Feeding the camp: Multiple kitchens serve meals, snacks and cookies to Standing Rock water protectors

Harmony Lauritzen came to the camps at Standing Rock from her home near Portland, Oregon. She only intended to stay a few days but has taken over lunch duties in one of the main kitchens.

Multiple kitchens serve meals, and snacks to Standing Rock water protectors

5 years ago
There are about a dozen kitchens throughout the camp that feed between 100-300 people per meal. But her main kitchen nearest to the sacred fire served 1200 at one of their busiest meals. 1:27

Harmony Lauritzen is from just outside Portland, Oregon. She was on the road, travelling all across the country when she saw coverage of what was happening in Standing Rock.

"On the day that I was in Portland, Maine was the Thursday that the North camp got raided. And I saw the police marching through and arresting people and maceing them. Even macing medics that were just trying to help. And I just felt something in that moment on that live feed that I needed to help these people somehow."

Lauritzen went to Sam's Club, loaded up with food and headed to the camp. By the second day, she started volunteering in the kitchen and quickly became the head cook at lunch.

Set up in three big, green army tents, one for storage, one for cooking and one acts as the mess tent where everyone eats. They cook on stovetops mostly, but when faced with the challenge of cooking a turkey dinner with no oven, Lauritzen said they got creative. 

Harmony Lauritzen (Erica Daniels/CBC)
"We dug a hole in the ground and made a big fire. Then we dug the fire out after we lined it with stones, wrapped the turkey up in foil and put it in the ground again with the fire on top, and dirt. We left it alone for eight hours and came back and it was moist and juicy and cooked," she said. 

Lauritzen said it can be hard to estimate the number of diners at any given meal as the camp's population is constantly changing. 

A lot of food donations come into the camp and Lauritzen said they are well stocked with dry goods heading into the winter. Some of which were used for a recent cookie making party combining peanut butter, oats and cocoa and leaving it to set. 
Although Lauritzen said she only planned to stay at Standing Rock for a little while, being back in the kitchen has given her something she was missing.

"I am a disabled vet with PTSD, anxiety and depression so I can't work in a real kitchen. When they swear at me to get the meat up to the front I break down. But here, I feel like I finally found a place where I can help people and it feels so good to watch them enjoy my food."

There are multiple kitchens up and running in the camps at Standing Rock. (Erica Daniels/CBC)
Although Lauritzen herself is non-Indigenous, she said the camps adhere closely to traditional protocols at mealtimes. 

"When everything is ready ... we take a little bit from each dish that we've made, we put it on a plate and we run it up to the sacred fire which is at the front of the camp and we have an elder pray over it. Then it gets blessed and thrown into the sacred fire," she explained. 

Next, plates are taken to the 20 elders around the sacred fire, medics, firewatchers and guards are offered meals. Then the people in line are served in order of women, children and men. 

There are about a dozen kitchens throughout the camp that feed between 100-300 people per meal. But her main kitchen nearest to the sacred fire served 1200 at one of their busiest meals. 

Although she didn't plan to stay long, Lauritzen said she's already spent several weeks at the camp.

"I just love it here and I need to stay until something is resolved."