Hoon-Mana polk - Bear Girl
Navajo, Quechan & San Carlos Apache
Studying to be a physician’s assistant in Twin Cities, minnesota

I am Navajo, Quechan, and San Carlos Apache. I grew up in Southwest Arizona on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation in Winterhaven California near Yuma, Arizona. And I’ve expanded my living to the Navajo Nation in Pinon, Arizona, where my grandmother lived. I have resided in the Twin Cities for the past five years.

My boyfriend, Brian Yazzie, and I came up here Halloween weekend and wanted to help everyone that's here especially after the riot that happened. We camped and it was just an experience that was very powerful; We realized this was exactly how our ancestors felt when our they were going through the same thing.... So to be able to feel that same energy and that same feeling of being scared and being worried and angry and trying to protect each other, is all there from many many many years from before.  

The food that was here [on our first trip]  was [what] basically was rationed to us when we were taken away from our reservations. And taken away from our lands. And so there was a lot of flour, a lot of dairy, a lot of just.. commodities. And we're trying to go back to our ancestral foods, which is food sovereignty. That’s what my boyfriend does for a living...trying to bring back his indigenous food from the southwest and from around this area...So when we were going home we both decided we wanted to come back and bring donations and food because we seen what was here.

The U-Haul of supplies Hoon-Mana helped bring to Oceti Sakowin. Photo thanks to Hoon-Mana Polk

We brought a 20-foot truck, a U-Haul, full of camp gear... medical things, supplies. And we also came with a lot of organic and fresh produce. We've brought bison, we've brought elk. We brought cranberries, berries, fruits, greens. We brought a lot of sage, cedar, maple, agave. The chefs in the kitchens here are very happy.

The things that are being said that aren't true are that we're hostile, we're an inconvenience of the state of North Dakota. That we're just occupying and trying to stop something that they believe is eventually going to happen. That we’re wasting our time. That we’re agitators. And that we’re here for nothing and that we’re making things worse for America. 

What I see here that is positive is unity. I see so many people from different countries, different nationalities, have all come here and they're all giving themselves to help each other and to try to stop DAPL. You have all these non-natives learning the history, culture, stories that we all grow up with as indigenous people. The songs you get to hear - the songs, the prayers, the ceremony - they are all being witnessed with people here who are in solidarity with us and who are willing to learn and understand and honor what we do. 

And acknowledge that we are still here. 
That we're still human beings. 
That we still occupy this land. 

Flags from many tribes line the entrance of Oceti Sakowin Camp. Photo by Tania Ellersick