Students at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., took part in a rally and a march Thursday in a show of solidarity for Native Americans fighting against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
As previously reported on The Root, resistance to the $3.8 billion pipeline has been strong from the beginning. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe argues that pipeline construction is desecrating sacred ancestral lands and that the pipeline itself endangers the Sioux’s major water suppliers: Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. Demonstrations in North Dakota have been going on for months and have resulted in a construction halt in the area immediately surrounding Lake Oahe.
Despite multiple requests from Native Americans and the Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction, Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, said in a statement Tuesday that it plans to push forward with drilling under Lake Oahe within the next two weeks.
Thursday’s demonstration on the Stanford campus was the idea of Carson Smith and Chon Hampson-Medina, two student employees at Stanford’s Native American Cultural Center, who began planning the event five weeks ago, the Stanford Daily reports.
Smith, who is affiliated with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, explained in an interview with the Stanford Daily the significance of DAPL construction for indigenous people.
“DAPL calls into question how the government treats sovereign nations like these tribal sovereign nations and not respecting or honoring these agreements,” Smith said.
Hampson-Medina is an affiliated member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and is concerned about the problems the pipeline will cause for the drinking water that Native and non-Native communities depend on from the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
“You literally can’t live without water,” Hampson-Medina said. “This pipeline has the potential to contaminate a body of water that is drinking water for 18 million people, including mostly nonindigenous people.”
Thursday’s rally at Stanford featured speakers from the Stanford American Indian Organization, the Indigenous Feminists group and other members of the Native American community.
Hampson-Medina said that there will be a national call to action Nov. 15 for the Standing Rock protests.
“This isn’t a fight for indigenous people; this is a fight for all people,” Hampson-Medina said. “We must choose the planet over profit. We must choose to stand with Standing Rock.”
Read more at the Stanford Daily.