By Sarah Schrock
The Methow Valley Community Center was all abuzz with activity this past week as it hosted a range of gatherings, most notably, the Standing Rock benefit vigil and the holiday bazaar.
As part of Indigenous People’s Month, Nov. 15 was designated as a national day of recognition of the Standing Rock protest. The local gathering welcomed a sea of bodies swaying to music by Laura Love and the kinder-kids from Little Star Montessori School singing “This Land is Your Land” and “Love is Like a River” to onlookers participating in banner painting and quilt patching. Locals Phyllis Daniels, Susan Speir and Laura Love are among the thousands of protesters heading to Standing Rock to support the Water Protectors, who are seeking a permanent stop of construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Even though the pipeline route does not cross reservation land, the Water Protectors claim the Army Corps’ pipeline easement process did not comply with a lawful process to protect native cultural sites nor did it adequately address the threat to water quality of the Missouri River and Lake Oahe. Construction is currently halted in response to this allegation, as the Army Corps further reviews their concerns. A counter-suit has been filed against the Army Corps for delaying the project by pipeline proponents. The Water Protectors are seeking presidential action before the president-elect is inaugurated.
Joining in the journey to Standing Rock, a group of local primitive skill practitioners, a collective known as Buffalo Bridge, will also make an appearance at Standing Rock as part of their annual visit to the Greater Yellowstone bison hunt. Each year, the Buffalo Bridge collective sets up camp outside Yellowstone alongside hunters to assist in game dressing the animals and to ensure that no parts of the animal are wasted.
Wilderbabe Katie Russell and the Heathen family are among local primitive skill folks who participate in Buffalo Bridge. I met Alex Heathen at the holiday bazaar where he had a buffalo skull and hide on display, along with buckskin clothing, hand-sewn booties, bone buttons and other traditional handmade garbs for sale.
Handmade gifts are what the holiday bazaar is all about. A few new artists I made note of this year included Anna Dooley and Mia Stratman. Anna, a professional designer and seamstress at eqpd where she works in production, is selling a mini-backpacks sized for adults and kids under her own label. With bright colors and sturdy construction, the mini-backpack was inspired by her childhood bag that she resurrected in college to become her everyday bag. In addition to her mini-backpacks she has an assortment of fine prints and cards.
Mia, a 16-year-old artist at Liberty Bell, showcased a variety of illustrations printed on cards, tags, sweatshirts and unique prints. Her work is reminiscent of a favorite former valley artist, Corrina Luyken, whose whimsical illustrations still make their mark throughout the valley.
Look out! Mountain Road. This may be a more fitting name for Lookout Mountain Road after this weekend. Saturday’s snowfall left my city slicker family, who came into town for some grouse hunting, stranded on Lookout Mountain Road when their AWD vehicle couldn’t make a downhill corner without fear of sliding off the road. Special thanks to Brian McAuliffe and Jeremy Newman for assisting in the rescue operation that required a new set of chains, two trucks, a little tree clearing and moral support.