Take part in creating a unifying tradition to help make our day of Thanks, something people of ALL backgrounds can be proud to participate in.

(And, in doing so, help support a cause TODAY that really needs our help and a strong dose of inclusive, national solidarity.)

So, what is this challenge?

In solidarity with the brave “Water Protectors” at Standing Rock, North Dakota, the larger movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and all that it represents, Earth Walk is launching a nationwide challenge, asking people to add a “Water Display” to their Thanksgiving table and then share it with the world, through pictures and storytelling on social media.

What is a ‘Water Display’?

Simple Thanksgiving Water Display

A water display is a physical, symbolic gesture of solidarity with the ‘Water Protectors’, in the form of a Thanksgiving table piece.  A water display can be something as simple as a bowl of water placed in the center of one’s dinner table.

It could be an elaborate, creative art piece that speaks to the issues related to Standing Rock – protecting our water, protecting our land, protecting sacred sites, transitioning from a fossil fuel-based energy system to one that is renewable and sustainable, etc.  It is something that can be placed either on one’s dinner table or in a prominent place of attention, in the house, as people are enjoying their Thanksgiving meal, as a way to call attention to and provide for a discussion on the issues related to Standing Rock, and beyond.  As we put a “Water Display” on our Thanksgiving tables, we are symbolically saying, we are here to protect the water of future generations, and stand with those on the front lines at Standing Rock.

At the core, the purpose is to place a vessel of water in a place of significance and/or importance, to raise awareness and invite discussion, related to the issues of Standing Rock, and then to share our experiences, through various media forms, with the world.

What purpose does the ‘Water Display’ serve?

Impressive Thanksgiving Water Display

Memory shapes the character of individuals and the nation in which they reside. What we choose to remember as a nation represents not only who we are, but who we want to be. Earth Walk supports the idea that Thanksgiving is about MORE than what we are grateful for. The hope is that adding this new tradition will raise a much-needed awareness on two issues that Earth Walk feels are essential to our survival as a species – our relationship with our neighbors, and our relationship with our planet. The water display represents the sacred relationships that we must be protective and honoring of so that we will have a bounty to be grateful for.

Why Thanksgiving?

The holiday of Thanksgiving has been wrought with controversy since its inception.  If one were to do a search on the internet for the ‘Story of Thanksgiving’, one would land themselves in a pile of versions that all paint very different pictures of what is believed to have actually occurred to create the holiday we have today.  While it is not Earth Walk’s role to side with one version over another, we would like this challenge, and hopefully, new tradition, to serve as an opportunity to weave the many voices of our past, together, as we give thanks for what we have in our lives.  The invitation to have people create a water display on their Thanksgiving dinner table is an opportunity to address the issues of controversy, with honest discourse while joining in solidarity around an important issue that affects all of us today.  It allows for thanksgiving with consciousness.

We cannot change the past, but we can acknowledge what has happened, with integrity, so we do not repeat the mistakes we have made. This is why we at Earth Walk, have put forth the Standing Rock Thanksgiving Redemption Challenge.  If we bring some consciousness to ‘the table’, we might very well ‘altar’ what happens in our nation’s future, and allow these waters to provide for a cleaner future.

Moving forward, we at Earth Walk would like to suggest that the holiday of Thanksgiving be not only about what we are grateful for, but also a time and opportunity to look at our relationships, how we show up in them, and how our actions affect the bounty we receive and are then able to be grateful for.  We would also like Thanksgiving to be a time when the people of the United States take an honest look at their relationship with the native peoples of this land, so that, together, we can create a healthier, cleaner, brighter future.  Let us join the many nations around the world, like Australia, Canada, and others, who are beginning to acknowledge the painful history that occurred when their European predecessors began to venture into ‘new’ parts of the world and establish some of the countries we live in today.  May we remember and acknowledge, so that together, we may create a healthier, more loving, vibrant world.

May the prayers at Standing Rock, and the collective prayers of folks around the country placing a Water Display on their Thanksgiving table, cast a blessing toward a more positive, loving, and clean future.

