Students Walkout for #NoDAPL

“They’re still out there, fighting on the front lines, being abused and damaged mentally, physically, spiritually,” Philip Brayley PZ ’19, a member of the 5C Indigenous Alliance, said at the Claremont #NoDAPL walkout on Nov. 4. “Being here together is a way to show our support and recognize the work that they’re doing.”

#NoDAPL is a movement to support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its resistance to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline’s intended route, which was readjusted due to complaints about potential drinking water contamination by the population of Bismarck, North Dakota, would cross sacred areas and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as pose a threat to the tribe’s drinking water.

The 5C Indigenous Alliance, which organized the Claremont walkout, was founded and registered as an organization earlier this semester. According to Brayley and Charlotte Hughes PZ ‘18, another member of the Indigenous Alliance, while there are support-based organizations for indigenous students on campus, the Indigenous Alliance focuses more on political action.

“The Alliance started as a place where non-native and native students could work together to plan events around indigeneity, decolonization, colonization, all these words that we’ve learned in a lot of classes, that you hear across the 5Cs,” Brayley said.

The Claremont walkout, which was organized by the 5C Indigenous Alliance, was one of various #NoDAPL walkouts across the country on the Nov. 4. Brayley said that the national walkout was a response to a particularly violent episode between Standing Rock water protectors and National Guard members that occurred on Nov. 2.

“Water protectors were trying to cross a river to protect the sacred burial ground, and they were pushed back into the river. There was a line of police, a line of National Guard, and they were pepper spraying them, shooting them with rubber bullets, pushing them into the water ... This happened Wednesday, but it’s a continuous thing,” Brayley said.

According to Hughes, most of the walkouts on Nov. 4 occurred in Southern California, although they were part of a national movement. Brayley, Hughes, and Genevieve Kules PZ ’18, also a  member of the Indigenous Alliance, saw the Facebook event for the national walkout on Wednesday evening and seized the opportunity to show solidarity for #NoDAPL at the 5Cs.

“Pretty late the night before, we were like, ‘we have to do this,’” Hughes said. “”We made an event and sent out emails at two in the morning the night before, and still 40 or 50 people showed up the next day.”

After Brayley’s opening statement, attendees of the event on Friday were able to step forward and speak about the #NoDAPL movement.

Brayley said that shows of solidarity like the one on Friday are very important in the #NoDAPL movement.

“I think seeing all the people being in solidarity with Standing Rock is important for them … to boost their morale when they’re out there in freezing cold weather, wondering what they’re doing, maybe losing hope,” he said.

Brayley, Hughes and Kules emphasized that students who wish to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation have many opportunities to do so in Claremont.

Hughes encouraged students who may be planning a trip to Standing Rock to consider action that they might take from Claremont instead. She said that the water protectors at Standing Rock need bodies on the front lines of resistance who are able to be arrested, and worries that students don’t have the time for this kind of commitment.

“Rather than going all the way out there, I would say to get involved where you are. There are many forms of support,” Hughes said.

Brayley, Hughes and Kules said that donating money to the resistance movement is a particularly important form of support for the Standing Rock Tribe at this time.

“I think that there are a lot of people who are intellectually supportive and would give money,” Hughes said.

Kules said that the 5C Indigenous Alliance’s ideas to support the Standing Rock Tribe from Claremont include a clothes drive or a teach-in about the pipeline and the #NoDAPL movement.

Brayley said that self-education is the most important step that #NoDAPL supporters can take.

“Really get to know what the movement’s about, what the protectors are doing, because a lot of people … have no idea what the movement is about or what the people are doing it for,” Brayley said.

Hughes echoed Brayley’s sentiment about self-education.

“Once we are aware, then hopefully, we can be more active,” Hughes said.