“This is like the Santa Rita Bus,” I whispered as I looked over at my comrade revolutionary Aunti Frances Moore’s terrified eyes. We’ve both ridden the bus that carries homeless and other “criminal” people to Santa Rita County Jail. I could barely utter a whisper, lost in my own fear of incarceration and endless criminalization as an unhoused poor person in stolen Turtle Island.
We were in the plane to North Dakota, a “pond jumper” as the experienced flyers call it. Most people in the tiny cramped plane were cool, calm and collected, but me and Frances were huddled up against the toilet wall, praying for it all to end, hyperventilating and dreaming on the prayer, “Water is life.”
Myself and Aunti Frances, poverty skola, Po Poet and teacher with POOR Magazine’s PeopleSkool, Homefulness and founder of the Self-Help Hunger Project in North Huchuin (Oakland) were part of a small Po’ Folks Delegation to Standing Rock, Mni Wiconi, along with two youth poverty skolaz from Deecolonize Academy and POOR Magazine, Tiburcio Garcia and Aselah Pacheco.
We began our prayerful journey on invitation from the All Nations Camp at Standing Rock to bring prayers and media, share knowledge about unhoused, Black, Brown and Indigenous poor peoples and exchange survival innovation. Our delegation chose this time because all us unhoused folks are dying on the streets due to exposure and cold, and the water protectors are facing the same thing many of us face every day in urban settings with little or no support.
“Even if we only had liberated land, we could pitch our tents and build from there. This is a continuum from No. 4 of the Black Panthers’ Ten-Point Program on land. This is liberation,” said Frances as we sat around the sacred fire of the Two Spirit Camp at Mni Wiconi.
“We are bringing our own love and prayer from the streets of Oakland to the
water protectors of North Dakota,” said Aunti Frances Moore.
The terrifying plane ride had included a “plane police-social worker” threatening us that she would have to involve “authorities” and stop the plane – aka Homeland Security or what I am renaming HomeLESS Security – to deal with us. It reminded us endlessly criminalized folks even more clearly that we were on stolen land dealing with the agents and enablers of the land stealers, and this perhaps was the best introduction to the fight to save our water and Mama Earth at Standing Rock.
“We as unhoused, landless and formerly unhoused poets, land liberators and media producers who face extreme conditions on the street and criminalization just for being alive while unhoused, are working to liberate Mama Earth from the line of ownership, banksters, gentrification and desecration here in Huchuin want to support, share prayer, love and knowledge with water protectors in Standing Rock, while we continue to fight the war on the poor right here in Huchuin,” said Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, co-founder POOR Magazine and Homefulness and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America.”
“We are bringing our own love and prayer from the streets of Oakland to the water protectors of North Dakota,” said Aunti Frances Moore.
“We youth skolaz at Deecolonize Academy have been supporting Standing Rock Water protectors since the struggle for our water began,” said Aselah Pacheco, 12, from Deecolonize Academy.
First day at Standing Rock
by Tiburcio Garcia, 13, Deecolonize Academy
The snow shined against the afternoon sun. The multicolored flags bearing the images of our ancestors rippled and flapped in the afternoon breeze as the “Po’ Folx Delegation” from POOR Magazine and Decolonize Academy rode in on a rented four-wheel drive car. After a long, harrowing journey from Huchuin, Ohlone (Oakland, California), in two planes and a rental car we finally arrived to find an avenue of flags from hundreds of nations across Mama Earth, including our favorite, where we piled out of the car to take our first picture, the RBG flag of Black liberation.
Every crunch of snow against my rubber boots was a rush of relief that the long arduous journey was finally over.
A snowman with ski glasses over his eyes greeted us at the entrance of the Standing Rock reservation and protest camp with a cheery, inanimate wave. As the car drove down the road, we saw giant military tents sporting signs saying Healing Center, Kitchen and Compost Toilets.
Standing Rock is amazing!
by Aselah Pacheco, 12, Deecolonize Academy
When we officially got to Standing Rock, it was amazing. There were huge army tents that held a kitchen filled with nothing but food, goodies, and silverware. Snow was all outside. Also, the tents all had big wood boards as floors so that the cold wind couldn’t get in.
We are sharing a tent with three other people we stay with at the Two Spirits Camp. Two Spirits Camp is one of the smallest and most organized camp, very open to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and women and men.
It is a cozy little camp, and everyone is so friendly. We are right across from the kitchen, which is organized and has food. And the bathroom is right across from us. Be careful where you step in the patched-up snow, ‘cause you might get stuck in it.
“We youth skolaz at Deecolonize Academy have been supporting Standing Rock Water protectors since the struggle for our water began,” said Aselah
Pacheco, 12, from Deecolonize Academy.
Day 1 of our learning
by Tiny and Frances
“We staff the compost toilets all day. There is a whole organized system that makes this stay clean and sanitary,” one of many camp attendees said while taking us poverty skolaz through the intricate process to keep the beautiful compost toilets clean. We formerly unhoused po folks at Homefulness who are trying to move off the grid of stolen Mama Earth resources, aka PG&E and the so-called Water Department, watched and learned carefully.
It was a system of support and respect. Everyone worked carefully and with intention to keep these off-grid toilets clean.
From the above-ground Standing Rock Railroad as I call it that hooked up us po folks up with free expensive warm clothing and sleeping bags in Oakland (Huchuin) before we left and also existed as a beautifully supported “supplies tent” out at Standing Rock, and its multi-nationed network of support is a model of redistribution. So let’s also look at how this redistribution can be manifested to our unhoused folks.
The day we left Huchuin (Oakland), police were threatening unhoused peoples under the 580 freeway to move them out of their encampments. These struggles are all connected.
As POOR Magazine always calls for: Give us some liberated indigenous land and we can build ourselves a self-determiNATION like we are doing at Homefulness – like our prayer and water warriors are manifesting at Standing Rock, and as Aunti Frances reminded us was already named, dreamed and conceived in the Black Panther Party 50 years ago.