On Thursday, Feb. 16, UNCG’s Women and Gender Studies Program, along with the school’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program and Office of Intercultural Engagement, sponsored an informational event on the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NODAPL) in the EUC’s Maple Room.
The Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversy surrounding its production has been prevalent in the news for many months, but remains an unresolved issue. For those unfamiliar with DAPL, the potential pipeline would invade the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, violating treaties signed with the Sioux tribe by the United States in the 1800’s.
In order to provide information on the history and on the importance of the resistance of the DAPL, UNCG invited guest speakers — a selection of scholars who have been active in the resistance — to speak to members of the UNCG community.
Among the speakers was Native man, Nick Estes. He spoke extensively about the historical context of DAPL.
Estes spoke of his essay, ”Fighting for Our Lives: #NoDAPL in Historical Context,” as well as read sections of his writing to further educate attendees on why DAPL is a violation of agreements between the United States and the Native Americans. Its proposed production in the territories breaches the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and 1851.
Why should we care about these treaties? This was a question posed by Estes himself as he spoke. “Because they are your treaties too,” he said. Breaking these treaties made is not only a breach of agreement for the Natives, but for all in the United States.
The panel of speakers also consisted of the Native women, Jaskiran Dhillon and Melanie Yazzie. Throughout the event, they spoke at length as well about Native resistance, as well as opened the floor up for discussion between the panel members and the attendees of the event.
Issues that were also addressed in the discussion was the role of those, primarily non-Native people, who wanted to become involved in protesting as well as other forms of resistance against the oppression of Native peoples. Instead of encouraging attendees to go to Standing Rock and protest the pipeline — not only is this not feasible for many people, but the amount of people doing so is already plenty strong enough, the panel assured the listeners — look for alternative manners in which you can help.
One simple manner they addressed in which a person can help defund the production of the pipeline is to stop supporting those who are funding it. Further, the panelists said you may be doing so unknowingly. Many major banks are behind the funding of DAPL. In a handout provided by the members of the panel, they included a list of banks that are banking against the Sioux. Among these are Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, as well as dozens more.
Since having recognized that certain banks are in part responsible and requesting people remove their money from these banks, millions of dollars have been divested from them, and thus from DAPL. A quick web search will reveal whether or not your bank is behind the funding of the pipeline.
While a great deal of the reason people have been so passionate about halting the production of DAPL has to do with the location and the violence it will do to the Native people in which the pipeline will pass through, there are other reasons to oppose it as well.
According to the handout given at the event, the pipeline would “transport hydraulically fractured (fracked) crude oil, threatening the water supply for millions of people downstream.” In addition, it will undoubtedly cause environmental damage at some point in the future. While it may not be able to determine exactly when this damage will occur, the long-term effects of DAPL will be inescapably harmful to our planet.
The education provided by the panel members on DAPL to the UNCG community was not only beneficial in helping to educate non-Native people about the struggle of Native people and how the DAPL is harmful; but it was also powerful, as this education helped to further solidarity among different minority groups coming together to fight for Native people and their rights.
For further information on DAPL provided by the speakers, there is a documentary about Standing Rock produced by Viceland.