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Why You Should Care About the Dakota Access Pipeline

You may have heard about the arrest of Shailene Woodley, you know, the girl from Divergent, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green? Well, she got arrested and you may be thinking “oh, just another star going down the wrong path,” but she got arrested for peaceful protesting.

Okay, so she was technically arrested for trespassing, but it was during a peaceful march being done with many other people, many of whom where Native Americans. It’s pretty much B.S., but her arrest was broadcasted to 1.2 million people, a rather large number, as she was filming the incident via Facebook Live. On top of that, celebrities are now standing up in support of Woodley, and against the pipeline which she was protesting when arrested. While her arrest was completely outrageous, it did manage to bring a lot of attention to the NoDAPL movement, one that, in my opinion, hasn’t been receiving enough attention. So it can definitely be argued that some good came out of the endeavor as a star has used their power in a positive way and for activism.

You might be wondering what the big deal is, and even more so why you should care about the DAPL. The Dakota Access Pipeline is extremely close to the Standing Rock reservation, the home of the Sioux tribe, and if installed will run through ancient prayer and burial sites. The pipeline will also run through a major water source for not only the tribe, but North and South Dakota as wholes. Pipelines are known to burst, and if a pipeline were to burst in the Missouri river many people and animals would go without water including the Sioux tribe. This would cause the entire tribe to relocate or completely disband.  The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day, which is cause for concern for many environmental activists who worry about endangering local waterways.  

If the threat to the water supplies isn’t upsetting enough, you should care because of the inarguable racism and prejudice being shown to Native Americans. They are a people who began civilization on this land and had it taken away and are still being mistreated by our government and corporations. We have to care about and defend this culture because the pipeline has already bulldozed through a native burial site, a site which was given to the tribe by the U.S. government. Is this not racism? Is this not a blatant disregard for the Native American race? Shouldn’t we care that ancient burial and prayer sites are being destroyed?

And to make matters even worse, people at Standing Rock were attacked with dogs. A private “security” company was hired, and willingly attacked native protestors with dogs. I repeat, people actually used dogs to attack peaceful protestors. This is kind of similar to what happened when African American’s started demanding rights, which shows that our society really hasn’t progressed when it comes to minorities demanding humane treatment.  This is also ironic because Woodley has a past of being committed to different causes, one of which was for an organization providing shelter for abandoned dogs.

Since her arrest, Shailene Woodley has expressed thanks to her supporters and also gratitude that people are joining her cause.  On “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” she urged Hillary Clinton to tighten up on her environmental conservation policies. “I think what would benefit Hillary Clinton’s campaign is if she used opportunities like the pipeline being built.”  The project has been halted since the protest and Woodley, who was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders’, said this is “beautiful” but that “a win is when they say ‘we are not moving this pipeline to some other location, to affect clean water, but we are going to stop it and nix it.’ ”

Whether you care because of Shailene Woodley, water, or the apparent racism, this is actually a matter that effects everyone. No matter what reason you pick, there is one to tell others to use their voice to stop the DAPL. Stand by Woodley and the Native American culture, take advantage of social media, and show that you care. #NoDAPL

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Jessinta Smith

Old Westbury

Jessinta is a Media and Communications major at SUNY Old Westbury, and has written for varying outlets including Out.com and StudyBreaks. She edits, writes, and is CC for HCOW, and discusses everything from mental health to politics. To see more of her work or get in contact with her, visit jessintawrites.wordpress.com.
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