SALT LAKE CITY - Members of a Salt Lake City yoga studio shared their experience after spending time at the peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
21st Yoga raised nearly $5,000 and drove out supplies to a protest camp on Thanksgiving.
“We just looked at each other and said, ‘The time is now. We have to get up there,’” yoga studio co-owner Lucy Dillon said.
The studio had already been collecting the donations from the community. They were able to fill two trucks with clothing, firewood and medical supplies.
“Winter coats, they wanted really warm blankets, jackets,” 21st Yoga instructor James Hardy said, listing off just a few of the many different kinds of items they had in tow.
All of it was to help protesters near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as they gear up for winter while continuing to stand against police and the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
When they arrived, the four immediately tried to jump in and help.
“We all had to take a second, and kind of ground and be like, ‘OK, and that looks like a clothing pile over there. Let's walk over, there’s people over there,’” Hardy said.
What sticks out from their two days helping out?
For one, the police presence. Dillon said the National Guard turned them away on one of the roads that led to the camp, and that she felt the climate being set up could resemble a war zone.
“When the sunset came, you started seeing the big flood lights set up on the hill and the perimeter,” Hardy said, adding that it made them aware of who was watching them.
“There's razor wire, there's microphones,” Dillon said.
She said she could hear police talking over the microphones, warning protesters.
“There was that intensity there, and it was palpable when you got there,” Hardy explained.
And within the camp, they experienced a juxtaposition: campfires, ceremony and sacred Native American ritual. In the middle of the camp, Dillon said what’s called the Sacred Fire burned night and day.
“There’s a fire that’s burning at all times, elders sitting around the ring of that fire, drummers, singers, and they’re chanting prayers all of the time,” she said.
While they said their trip and donations from Salt Lake City only played a small role, they indicated the impact on them has proved enormous, sobering and indescribable.
“My takeaway is just, there is so much courage up there and it still has me filled and still has me inspired,” Hardy said.