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Addressing Sacred Stone Camp Cultural Misinterpretations

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Courtesy Karen Little Thunder
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A Lakota man protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline was also part of a Black Elk Peak renaming ceremony. Phil Little Thunder sees links between the two locations.
Phil Little Thunder’s ancestors were among those killed in 1855 when U.S. Army troops led by General William S. Harney attacked the Lakota at Blue Water Creek. And it was in Harney’s honor that the highest peak east of the Rockies was formerly named. 
 
Little Thunder feels it was a traditional belief in prayer that helped bring about the change to Black Elk Peak. 

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Credit Courtesy Phil Little Thunder
Phil Little Thunder expresses concern over cultural misinterpretations by non-Natives near the Sacred Stone Camp and the media.

“The way that our ancestors probably wanted it,” Little Thunder observes. “We did a lot of prayer and prayer walks and ceremonies…children doing the prayers. That…that’s what this is about…the future generations.” 
 
Little Thunder notes that this same belief in prayer and traditions like the canupa`…or sacred pipe…is present at the Sacred Stone Camp. 
 
“So those people up north in Cannon Ball…they know,”observed Little Thunder. “They’re all there in prayer despite some of the newspaper or media things that they talk about. Maybe it’s misquoted or something.” 
 
Little Thunder believes one significant “misquote” that may have started a rumor, is the perception that there are pipe bombs at the Sacred Stone Camp. 
 
“They said…’Oh…they’re loading their pipe…bombs…they said,” ?comments Little Thunder. “We’re loading…in Lakota ‘opagi’ means to put tobacco in the pipe. So…that’s what we do.” 
 
Little Thunder believes some mistook loading a sacred pipe with tobacco for loading a non-existent pipe bomb. He says this led to unnecessary fear and anxiety among many. 
 
Those camped in North Dakota, notes Little Thunder, are committed to non-violence.