This piece was guest authored by Matt Meyers ’17
If you care about the environment, indigenous rights, or the militarization of the police, this article is written for you. If you think that the system is broken and you feel discouraged, this article is written for you. If you want to take direct action but just don’t know how, this article is written for you. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is threatening the land, the water and the lives of 18 million people.
Five Kenyon students and I traveled to Standing Rock to listen and engage in this revolutionary movement. We arrived at Oceti Sakowin overflow camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota on October 2nd, and stayed until the 7th. By participating in direct actions and various hands-on operations at the camp, especially in the kitchen, many water protectors shared their stories and motivations with us.
We came with $2,000 worth of donations from the Kenyon community and open ears. Although our financial and material donations were greatly important to the winterization of the camp, various conversations had left us feeling that our physical presence was most appreciated by the community.
Time after time people we met from around the country told us they sold their belongings and left past lives to join the movement until the pipeline is defeated. Many Natives expressed to us that their reasons for staying at the camp were in great reverence of their ancestors and in protecting the sacred for generations to come. I think about them a lot, and their beautiful and willful sacrifices they made to be there. They are standing rock solid.
A moment I will never forget was an encounter with a Native man, Sage. He approached me as I stood next to our car door window that read “black snake killa” (pipeline killer), and his words will never leave me. Talking into my soul, he said something like, You white people have to stop playing Pokemon-Go, ya’ll gotta stop watching Netflix all the time. There’s real shit going on out here. We need your help. We have no voice out here. You all (college students) are the ones that can defeat this black snake. I ain’t never said that shit to anyone, ever.
As young, engaged citizens, we have a responsibility to be socially aware and active. It is easy to sit back and learn about current events and worldly issues, but we challenge you to take the next step. Our generation is the future. What will you do and what side of history will you be on?
The Americas have been built on the displacement of indigenous peoples and genocide. Many are taught to believe that this ended when colonization did, but these processes still persist today on the invisible peripheral. In a statement by actress Shailene Woodley regarding her arrest during a direct action on Indigenous People’s Day, she writes: “We are still silencing [the Native American’s] dedication to protect us from the planetary consequences that will catastrophically bleed from our ignorance. We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture… We are allowing Native American voices to be swallowed by the white noise of distraction.” It is long overdue that non-Native allies take a stand with Natives against the continued abuse of their people and land. Right now, we have that opportunity.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a private fossil fuel company funded by some of the world’s biggest banks, is burying a toxic oil pipeline underneath the Missouri River and through four states. Being the largest river in the United States, millions of people depend on it for clean drinking water. Additionally, the pipeline is being built on stolen treaty land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. ETP is consciously destroying ancestral burial grounds and sacred sites in the process. For more facts and information on the construction of DAPL, please visit these links:
- Voices of Standing Rock: https://www.facebook.com/voicesofstandingrock/
- Shailene Woodley’s statement on her arrest: http://time.com/4538557/shailene-woodley-arrest-pipeline/
- Democracy Now!: http://www.democracynow.org/topics/dakota_access
- “Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs & Pepper Spray” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuZcx2zEo4k
Although this pipeline is directly affecting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, it is affecting all of us. This is a human issue. The #NoDAPL movement is a spiritual and cultural awakening for the entire human race. We can no longer stand by and watch in silence as we let capitalism continue its path of endless growth through commodifying the earth. This system is run by greed and dehumanization. We MUST stop burning fossil fuels and polluting our environment if we are to even have a possibility of leaving the planet healthy enough for our children and the generations that follow.
Take a look at the articles above and educate yourselves about the realities beyond Kenyon College. The group of students that went to Standing Rock are still in contact with leaders of the movement and currently planning ways in which we can continue to take action. If you want to be involved in the #noDAPL movement, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, what can YOU do?
(1) Indigenous Nations at Kenyon’s meeting about DAPL
10/30 2pm in Lentz House.
We will be joined by Professor Gilda Rodriguez who will shed light on DAPL from a political and policy-based perspective.
(2) Engage with DivestKenyon to get our endowment investments out of fossil fuels and private prisons. Divestment is a nationwide movement of removing investments for financial, ethical, or political objectives.
10/28 DIVESTFEST on Ransom Lawn from 4-5pm. Join as we call upon the Board of Trustees to invest in our future, not the destruction of it.
(3) Attend events with Scatter Their Own, an Oglala Lakota alter-native rock band.
10/27 7pm. Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater. Talk and Discussion – “Find Your Roots: We Are As Clean As Our Water”
10/28 8:30pm. Performance at the Horn