by Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
On Tuesday, November 15, protests in consolidation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were organized on the campus of UMass Dartmouth.
Over the past couple months, there have been protests occurring in North Dakota over the construction of a pipeline that will span 1,172 miles and carry oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. It could carry as much as 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
It has sparked several recent protests across America, with many citizens citing concerns about the possibility for the oil to contaminate nearby water sources and possibly damage local environments. The pipeline has become the center of a controversial debate across the nation.
Students at UMass Dartmouth joined the protests recently, holding a teach-in and speeches at the Frederick Douglass Unity House. It also served to host protestors and activists from around the area of southeastern New England.
The event was held in the Unity House common room, and started off with speeches and introductions from the members of the protest group. Many of them highlighted previous protests and various activists movements they had been a part of over time.
Citing environmental concerns with climate change and the importance of the impacts human civilization has on the environment, many were focused directly on the negative impacts this pipeline and the reliance on traditional forms of energy such as coal, oil, and natural gas could have for the future.
In addition to concerns about environmental impacts and damage, there was also a discussion of cultural appropriation and the distinct history America has had with tribes like the Sioux at Standing Rock. Many expressed concerns with the way the situation was being handled.
Morgan Peters, a professor of English and Black studies at UMass Dartmouth, also presided over the event. He spoke about the culture surrounding these protests and the history of Native American people with persecution.
At the event were also performances from the African song and dance class, featuring traditional instruments and as a way to show solidarity with the movement in Standing Rock. The songs were performed by steady beats accompanied with singing led Professor Peters.
The event lasted for about two hours and featured many dedications to the struggle of Native Americans within the land and how they had continued to struggle against “white oppression and an environmental racism that still continues today,” as Peters stated.
Within the debate was also the highlight of the struggles within Standing Rock were being reflected everywhere, including here with Peters own background and the various Native American tribes that used to live in Massachusetts as well.
Later that day, at an on campus basketball game, members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams knelt in solidarity and in memory of the struggles and protests taking place at Standing Rock. Members of the audience also joined in as well and took part in the gesture.
Surrounding the center of the protests is upcoming worries about winter, and this is one of the many concerns that people voiced at the Unity House sit-in. They worried about the struggles of the people come winter, and what it would mean to their cause.
To donate materials such as food, clothing and firewood to the NoDAPL protesters, visit greenpeace.org