How does one fully participate in this challenge?


  1. Join our Facebook Event Page so you can share your display in solidarity with the world, and get updates.
  2. Start thinking about what you would like your “Water Display” to look like, and what you would like it to include.  If you are part of a family unit, start having discussions with your family members on what you would like the “Water Display” to look like and include.
  3. Let your friends know, through social media, and other avenues, that you will be participating in this challenge.
  4. Encourage others to participate and share the challenge with their community as well.
  5. As you think about what you would like your “Water Display” to look like, start sharing your creative ideas with friends, and explore meaningful conversation related.

On Thanksgiving:

  1. Add a “Water Display” to your Thanksgiving table. Keep it simple or be really creative.  It’s up to you.
  2. Invite people to your table to participate in a discussion and/or creative ceremony related to the “Water Display”. Again, keep it simple or be really creative and elaborate.
  3. Take a picture(s) of your “Water Altar” and post it(them) online and on our Facebook Event Page
  4. Share your “Water Display” experience on social media using the hashtags #ThanksgivingWaterChallenge, #Sitting4StandingRock, #WaterProtectors, and #EarthWalk

Before, During, or After Thanksgiving:

  1. Learn about the various historical understandings of Thanksgiving, the history of the Standing Rock area and the Treaties with the US Government, the current Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, and the stories and struggles of the native peoples in the area you live.
  2. Get Involved and Make a Difference!  There are MANY ways to this.  Find what speaks most to your heart and then figure out a way to go do it.
  3. Donate to the efforts at Standing Rock by following this link.

A Deeper Look at the Water Challenge…

Many people are aware of the controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the ‘Water Protectors’ at Standing Rock, but very few are aware of the long history that the Standing Rock Sioux Nation has with the United States Government.  It is due to this long and tragic history that we, at Earth Walk, felt it was appropriate to attach this Water Challenge to Thanksgiving itself, as a national action.  

Our hope is that this Water Challenge happens not only as a one-time event, this year, speaking to the current controversy at Standing Rock but as an ongoing tradition every Thanksgiving, as a way to raise awareness around the deeper issues related to the US relationship with the indigenous people of this land and the natural environment in which all people share.  Our hope is that this tradition will raise a much-needed awareness on two issues that we, at Earth Walk, feel are essential to our survival as a species – our relationship with our neighbors, and our relationship with our planet.

Please join us in honoring the water in this way.

Click here to learn more about Earth Walk.

A deeper look into the history of Standing Rock:

The disturbing history of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the series of conflicts surrounding Standing Rock is detailed here for the curious, and well worth mentioning. However, one doesn’t need to know the history to understand the importance of taking steps to move past it.

Our hope:

May this collective national action, the conversations that come about as a result, and the positive, healing action left in its wake help steer us in a direction as a nation, and series of nations, where we no longer need to repeat the mistakes of our past, but rather are grateful for the bounty that comes from relationships of mutual love, respect, and honor.

May this collective action ‘altar’ our Thanksgiving tradition in a way that allows us to give thanks in a way that honors all the voices, stories, and peoples that made this land the place it is today.  May it not only tell the common stories but provide a loving space for the forgotten stories as well.

May this collective, national action be an annual reminder to us to keep the relationship with the native nations of this land, and all who share this land with us, clean, like the water in our displays.

May this collective action send a strong message that even if the treaties of the past with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation have been ignored and forgotten by the government and the people, in the past, that today is a new day.  That we can wash our hands from the mistakes of the past and call in a healthier, cleaner tomorrow.

May this collective action help bring a stop to the Dakota Access Pipeline and all the destruction that it would leave in its wake, and inspire a movement to invest in renewable energies that are far better for the planet and all the species living on them.

May this collective action inspire more people to protect our water… our land… our air… the animals…. and the plentitude of human relationships that interact with them, as more issues like this one arise before us.

May the water wash over us and leave us feeling refreshed and renewed.  After all, water is life.


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