North Dakota is a long way from Ohio, but that did not stop members of Indigenous Nations at Kenyon (INK) and the Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) from holding an informational event in solidarity with Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on Tuesday.
“Our goal first and foremost is to raise awareness,” INK Co-President Emma Schurink ’17 said on Tuesday “A lot of people would care but they don’t really understand what’s happening.”
The DAPL is a proposed oil pipeline that would run from North Dakota, across the midwest and into Illinois. Current plans would see the pipeline cross through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, disrupting sites sacred to the Sioux, including burial sites. The pipeline would also cross the Missouri River, increasing the possibility for pollution of the river, a source of water for many in the area. The issue garnered national attention recently after violence erupted on the reservation when the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners L.P. used attack dogs and pepper spray against protesters.
Around 30 students and professors, including, members of INK and ECO gathered on Ransom Lawn for the event. Many stood around holding signs with messages such as “Protect clean water!” and “#NoDAPL” while others were on their cell phones making calls about the issue to the White House, the governor of North Dakota, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio congressional representatives.
Tuesday was the official day to call the White House to speak out against the DAPL, according to Schurink. “The Obama administration has halted [the construction] to do more research, and we want him to put an official stop to it,” Schurink said.
ECO leader Matt Meyers ’17 said the event was not organized as a protest against the DAPL. “We were just trying to educate Kenyon about what’s happening there,” Meyers said.
The groups distributed flyers and articles about the issue to attendees and passersby and also collected money to support a trip Schurink and Meyers are planning to the reservation to join with Native Americans and others who are rallying there.
One attendee was Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies Royal Rhodes. He was glad to see students supporting the cause. “I think as citizens we’re all connected with these issues, not just for the specific Native American peoples in that region, but for our own national interest,” Rhodes said. “I think it’s a matter of conscience to be here.”