The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a pipeline intended to carry fracked oil 1,100 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. When DAPL was originally planned, the route was intended to cross through the Missouri River north of Bismarck, ND. The Army Corps deemed that the pipeline would be a risk to the people of Bismarck, potentially contaminating the city’s water sources. Re-mapping south of Bismarck, DAPL was adjusted to cross through sacred burial grounds violating treaty agreements between the Great Sioux Nation and the United States government. The new route now avoids contaminating Bismarck’s water, but threatens to contaminate the drinking water of the Standing Rock Reservation, the sixth largest land area reservation in the country, home to the Hunkpapa Lakota and Yanktkonai Dakota people. A break in DAPL is almost inevitable; the EPA reports an average of 20,000 oil spills per year of varying capacity in the United States.
A federal violation, the Dakota Access Pipeline disregards and disrespects the Fort Laramie Treaty established in 1868. Unfortunately, this type of occurrence is nothing new in the history between Native American people and the United States government. Since the genocide of Native American Indians and the establishment of Indian Reservations, approximately 500 treaties have been violated, putting government interest and profit over the lives of the original people who call this landmass home.
Protests against the pipeline began earlier this year. The number of water protectors has grown over the last several months in response to the violent behavior of the security personnel and police officers working to protect the assets of Dakota Access, LLC., the private company building and managing the pipeline. With the limited media coverage and lack of support from politicians, it has become painfully clear that there is little regard for the original inhabitants of North America and their claim to the most basic element of all living things: water.
Though the many tribes of North America hold different mythologies, there is a unifying belief that we emerged from the earth, the Mother, and are interconnected with all things, a part of the whole. The earth is not ours to take from for material needs, we are here because of her; she supplies us with what we need to exist, and in return, we are here to protect her and to honor her. This ideology manifests itself on the DAPL site at Standing Rock, where land once unchanged by human hands is considered sacred for worship and eternal rest. Our continued disregard and destruction of nature, in what we call “progress”, is an assault on the earth, an assault on the Mother. This is why the protestors are named “water protectors” as over 100 different tribes from around the country have come together in support of Standing Rock, the Sioux, and Mother Earth.
As creatives, it has been said that our role is to define culture by creating the myths and folklore, which can define how our society responds to the transforming world. The creative in contemporary times has the most difficult challenge in art history, as we must respond to the quickening change of our civilization and adapt continuously. Fortunately, we have been given the tools to interact seamlessly across the country and the globe. Through collectives like CYL and the Rising Tide Society, we form a network to interact with, exchange ideas, and potentially stay ahead of the curve, carving out the right path for the next steps.
Through this fundraiser, we hope to utilize this growing network by providing an outlet for creatives to stand with Standing Rock. Although many of us cannot make the journey to literally stand with the water protectors, we are here to support the Native American people and honor our treaties. “Makers for Standing Rock” gives us the chance to draw upon our skills by making tangible contributions to the families of Standing Rock while using our online presence to inform our greater communities. We stand with Standing Rock, Native American Indians, and Mother Earth.