“Every Native at Standing Rock — every Native on this continent — has survived the genocide of 100 million of our people. That means that every Indigenous child born is a victory against colonialism, but we are all also born into a fight for our very existence. We need that to be named and centered.” – Kelly Hayes, truth-out.org
Many Americans celebrated Thanksgiving this past month; it is important to recognize the many positive things about living in the United States. From the safety and security we have from not being in an active war zone to the marriage-equality laws passed in 2015, there are many things to be thankful for. More importantly, however, it is important to understand the conditions of those who aren’t as privileged. For a holiday that has roots with the exploitation of the First Nations people of North America, the irony and injustice of what is currently happening at Standing Rock, North Dakota is too much to bear.
To begin, it’s important to understand the travesty that is the history behind this national holiday of thanks. In school, many of us are taught that the “Indians” help the Pilgrims survive the first winter by teaching them the ways of the New World; that was that and everybody was happy. The reality is quite different:
Per the Manataka American Indian Council, when the first English explorers returned from the New World, they enslaved hundreds of the Patuxet people and left the rest to the mercy of smallpox. Following these explorers, the pilgrims made landfall. They eventually met Squanto, one of the last surviving members of the Patuxet people and an ex-slave. Squanto was vital in helping the Pilgrims adapt to the New World and securing peace between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. As more British settlers arrived and annexed more and more native lands as well as killed and enslaved more First Nations people, the Pequot Nation fought back.
The following Pequot War was bloody, culminating in the Mystic Massacre of 1637. The colonists ruthlessly murdered the Pequot men and warriors and burned the remaining women and children alive inside the longhouse. 700 Pequot people lost their lives that day. A “day of thanksgiving” was then declared by the colonists in response to their protection from the “threat of the heathens.”
Emboldened by their actions, the colonists attacked village after village, declaring thanks after every massacre. Many those who weren’t brutally scalped were subjected to a life of slavery. Eventually, the “American hero” George Washington suggested a national one-day-long celebration of thanks. The official Thanksgiving holiday was officially declared by Abraham Lincoln on the same day that he sent troops to fight against the Sioux Nation in Minnesota.
The mass genocide and massacre of First Nations peoples is a large part of American history, and one that is rarely explored. Even today, Native American issues are rarely, if ever, at the forefront of discussion. This brings us to today, where injustice against the Sioux First Nations people is still being committed in the name of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), with very little media and politician attention and action.
Essentially, the DAPL is 1,100 mile fracked-oil pipeline running from Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline crosses through Lakota Treaty Territory in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The DAPL would, then, not only negatively impact important cultural and religious sites for the Standing Rock Sioux, it would also endanger more than 8 million people’s access to clean fresh water.
Currently, there are two camps that are leading the NoDAPL Movement: Camp of Sacred Stones and Red Warrior Camp. The purpose of this movement is to enact direct non-violent action against the establishment of the DAPL. The resulting clash between NoDAPL protesters and the National Guard and local law enforcement has not been pretty.
We at ZainabRights support the NoDAPL movement and the protesters at Standing Rock. We cannot allow this to continue. But, for the many of us who love nowhere near North Dakota, supporting the NoDAPL Movement can seem like a challenge.
Per the NoDAPL movement themselves, there are multiple ways to help. The Camp of Sacred Stones has asked for donations to their Legal Defense Fund or to the tribe’s General Fund. In the links below, you will find two wish lists. Most of the items deal with the quickly approaching winter and sub-zero temperatures, such as snow tires or appropriate sleeping bags.
Donations to Voices of the Sacred (see link below) also helps support the NoDAPL movement. If you have the available time and funds to travel to Standing Rock, more and more protestors are constantly needed to impede the progress of the DAPL, even though a temporary halt of the pipeline was announced yesterday. You can register under the “Come to Standing Rock” task under the NoDAPL Solidarity link below.
Under the Free Thought Project link below, there are several phone numbers that you can call to demand a stop to the human rights abuses happening at Standing Rock. These include: Jack Dalrymple is the current governor of North Dakota, the White House, and the Army Corps of Engineers among others. We do ask that if you do decide to call these numbers, please be respectful.
Lastly, we have created a campaign here that gives you a template of a letter that can be emailed to the heads of the banks that are investing in this pipeline. Simply copy paste and push for your voices to be heard!
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” -Lao-Tzu
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