Indigenous Peoples’ Week: Water is Life

In continuing with this week’s theme, I’d like to recap what’s been going on in North Dakota. If you haven’t heard, a peaceful protest has been going on for months now. American Indians from tribes all across the United States have traveled there to support the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their efforts to protest, and hopefully halt, the pipeline that is planned to run through their reservation.

The reason this pipe cannot be placed on the reservation is because the chances of it breaking and contaminating the water are extremely high. Thousands of people’s livelihood would be at risk. Not to mention the construction for where this pipe is to be placed is on the site of sacred burial grounds. In short, this project is not one which can continue. It has to be stopped.

The U.S. has taken so much from its indigenous people. The amount of land on the reservations for each tribe is laughable compared to the amount of land they used to have, before European settlers took over. The absolute last thing the U.S. should be doing is encroaching on their land further, disrupting their lives continuously.

Everyone has been going to these peaceful protests. And you know who else is showing up? Armed police forces with attack dogs. Peaceful protests involve prayer, singing, a strong community bond. Why on earth would or should that be met with attack dogs? Guns? It just breaks my heart that anyone is defending the placement of this pipeline. The only thing I can think is that they don’t know or understand what is at stake.

Thankfully, actress Shailene Woodley put herself on front line of the protests to call attention to this. She was arrested, and I felt like finally this cause was getting the attention it deserved. She has long been a supporter of native rights and for that I admire her so much. She is not one to do things like this for money or attention. She recorded an hours-long Facebook live video post talking about the protests, and if you have a chance to watch it I highly recommend you do. Unfortunately, she was singled out and arrested by the end of the video, but she perfectly explained why this is wrong and what is at stake. I wish more people were listening. But I think her message got across to enough people, and with continued media coverage I am hoping that it will help bring about some sort of executive order to halt the pipeline.

I could spend another entire week talking about why it would make more sense to focus on harnessing energy through air and wind as opposed to oil (there would be no need to fight for oil abroad, or abuse it in our own country) but I won’t.

I want the focus to be on the people that this is affecting, and the people who are being supportive of them. Since I don’t have the means to travel to the Dakotas myself, I donated money. It’s all I can do right now. If you’re asking what YOU can do (you were, weren’t you?) it would be to simply share as many news articles as you can across as many media platforms as you can.

The biggest issue with this is that not enough people know what is going on. I worry that it’s because the protests have been peaceful, in other words they aren’t violent enough to be covered by the news. But that’s just it: natives are not violent people. They just want their land protected as was promised. It’s the least the U.S. can do.

If you’re interested, here again is where you can donate money.

And remember: water is life.

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