November 15th is the day of the action for the #NoDAPL protests.
A lot of protests have been springing up in the past week since the 2016 election results were revealed. But there are some protesters who have an issue just as pressing on their minds, and who have been protesting for far longer than a week.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project to carry oil from North Dakota to Southern regions of the United States. Climate change-related issues with the new oil project aside, this pipeline has the very real potential to threaten the water supply for nearly 17 million Native Americans living along the Missouri River. In addition, the pipeline route was redirected through their area because white residents objected to such a threat. This kind of policy is known as environmental racism. With America’s sobering history of deliberate racism against Natives, this has become another in a long list of policies and events that are specifically unfair and often life-threatening to Native residents. When the pipeline was going to pass through an area of North Dakota mostly home to white people, it “was determined that wells that provided drinking water to the capital could be adversely affected.” So the pipeline was redirected, and its harm redirected to Native Americans. The media and police officers fighting the protesters are supporting corporate greed over the interests of the peoples at stake here.
Therefore, the Native American residents of the area and many others acting in solidarity across the country have, been protesting the drilling and construction of this pipeline for months. And like many protestors and people of color in America, they’ve received an undue amount of inhumane and forceful treatment from police, and not nearly enough positive media coverage. Officers surrounding the protests have been shooting rubber bullets and bean bags, and both protesters and reporters have been arrested. The police are using pepper spray and attack dogs on peaceful protesters. Maini Kiai, a reputed human rights lawyer from Kenya and a United Nations' specialist on the rights of freedom of association and peaceful assembly released a statement calling out the U.S. for using violence against protesters peacefully opposing the construction of the pipeline.
In most cases, protesting is very strategic on the part of the protesters, and it is important to remember who the people on the front lines of this situation are: Native Americans. They are the ones standing on Standing Rock, they are the ones whose water supply is in danger should the pipeline project succeed, they are the people whose livelihood is constantly threatened by racism that extends far beyond this instance of environmental racism. This is a conversation about climate change, but it is more urgently a conversation about the constant attack on Native American peoples. That cannot be ignored. To reiterate, the pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact white people. Its construction has already destroyed sacred Native American burial grounds. Again, this is another incident that is fundamentally about the anti-Native american policies that our country is built on. Standing with Standing Rock is vital, today and every other day until victory is seen and this wrong is righted–but don’t forget who you are standing for and with.
Today, November 15, is the #NoDAPL Day of Action! Here are some ways you can participate meaningfully, even if you’re not on the front lines in North Dakota.
- Contribute to their legal defense fund
- Join #NoDAPL Solidarity
- Make your community aware of the reality of this situation and imminent threat for the Natives who live there
- Contribute to the protesters' supply list or send them encouraging mail