Redding, California, photographer Valerie Saidman visited the Oceti Sakowin water protectors’ camp near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in early January where she met MyKennah Lott from Riverton. Lott, also known as Little Wind, agreed to escort Saidman to several sites where the water protectors resisting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline had come up against police.
The two visited a bridge, which was the boundary between police lines and the camp, where they picked up trash. They went next to Turtle Island, a rise where police held a ridge-top position surrounded by wire. Police drove up in vehicles, grabbed Lott and wrestled her to the ground, according to the story the two women told.
Saidman wrote in a Facebook post that one officer pointed and said “Get her!” The police were careful with her camera as they arrested her, she wrote, and “very kind to me.” She was taken with Little Wind to jail, but before leaving the area a bison blocked the police vehicle, then ran alongside.
“I told the officer driving, ‘they want you to let us go!’” Saidman wrote. “MyKennah whispered to me, ‘The ancestors are with us.’ It brought tears to my eyes and gave me peace.”