Betty archambault
Oglala Sioux, From the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota - Lives in Fort Yates, North Dakota
starting a Montessori School at standing rock for 3-5 year-olds

I am a Oglala Sioux from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I raised my family here and I have lived here for over 30 years. I have six kids and I am very proud of them.

Betty explains the significance of Indigenous details she has stocked the classroom with. Photo by Tania Ellersick

My husband and I have been in education and all of our kids have graduated college. We are the exception. Three of our kids have Masters and my husband and I both have Masters in education. We believe that the education system that our children are being subjected to doesn't fit anybody and we've always tried to change it. That's why I went to school to be a Montessorian, because I believe that's the best education you can get. This is a school that I’m starting here...on Standing Rock. When this goes [from the camp], hopefully we’ll just keep it going… [Although we could], we don't retire in Indian Country.

It was prophesied that our people, our Seven Council Fires of the Sioux would come together - and other people, other tribes. There are over 300 different [Native] tribes [here at Standing Rock].

It feels like family. And it feels like love. And it doesn't matter what color you are, where you come from. It's all unity. And that's something that our people have struggled with. So that's why I love it here and I come as often as I can. 

Betty Archambault stands in front of the tepee housing the Montessori school she started at Oceti Sakowin Camp. Photo by Heather Wilson

It just hurts my heart the cruelty and the abuse, the police brutality that our people are suffering. It’s in the name of peace and prayer that we come. And it just brings to surface all the prejudice with this president[-elect] that he has opened a can of worms and we’re not immune to that...I haven't been to Bismarck lately but the [Native] Indian people are afraid to go up there because they are very rude. Some people say they went so far as to throw coffee in an elder's face - won't serve you in the restaurants. It's bringing out the negative from them. They want to believe the news. The news is so tainted. We live it. We see it. And they say it didn’t happen.

We come in peace and prayer, and that’s the message. And in our prophecies, we’re told we will win as long as we stay in prayer. If we get violent, we are going to lose.

It’s history. We are making history right now.

I am here every day. I can’t stay away. It has changed my life. I know that it will never be the same.  

Mni Wiconi, Water is Life.

The sun rises over the frozen river at Standing Rock, with Oceti Sakowin Camp to the north and Sacred Stone to the South. Photo by Tania Ellersick