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Green Space: Dakota Access Pipeline trip

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Over fall break, eleven students drove to southern North Dakota to donate supplies and energy to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe resistance camp fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Hundreds of indigenous tribes from around the globe, along with non-Native allies, have stood in solidarity with the tribe, who have been staging nonviolent direct action demonstrations for months and launched a legal battle to stop the pipeline.

Those involved in the resistance call themselves water protectors, not protestors, as the movement is rooted in indigenous prayer and ceremony to protect the Cannonball River, the local section of the Missouri River and water source for the reservation, as well as thousands of people in the surrounding area.

The path of the pipeline, planned to stretch from northern North Dakota to Illinois, where it will connect to the Gulf of Mexico, passes half a mile from the reservation’s boundary and has already damaged sites of cultural significance of the tribe. The pipeline would transport up to 400,000 barrels of oil per day, posing threats to the cultural and environmental health of the Sioux. A common chant was “mni wiconi,” or “water is life” in the Lakota language.

Camping in a yurt in a nearly self-sufficient community, students volunteered in a variety of ways, from cooking, cleaning, chopping wood, organizing donations and witnessing ceremonies. Some joined the frontlines on Indigenous People’s Day, the morning after an injunction to halt construction was lifted the night of Sunday, Oct. 9.

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