Coachella Uninc. Weighs In: Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Editor’s Note: Native residents from the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota are in a seven-month-long protest against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline developed by Energy Transfer Partners. The indigenous activists say the oil pipeline will be built on their sacred land and will threaten the Missouri River, the reservation’s water supply. Thousands of people, including non-native groups, like Black Lives Matter, have since traveled to Standing Rock to show support for the movement. Coachella Uninc. youth reporters recently weighed in on the DAPL protests and the show of support from non-native groups. Read their responses below:

Indigenous peoples have been on the frontline fighting for environmental justice issues to protect the land that we all share. It’s time to end the ongoing illusion that we are separate or detached from global/national problems, especially in today’s heavily globalized world. We are more interconnected than ever so even though we are not in North Dakota, allowing the expansion of an oil pipeline that will cut through numerous rivers and culturally important territories is an issue for all who want to protect the land and stand in solidarity with indigenous populations of the world.

— Angel Melgoza  

Nature is a gift for all people but it’s taken for granted. The pipeline in North Dakota will lead to the decline of everyone’s resources on the earth and pollution will continue to worsen with the growth of the oil industry. The earth is not just one person’s home, it’s everyone’s home.

— Alejandro Meza Aguilar

The struggle to respect our land has been a struggle that many indigenous people have fought world wide. The DAPL impacts us here in the Coachella Valley because we also have local tribes who have issues with land and water. We should acknowledge the indigenous people in North Dakota and those here at home. It is always important to include the native people of this land.

— Anselmo Montez

A human can go without water for about three days. Water doesn’t abide by the borders created by humans. Water travels the world via the water cycle and knows no borders. Not only do we need water to survive, we need clean water. At least 60 percent of our bodies are composed of water. By allowing corporate interests to contaminate our water whether it is in our community or in a distant part of the earth we are allowing them to contaminate our food systems and our bodies.

— Araceli Beltran

Even though we’re not in North Dakota we do have tribes around here. So if the oil companies are showing they don’t care about treaties or policies or the law even, then what’s going to stop them from treating our local tribes in the same way? It’s disrespectful and the oil companies are disregarding everything just to make a profit.

— Alondra Jimenez

The US has a very long history of disrespecting and mistreating Native Americans and this is just another instance where an oil company thought, ‘It’s OK. No one is going to say anything.’ But there have been protests, like the one in LA recently. The whole situation is just so bad. It just makes me angry.

— Juliana Taboada

What stands out to me the most about he DAPL protest is how the protestors and the people there are being treated by the police and by the people trying to break up the protests. That kind of treatment gets normalized throughout history and it’s still happening today. That is something that can relate to anyone.

— Melissa Montez

Water is sacred and whatever violations are done to our water are ultimately done to every living thing on our planet. It doesn’t matter how close or how far you live from North Dakota, the water that they’re protecting is the same water that runs through the earth. It’s upsetting that just because our water doesn’t have a voice there are some people who think it’s ok to abuse it.

— Olivia Rodriguez

What do you think about non-native groups, like Black Lives Matter,  joining the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters?

I think it’s so awesome that people of color are coming together because I don’t think a lot of people tend to realize our liberation as Chicanos or Chicanas is directly connected to any other person of color’s liberation. Once they are free, we’ll all be free. When we see the Black Lives Matter movement joining the Dakota Access Pipeline protest it’s just so grand and large and it shows that we are going to stand in solidarity with each other because we all matter.

— Juliana Taboada

I think it’s powerful and necessary for people of color to come together. Solidarity equals power and power equals change. I think we can see the importance of people power and bringing people in to help support the cause, especially if anything ever happens here.

— Melissa Montez

It’s powerful to see BLM organizers joining the DAPL protest. We all have unique experiences of injustices that we face as a result of the oppression of our people throughout history, but it’s so impactful to see people come together and be aware of how our struggles are connected. I remember hearing a statement earlier this year that really stuck with me. Brittany Packnett, a BLM activist  said, ‘We need to stop calling ourselves minorities, we’re the global majority.’ Collectively, we can do anything.

— Olivia Rodriguez

I believe people of color are stronger together, and seeing BLM organizers join the DAPL protest is something beautiful. Groups of color have been divided in the past and even today by arguments of which group is the most oppressed in the United States. This is nothing more than a distraction placed to divide us and distract us from pursuing important issues like freedom, justice, equity and more. I am excited about BLM joining the DAPL protest and about the infinite possibilities in future collaborations between people of color.

— Araceli Beltran

People of color uniting to protest against the DAPL shows the gravity of the situation. In unison we can find a pathway to peace and environmental improvement.

— Alejandro Meza Aguilar

The fact that people of color, specifically Black Lives Matter (BLM), have come together to join the DAPL protest is empowering. Having historically marginalized communities come together as one in order to protect what is significant for each other is an act of solidarity and respect among the groups. More importantly, however, to stand together as one against militarized police officers is an act of resistance and decolonization.

— Angel Melgoza  

It is important for there to be solidarity amongst mobilization efforts made by people of color. Black Lives Matter is a big movement that has brought a lot of media attention. I believe it will positively impact the struggle that is being dealt with in North Dakota.

— Anselmo Montez

I think as people of color both groups can relate to each other and the treatment they’ve received from the US. It’s important for people of color to join together to make a statement. More people eqauls more power and it’s cool that they are saying people of color deserve to be treated equally.

— Alondra Jimenez

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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