*There are multiple other issues involved with the Dakota Access Pipeline that are not addressed or deeply explained within this article (ex. Environmental impacts of fracking, the value of sacred sites, cultural values, etc.), this is not meant to downplay their importance but instead to focus how social media activism plays a role in addressing the #NoDAPL movement*
In an age of social media, we want to believe that with a click of a button we can change the world. We want to make it clear that our intentions are genuine and that we hold all people who share this world in highest regard. So we update our statuses to send prayers to those who are hurting. We share articles meant to inspire action in our followers. And we spread a lot of information about current issues we may not fully understand in all of their magnitude.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is designed to cut through Sioux sacred sites and will be in proximity to their main source of water. A spill in this scenario would be a tragedy of mass proportions. This land has been treaty protected, yet now because there is a way for the United States Government to profit from it, that protection has been revoked.
For those not in the know, thousands of people are checking in on Facebook at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and Oceti Sakowan Camp to stand in solidarity against the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL or #StandWithStandingRock).
Checking in at these two places on social media despite not being there physically, is meant to help distract authority figures from possibly utilizing social media check-ins to target peaceful water protectors. This is an era where social media works as a tool to spread knowledge, but can also be worked as a targeting system for militarized forces. The more people checking in who are not physically there, the more confusing it can get for those trying to use the “check-in” as a tracking tactic. At this moment in time, according to the L.A. Times and the Seattle Times, there has been response from the Morton Sheriff’s office claiming that combing through social media check-ins is not a tactic being used to track the protesters. Regardless of whether or not this is happening, checking in at this location is a way to add numbers to a cause, no matter where in the world a person is. It says to the water protectors “your voice is heard, and we stand with you despite the miles that lay between us”.
Yet the symbolism of the check-in act can only go so far.
While a Facebook post may show virtual solidarity, there needs to be more. While an update can give hope, action gains results. Petitions are circling the web that take less than a minute to sign. Lists of donations are available just by pressing a link. November 8 (voting day) is just a week away. It’s time to use that vote. Not just presidential, but local.
In all of the info overload, we need to remember why all of this has become necessary. This issue was created by continued ignorance of the masses. We all begin this journey ignorant in some way, it is time to learn the real story from reputable sources. Not just media jargon meant to confuse the public with soundbites and twisted language. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where access to information is in our hands, we just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
Our ignorance has been grown off of the knowledge that Native groups are a history lesson we were never taught, that their significant existence ended when treaties were signed. We need to steer away from this way of thinking. It is about reeducating and reconstructing how we think about people as a whole. We are a community of one world which means we need to start acting like it. That means standing together when some within that community are being banned from living a safe and healthy life.
This movement is about more than water. It is about the decades of denied basic human rights and ignored treaties that has resulted in the tokenization of Native peoples within this country.
So it’s time to get educated on this issue.
Follow these groups on Facebook to follow what’s happening:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
I Stand With Standing Rock
Indigenous Environmental Network
Petitions to sign:
The end to violence means putting an end to ignorance and reestablishing the value of those who have been oppressed.
So get educated, and check in, and vote.