By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer
There are a lot of different ways to spend your time off during winter break. Some people take it easy, some people work, and some people do something else entirely.
Sherry Anne André, a liberal arts major with concentrations in women and gender studies and philosophy, spent the week before this spring semester in Louisiana. There, she helped set up infrastructure to protest the planned Bayou Bridge oil pipeline.
André runs a non-profit organization known as the FANG Collective. “It used to stand for Fighting Against Natural Gas, but it doesn’t mean anything anymore because we do more than just that. We do anti-deportation work and anti-oppression work, and more.”
“The Bayou Bridge pipeline is really dangerous because it will go through some of the country’s largest wetlands and waterways as well as the Atchafalaya Basin, which is where a lot of [crawfish] fishermen work. It will also go through Bayou Lafourche which provides drinking water for over three-hundred thousand people including the United Houma Nation.”
André went on to explain: “The camp’s name, L’eau Est La Vie, means ‘water is life’ in French. It is run by five indigenous women called the Council, from tribes in the area and Lakota. That’s why this camp is really powerful, because it is being run exclusively by indigenous women on their land.”
Coincidentally, FANG Collective’s leadership according to André is, “predominantly women and people of color, whereas a lot of environmental groups are mostly white folks.”
“When the camp was first launched, it was actually on water,” she explained. “It was floating and moved around waterways, so you couldn’t just find it. I think within the next couple of weeks you’ll be hearing more about this camp.”
What André herself did “includes setting up a movement kitchen, which can feed anywhere from one to hundreds of people. We also spent time constructing tent decks, which are platforms on top of raised cinderblocks or other materials. The ground is wet because it is Louisiana and people can’t just camp out like in Standing Rock.”
“What’s also important about this pipeline is that it does connect to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. People keep saying that pipeline is over because it is in the ground, but it is going to connect to this one.”
“I want to make clear that a lot of people keep calling this and any other indigenous fight that pops up ‘the next Standing Rock’, but that’s not what it is. Standing Rock was in its own period of time and a movement that is still happening among those people. That’s something that’s separate.”
In response to being asked why this pipeline is less well known than the Dakota Access Pipeline, André said, “I don’t think people have heard a lot about it because once the Dakota pipeline fight was lost, people stopped paying attention.”
“All of the people who have been doing resistance work for so long have never stopped paying attention. They have plans that are ten years ahead of time – we need to be ten years ahead of them.”