Content note: discussion of environmental racism, links are provided to blog posts that discuss to settler colonialism, r*pe.
Note: This is written from the perspective of a non-Native to other non-Natives
Recommended reading before you begin (and just in general): Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex, Listen Up! 50 Provocative #DearNonNative Tweets, Decolonization is Not A Metaphor
“Solidarity with the trans community is not a retweet, ‘like,’ or Facebook share. Solidarity is informed, intentional, reoccurring, sustainable acts of service.”
This quote by Blackademic and activist Lourdes Ashley Hunter in reference to trans communities is one I think we can use as a model for true solidarity. Keep this quote in mind as you navigate this blog post.
Fast Facts on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Fact: Oceti Sakowin, which means Seven Council Fires and are what is commonly known as the Sioux or the Great Sioux Nation, land is sovereign land.
Fact: The building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is in violation of at least five federal laws and treaties.
Fact: The Keystone Pipeline was shutdown because it leaked, recently and horrifically.
Fact: Oil spills are an inevitability and the results can be absolutely catastrophic
Fact: The DAPL crosses the Missouri River at a culturally important juncture.
Fact: “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) is a slogan but it’s also the name of a crucial rural water pipeline that runs from the Missouri River to several South Dakota tribes and the DAPL oil pipeline threaten this vital resource.
Fact: There are serious cultural, health, safety, environmental, religious, racial, and sovereignty issues at work.
Fact: The average adult body is about 57-60% water and 0% crude oil.
Right now there are people at the Sacred Stone Camp/Camp of the Sacred Stones as well as in Washington, D.C. putting their lives on the line to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the oil pipeline that threatens sovereignty and the environment. They are risking arrest, injury, illness, violence, job loss and worse in order to #StopDAPL. They are protecting our water and they are defending the earth from people who seek to destroy both in their quest for oil and ultimately profit. Whether you realize it or not, they are fighting for you and the future of our planet. Some call themselves activists. Most see themselves simply as protectors and defenders of water, earth, and air; however, they shouldn’t have to do this vital work without aid.
So now, how can we be better accomplices if we aren’t on the frontlines?
1. Don’t show up for ally cookies.
Take a back seat, the very back seat. It should go without saying that this work is not about accolades or feeling good. Question your motives, always. Make sure that what you’re doing is appropriate. Are you taking up space? Is what you’re doing actually beneficial or do you just think it’s beneficial?
2. Amplify those most directly impacted.
Marginalized and oppressed people are always the most affected and we must work toward assisting those most directly impacted. Those most directly affected are Indigenous/Native people, specifically the Oceti Sakowin in the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is our duty to assist appropriately, particularly as the descendants of settler colonialists who stole land that was not theirs. Follow ReZpectOurWater and Sacred Stone Camp Take the actions they recommend, then signal boost (retweet, share, nudge people about it) it everywhere! Don’t just share things once or twice. People need reminders. Add your own message of encouragement.
3. Take Action
Sign petitions and then spread them. Now spread them again. Then contact your Senators and Representatives, especially those like Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who directly encouraged North Dakota’s oil boom. Contact your legislators via phone and email. Get together with friends on the weekend and make a day of it! Take to phone banking, letter writing, social media campaign “party” to get it done! Make it an event! Do it with an organization you’re a part of! The more the merrier!
4. Donate Money and Supplies
Contribute to the legal defense fund , donate directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund, and donate supplies for those on the frontline. I created the Sacred Stone Camp Wishlist on
Amazon that delivers some of the needed supplies to the address I got from them if you have the money to spare. You could use that or create your wishlist if money is tight for you as well. Another option is to have a contribution box and pool resources with friends, family, or co-workers! When I was in college, the cultural coalition next door to mine, the Black/African Coalition, had a big box outside of their office where they’d accept donations for an organization with which they were partnering at that time. Ask companies to donate supplies! Often companies will donate, but they require a nudge from someone within the company. You can also partner with people to make your job easier, even reaching out to local businesses!
5. Use Your Talent and Skills
Are you an artist? A creator? Do you have a helpful skill you can use to benefit people out protecting the land? Maybe you have a product that you make that you can donate the proceeds or a portion of the proceeds! Get creative. Maybe your talent is in marketing or in facilitating donor relationships. Whatever it is, we all have something, so think of ways to use it. If you’re stuck, I can help! While we can always ask those most affected what they need, we can also get creative and lead ourselves as long as we’re cognizant of the room we’re taking up.
Find your talent or skill, and then use it! Do something! A retweet is not enough!
I hope you found this helpful! I certainly had some assistance from some amazing Native American friends in writing this blog post! Thanks to them!
If you found this beneficial, please spread it widely! I’d love any feedback!