Since April and through the beginning of December 2016, thousands of indigenous people protested in North Dakota against the access pipeline that was going to cross sacred burial grounds and the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The pipeline is meant to increase domestic crude oil production in the United States, while “protecting landowner interests and local environment,” according to daplpipelinefacts.com
Members of Lawrence community wanted to share their outrage for the pipeline by organizing an on-campus protest during Senator Tim Kaine’s visit. This involved chalking the campus with the phrase “Hillary Clinton doesn’t give a f*** about native people.”
“I unfortunately was in class during the on-campus demonstration,” said junior and vice president of Lawrence University Native American Organization (LUNA) Lauren McLester-Davis.
“I always want to participate in peaceful displays of my beliefs, and I wish I could have been there to support fellow Lawrentians and stand with Standing Rock. I personally feel that how the Dakota Access Pipeline has been planned and how it is going to affect native populations is unjust and environmentally, emotionally and culturally damaging.”
“[The issues] really intersect with general, global climate change and protecting the water source of North America [as well as] indigenous rights and indigenous sovereignty because it is happening on a reservation and it is targeted toward the reservation,” said senior Gillian Etherington.
“It was nice to see a lot of the community recognizing these issues,” began junior and co-president of LUNA Sam Bader. ”Now that this awareness is out, it would be great to see people advocating for indigenous issues.”
As of Dec. 4, 2016 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that it will not be drilling on the Standing Rock reservation.
Federal recognition that the pipeline will not go through the original route offers a sense of relief, but a sense of uncertainty still looms.
“This [federal recognition] does not mean that [the pipeline] is not going to happen. There is a possibility that it will go somewhere else through Missouri, which is still an environmental concern and is still indigenous land. All of the land in America is indigenous land,” said Bader.
LUNA encourages all types of student involvement.
“It was great to see a lot of different groups coming out to support this issue and it would be really awesome to see this continue, especially to help native people here on campus,” said Bader.
LUNA meets on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall 114, so if you are interested in learning more, contact presidents Sam Alika Bader and Cherise John for information. For the remainder of the year, LUNA plans on holding a variety of panel discussions similar to 2015’s “Pocahontas Revealed: Dismantling Native American Stereotypes.”
“LUNA is a body whose mission is to support indigenous people here. What better place than to start right here? It is a small community but it is present,” concluded Bader.