Kee Straits, pHD
Qechua, from Peru, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I was born in Cusco [Peru], I am Quechua. I came [to Standing Rock] with my family. My husband is Navajo, and my daughter and my husband and I have been wanting to come out for a long time because we know how important this fight is for native peoples. And it's not just native people here. The Navajo Nation has been fighting for a long, long time with taking of and the contamination of their water. On their lands. And in my homeland in Peru, the Amazon has been broken open with oil and the people have gotten very sick and had to move, It’s broken up our communities as well,  so it’s international.

I think women are drawn here because we have that ability to give birth. And I think it makes us think about life very differently to be able to look down to who our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great grandchildren, who they will be. It's not just looking at today and what kind of comforts we can have today, but into that future of who we know is going to be coming after us.

Kee's daughter. Photo by Tania Ellersick

A lot of people don't understand that is this really is originally a prayer camp. This is why I'm wearing a skirt here and why all the women wear skirts here…It's something that's a way of life that you have to know through living that to really understand what it means to be part of ceremony. That there would be no such thing as violence during that.

Native women march through Oceti Sakowin camp carrying signs reading, "Defend the Sacred". Photo by Heather Wilson

People think that Native people don't exist anymore. I've had people when I go to the East Coast, "You're an Indian! Can I touch you?" because they don't think we exist anymore. But to see this power... That it's Native people's small voices that just started bringing everyone here.  And it's indigenous people from all over the United States, Latin America, Canada, everyone's coming to this internationally because we know it affects us all and ultimately we all are indigenous people.  It's really powerful to see the spirit here...And that people are willing to take all these risks for the things that they think are most important. Which is our relationships with each other, the land itself, and everything that we depend on for life.