President Donald Trump’s decision to disregard environmental and ethical considerations and push the Dakota Access Pipeline forward left local activists upset.
Local activist Jessie Brown has made three trips to Standing Rock, where water protectors stand in the way of the pipeline, as a medic and has no intention to stand down.
“I will continue to stand with my brothers and sisters who are continuing to protect our Mother Earth. Who are continuing to stand up for our water, treaty rights, and human rights. I will continue aiding my brothers and sisters of the Medic & Healer Council and ensure that they have supplies and have the support they need,” Brown says.
Throughout her three trips, she saw and experienced many powerful moments. One of the biggest moments she remembers is seeing a seven year old girl who had been met with pepper spray and rubber bullets.
“She sat in our decontamination station, slumped over in defeat, cold from the hypothermia, her skin burning from the pepper spray and her leg bleeding from the rubber bullet wound. That look of defeat on her broke my heart to pieces and there was nothing I could do other than assist in getting her warm and attending to our other patients. That is one thing that will never leave me and will always be a reason to continue fighting,” Brown said
“As an indigenous womym from South America, a survivor of settler colonialism and a witness to one of the biggest pipeline faults that occurred in our Amazon River, I am with my brothers and sisters at Standing Rock,” says Nazka Serrano, an Ecuador native and current Madison resident.
“In Madison I have seen many amazing initiatives taking a stand to stand with the water protectors of Standing Rock but we need to work in solidarity knowing that indigenous peoples are in front of this fight,” Serrano says. “White allies who choose to come to our spaces need to understand this is nothing new, that this is fight that has been happening for more than 500 years and not see this struggle for what its’s not. This struggle is not a facebook photo opportunity, it is not an event, it is not a “free-hugs” peace and love space, it is a fight for people’s lives, our mother earth and indigenous liberation. Allies must follow our lead and show up ready to make commitment, listen, ask and respect sacred indigenous spaces of resistance.”
“I’m very upset about it,” says Alexandra Tiger, a University of Minnesota student. “It’s
a continuation of the genocide against Native people and his disregard for tribal sovereignty and lack of respect for the earth. I think that his decision to push forward a pipeline that has been largely contested shows that he is not committed to the people he is supposed to represent. Trump is invested in the pipeline and that conflict of interest is concerning. I think that it’s an important reminder since the white community there didn’t want the pipeline on their land or endangering their water. This is important because they rerouted the pipeline out of fear of their water being poisoned yet criticize natives with the same concern. The oil company set to build it is also a private company- not a federal job. So Trump signed to further privatize oil in the states
If you are looking to support those at Standing Rock, Tiger has some advice.
“Educate yourselves about treaty rights, sovereignty, the history of native people,” she says “Knowledge is power, and the more you know the easier it is to follow everything and the impacts that Trump’s presidency has. Sometimes just listening to Native people and what we have to say can be really beneficial. I know so many strong, educated Natives in the Madison area who would be willing to sit down and have a conversation about ways to help Native people and show support during these times. Being an ally is one of the best things anyone can do to support Native communities. Alternatively, donate to people out at Standing Rock. They need support to keep warm and stay safe in dangerous weather.”
Trump signed an executive order Tuesday affirming his administration’s commitment to the Dakota Access Pipeline forward, despite months of protests by indigenous people and their allies, who fear the pipeline could endanger their water and violate sacred grounds.