Standing Rock Protest

For those that do not know what the Standing Rock protest is, it’s the fight against putting a massive pipeline through sacred Native American land that would break multiple treaties in place. Not only would the pipeline break treaties but it would also cause environmental hazards for the area with if the pipeline were to break. For more information about the treaties that are supposed to protect the land check out, NYC STANDS WITH STANDING ROCK. We thought it would be a great opportunity to speak with Native American traditions Professor Avalos to discuss the recent movements at Standing rock and talk about how to be a good ally in the fight. Below is the interview.


Q: Can you tell people that might not know anything about the Dakota Pipeline what the protest is about?

A: There was a pipeline that was initially proposed to go through Bismarck North Dakota that was rejected by the majority white residents there and was redirected to the standing rock Sioux reservation. It would have been redirected to an area outside their reservation boundaries due to their original treaty with the US. The lands in question were originally a part of their reservation lands and are considered sacred to the standing rock community and to multiple tribes in the area.


Q: What does land mean to the Native American community?

A: For many Native communities they feel as if they are the land; their land is their mother, caregiver, and they, in term, are the stewards of the land. This sacred relationship is one that they take very seriously. We could see it as a covenant between the spirit world that resides in the land and the people.


Q: What recent movements have been made?

A: The army core of engineers, the U.S. army core of engineers, is responsible for providing permits for these kinds of major projects pipelines etc. Due to the overwhelming protest by native and non-native people in the growing standing rock camp that many estimated at 10,000 persons, the army core of engineers decided not to issue the permit to Dakota access. However, anecdotally, on the ground many people at Standing Rock noted that Dakota access continued to construct and build despite the fact that the U.S army core of engineers was not permitting them to, so they are defying this new change in permission. So at this point it is unclear whether Dakota access the US army of engineers and the protestors would like. How they can get away with this is basically what we’re waiting to see. There is a long history of mining companies and other corporations that seek to detract resources from native lands ignoring native protests. Unfortunately, it may continue to get violent between both sides. Meaning that Dakota access had initially sent out private contractors to police the protestors and redirect them from these contested spaces. North Dakota, as a state, was also compelling their state and county police to antagonize protesters. While things seem quiet now this fight between them might persist.


Q: What does it mean to be a good ally?

A: Being a good ally here is complex but it can be diverse. Spreading awareness between your friends and family helps quite a bit. If you have the material means, send help and supplies to the Standing Rock camp. Also contacting your local representatives and state representatives, let them know you support these protestors/protectors and that you don’t want to see this pipeline being built.


Q: Are there any websites or organizations you can suggest to readers who want to stay posted on what’s happening and what can be done?

A: There is a standing rock website, where you can find address to send things and dates in which events are happening surrounding it. Another community that is great to follow is the indigenous environmental network. They have been keeping people up to date on what’s happening.