When Eryn Wise left Phoenix for the Standing Rock protests, I think her non-POC friends had a rude wake-up call when it came to how indigenous people are treated in this country. We watched as one of our best friends and her family, already marginalized and carrying generational trauma, became the targets of police brutality, surveillance, constant threats, racial violence and broken promise after broken promise.
I can’t speak for Eryn, but I know the experience deeply affected her in ways only people who were there could understand.
Eryn started transitioning back into non-camp life as I was in the process of moving 3,600 miles away from the city where we began cultivating our friendship. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Though the underlying causes of our tumultuous mental health during this time couldn’t have been more different, we found similarities and took solace in the fact we had each other — and, ever the green thumb, Eryn had her plants. One cactus in particular gave her a hard time, regularly leaping from its container. The ‘suicidal cactus,’ as she called it, couldn’t go more than a few weeks without wanting to tear itself out of the soil. But as months turned into years, as Eryn healed, so did her the cactus. It took a long time, but it finally took root.
It recently began thriving and outgrew its original container.