Kent State organizations support Standing Rock


Information from The Washington Post

Rachel Duthie

Kent State’s Native American Student Association (NASA) collaborated with Kent on Climate to create a week-long fundraising event called “I Stand With Standing Rock” for the Standing Rock Protectors, a group of protestors who are trying to prevent construction of the North Dakota Pipeline (DAPL).

“This event raises awareness of indigenous rights, environmental racism, the dangers of fossil fuels, and clean water in equal measure,” said Marisa Shepard, a junior translation major and president and founder of Kent on Climate. “Both of our groups harbor a deep respect for the earth and its inhabitants. We came together because we all felt moved by the efforts of the water protectors.”

Fundraising events have included an authentic Native American round dance at Risman Plaza and a taco dinner at the Kent State Student Center. On Thursday, the final event will be a concert series featuring local Kent bands at the Standing Rock Cultural Arts Center downtown.

Danielle Martin-Jensen, a Kent State graduate student and president of the NASA wanted to make sure both events empathized the equality of all people, while educating those who may know little about DAPL or Native American culture.

Both organizations hope to raise at least $1,000 from the events in order to provide legal defense and winter supplies for those protesting.

“We know that winter is coming and tensions are intensifying,” Martin said. “We wanted to offer tangible support in addition to the symbolic support we have offered in gatherings.”

The $3.7 billion project pipeline would carry 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the oil-rich Bakken Formation in North Dakota to the fields of Illinois. The Bakken is massive, with the area carrying an estimated 7.4 billion gallons of undiscovered oil, according to a 2013 U.S. Geological Survey.

DAPL’s controversy stems from its potential environmental and cultural implications in Standing Rock Reservation. Members of the Sioux tribe argue that its route crosses sacred ancestral lands and harms the reservation’s only remaining water source.

Since early April protestors have been lining the Cannon Ball and Missouri rivers in an effort to prevent further implementation of the pipeline. The movement has since grown to become one of nationwide media attention.

Creating the fundraiser was a “natural partnership” between Shepard and Martin, who looked at the opportunity of helping with passionate eyes.

“Stewardship has always been a part of indigenous worldview, and with the spread of environmentalism — not to mention the increasing alarm regarding Climate Change — we have no choice but to come together,” Martin said.

According to Shepard, this is the Native Americans way of standing up for themselves after years of oppression and racism.

“Most people do not know that this is the largest native gathering in over 100 years. What does that tell us? It tells us that this really matters,” Shepard said.

Both organization leaders urge college students to become more involved in the noDAPL movement, and to check out for more information about the pipeline’s environmental effects on Standing Rock reservation.

Rachel Duthie is a features correspondent, contact her at [email protected].