Reconciliation through Education: Five Years after Standing Rock, the Movement Continues
Pictured Above: Mni Wiconi banner on display at the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannonball, ND in 2016
July 15th marked the 5th anniversary of a prayer run that brought the #NoDAPL movement into the public consciousness. On that date in 2016, Indigenous youth living in the Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock began a 2,000+ mile run from North Dakota to Washington D.C. to demand a stop to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by oil/gas company Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline, which began operating in 2017, is opposed by Native water protectors and allies of the #NoDAPL movement for various reasons, including its high risk of polluting water sources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the communities in its path, its disturbance of sacred burial sites during construction, and its role in the larger climate crisis facing the world today.
United by the belief that Water is Life (Mni Wiconi in Lakota), the #NoDAPL movement began to grow throughout 2016 as water protectors came together at the Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Reservation. The camp, located near the site of DAPL construction, would eventually become the largest gathering of Indigenous nations in modern American history. Following months of demonstrations at the camp and across the nation, construction of the pipeline was briefly halted by the federal government in December 2016. However, an executive order by then-President Trump rebooted the DAPL project and led to its completion in mid-2017.
There were at least five leaks from the DAPL during its first six months of operation, and though the pipeline is currently under environmental review by the Army Corps of Engineers, oil continues to flow through it today. As a result, Lakota youth leaders recently announced plans for another youth run to demand a full shutdown of the DAPL by President Biden.
Pictured Above: Oceti Sakowin Youth completing their 3-week journey while running to the headquarters of the Army Corps of Engineers in Washington D.C. in August 2016. Photo by Juliana Britto Schwartz
Bobbi Jean Three Legs, who helped organize the 2016 run to DC, joined the Tipi Raisers and Colorado Young Leaders for the Inspiring Action Speaker series earlier this year to share her experiences living at the Sacred Stone Camp and organizing the run. Three Legs, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Hunkpapa Oyate), was inspired to become a water protector after imagining what it would be like if there was no clean water to give to her young daughter. She continues to organize youth in her community around efforts to protect their land and water (Inspiring Action Speaker Series with Bobbi Jean Three Legs).
As we continue to commemorate five years since the height of the #NoDAPL movement throughout the fall and winter, stay tuned for future Reconciliation through Education newsletters on this topic.
More resources on Standing Rock listed below.
A comprehensive history of the events at Standing Rock from the Reclaiming Native Truth project:
A reflection by Sacred Stone Camp founder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard on the past and present desecration of Indigenous land, water, and life at the hands of government officials and extractive industries:
On Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock and the environmental and cultural concerns surrounding pipelines:
“Tribes Across North America Converge at Standing Rock, Hoping to be Heard” A report from PBS NewsHour
“The Standing Rock resistance and our fight for Indigenous rights” A TED Talk from Tribal Attorney Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation https://youtu.be/wD3-6JIUF7M
On the Indigenous youth activism that inspired the movement and continues to create change today:
“The Youth Group that Launched a Movement at Standing Rock” from the New York Times
“Native Youth Deliver Petition Against Pipeline to White House” from Colorlines
“Standing Rock Lakota youth announce 93-mile relay run calling for Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline” from Indian Country Today https://indiancountrytoday.com/the-press-pool/standing-rock-lakota-youth-announce-93-mile-relay-run-calling-for-biden-to-shut-down-dakota-access-pipeline
Pictured above: The Dakota Access Pipeline as seen from New Salem, ND
Sources for this blog post include: Colorlines, NBC, The New York Times, the Reclaiming Native Truth project, The Intercept, and Indian Country Today
Reconciliation through Education: The Truth Emerges about Native Boarding Schools
The recent discoveries of mass graves at several Canadian residential school sites have prompted discussions around the painful history of boarding schools for Native children in the United States. Beginning in the 19th century, children at the over 367 Native boarding schools run by government and religious officials in the US often faced abuse and neglect (Seattle Times). Many of these schools remained in operation until the 1990s, and around 70 Native boarding schools are still operating today. A 1928 report ordered by the Department of the Interior found that death rates for Indigenous children in boarding schools were around 6 times higher than the average death rate for other ethnicities (NARF- Meriam Report). A new initiative announced in June by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland aims to identify boarding schools, locate burial sites, and coordinate with tribes to repatriate the remains of the children buried in mass graves.
While the stories of boarding school survivors are often horrifying, we believe they are necessary to hear if we are to begin reconciling this history.
More resources on this topic listed below.
Pictured Above: Fort Lewis College, with origins as an "Indian Boarding School", display
Last week our Gen7 Youth Leadership group stayed at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. We visited a display on campus chronicling the history of the school - which started as a military fort and then became an "Indian Boarding School". The school acknowledges that the display is white-centered and has a plan to replace it in a way that more accurately reflects the real history.
The school offers free tuition to qualified Native American students which make up 26% of all degrees awarded at the school. "In 1911, the fort's property and buildings in Hesperus were transferred to the state of Colorado to establish an "agricultural and mechanic arts high school." That deed came with two conditions: that the land would be used for an educational institution, and was “to be maintained as an institution of learning to which Indian students will be admitted free of tuition and on an equality with white students” in perpetuity (Act of 61st Congress, 1911). Both conditions have been the Fort Lewis school's missions and guides over the past century". Source: https://www.fortlewis.edu/about-flc/history
Pictured Above: Chiricahua Apache students four months after arriving at the Carlisle Indian School.
Account from Lakota tribal member, Walter Little Moon, of his experiences at various boarding schools: https://listen.sdpb.org/post/boarding-school-memories-haunt-lakota-man?fbclid=IwAR02uWcBrwYM-50yMH4t-Yje6qvn8k2ZjP10BCydscVEk3aGbrUg6ebG63w
On the history and lasting effects of boarding schools in the United States:
“Death by Civilization” from Mary Annette Pember for the Atlantic
“American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many” Part 1 of a story from NPR
"American Indian School a Far Cry from the Past" Part 2 of a story from NPR
On the recent discoveries of mass graves at Kamloops and other residential school sites around Canada:
"How Some Children at the Kamloops Residential School Died"- Source: CBC News
On truth, reconciliation, reparations, and the recently announced federal initiative to investigate boarding schools:
“Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Announces Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to Shed Light on Dark History of the Boarding School System”
“U.S. Boarding Schools Were The Blueprint For Indigenous Family Separation In Canada” an interview and article from NPR
A list of books on this topic, primarily by Indigenous authors, can be found at this link:
Pictured above: students at the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial School in Michigan, circa 1910
A Lakota elder who speaks to our groups teaches us that reconciliation is "moving toward our own divinity" and that is where you will find forgiveness. Other – more traditional – definitions would say that it is simply about moving on after a disagreement. This is complex work with no agreed-upon definitions. It is wrought with generations of trauma from broken treaties, attempted genocide, overt racism and white guilt. We approach it with humility, curiosity and a deeply held conviction to get it right over time.
Our Reconciliation through Education newsletter seeks to engage us all in the work of reconciliation by deconstructing misconceptions, illuminating truths, and guiding us toward a deeper understanding of the shared history between Native and non-Native people.
It is only in understanding this history that we may begin to reconcile it. We invite you all to join us in this space as we discuss and share resources on various historical, cultural, and current events topics. We also invite you to follow along on our Facebook page each Friday as we continue to share out some of our Reconciliation through Education topics and resources - and check out our previous Friday posts if you have not already!
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