing dishes to support the camp instead. I'll work on getting the few images to you ASAP.
Here are some of the moments Ash captured for us.
Water protectors participate in a performance art piece carrying mirror shields overhead to form a human river, flowing through Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock shortly after the announcement of the easement denial was made on December 4. The mirrors were made by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger.
Children sled down "Media Hill" on December 4, as Oceti Sakowin Camp celebrates a small victory with the Army Corp of Engineers denying the easement that would allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe on sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Reservation.
A view of Oceti Sakowin Camp from Media Hill. A self sufficient prayer camp of water protectors standing in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Water protectors celebrate the easement denial near the peta waken, or sacred fire on December 4.
Views along highway 1806 on the edge of Oceti Sakowin Camp. Flags from different tribes and supporters line the road.
Cars line the entrance to camp as veterans begin to arrive December 4.
A helicopter circles over camp, incessantly.
Tipis at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
John Motter, a member of Vets for Peace and Iraq Vets Against The War, at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
View of Oceti Sakowin Camp during heavy snow on December 6.
View of Backwater Bridge along the blocked 1806 highway during heavy snow on December 6.
Mark Heisey, a water protector, stands overlooking Oceti Sakowin Camp.
A water protector stands security along highway 1806 in the snow.
Flags left by supporters line the road to Oceti Sakowin Camp. Over 300 tribes and First Nations have shown support to Standing Rock by coming to Oceti Sakowin Camp and/ or writing letters.
Corn outside one of the nine camp kitchens in Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Tipis at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Mile markers point to locations water protectors have come from at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
The nearly frozen Cannonball River. Each morning women lead the way to the river in a water ceremony to offer prayers and tobacco for the water at this site.
Lex, a water protector, checks her phone by the wood stove she helped install in a winterized structure at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Bunkbeds built by a group of water protectors from Vermont in a winterized structure at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Camp Security and water protectors act quickly to put out a fire that erupted from a tent around 1 am December 8.
Snow blows across the highway near Standing Rock reservation.
Steam rises off the not yet frozen Missouri River.
Water Protectors Jean + Elena refuel after spending three weeks at Oceti Sakowin Camp. The pair drove straight from Standing Rock to Washington, DC to attend the NO DAPL march Saturday December 10.
A voice over the loud speaker at the Sacred Fire echoes through Oceti Sakowin camp calling water protectors to wake up and join the circle for prayer just after 6 am December 3.
Duke, a veteran, gets his bearings on Media Hill shortly after arriving at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Ash Carr is a traveling wedding photographer based in Richmond, VA who is super into photographing the stories of the raddest of couples and super ridiculously-in-love couples. She is all about the in between moments, the nervous glances, and open mouth laughs rather than a who's who of those in attendance. Ash is interested in authentic images of your love story and is unwilling to create watered down/homogenized robot poses for the benefit of the wedding industrial complex.