A version of the attached letter was circulated for signature among faculty at The New School.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I hope this finds all of you well at the semester’s start. I am writing to request your signature for a letter I have drafted in support of the Standing Rock Sioux in their resistance efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In many ways, this is a monumental fight that very much represents our current social and political moment. But it also signals the deeply problematic terrain of settler colonialism that continues to be ever-present in the lives of Indigenous Nations and their communities — and this includes the high incidence of violence against Indigenous women and girls, which is linked to extractive projects.
I have been working alongside Indigenous communities in Canada for almost two decades now. Standing Rock is directly south of where I grew up, on Treaty Six Cree/Métis territory in Saskatchewan. I had the honor of spending some time on Standing Rock this month. There are unprecedented numbers of tribal nations coming out in support, allies standing in solidarity from across so many movements (including a strong presence from Black Lives Matter). It’s pretty incredible and inspiring. They have set up camp and are holding the line against another massive fossil fuel project that will directly threaten the water source for so many people. Elders, children, youth, families, singers, dancers, artists, AIM (American Indian Movement) fighters, lawyers, writers, and everyday people are peacefully defending the land and water. A school has been established to support the education of children and youth who remain at the camps with their families.
There is also the largest police presence — US Marshals, FBI, and state police — I have ever witnessed. They have blockaded the highway to Standing Rock with cement barricades and the location on Highway 1806 where the blockade begins is itself highly militarized. You can’t even enter without taking several secondary roads through the reservation and then weaving your way back north to the frontlines. Amnesty International USA is calling for the removal of the barricade, explaining, “the U.S. government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous people, including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express their opinion.” North Dakota has also recently pulled relief resources and water tanks from the growing protest camps in an effort to quell resistance. And on September 3, 2016 the Dakota Access pipeline company used their private security force to attack peaceful protestors with dogs and pepper spray as the resistance efforts against the $3.8 billion pipeline project intensified.
Here are some resources if you want to learn more:
Construction on the pipeline has been temporarily halted pending a US federal court decision that is expected to come down on September 9th, 2016. The fight is far from over and I’m working with my Indigenous comrades to spread the word.
I know this is a busy time of year, but please consider lending your support by clicking the following link and signing on:
Please reach out to other faculty and members of your programs/departments who would be willing to support this as well. Once we have collected all of the signatures we will be sending the letter to Standing Rock and publicizing it widely. Hopefully other universities will also be getting on board (several institutions across the United States have already issued statements).
With respect and gratitude,
p.s. A big thank you to Jonathan Bach, Chair of Global Studies, and Geeti Das for helping me get this out there, and to my Global Studies colleagues for standing up.