What happens if this pipeline gets completed?
“It will be disastrous for the environment and 18 million people that live off of the water along this river and for the planet.
Is this resistance movement something that can move to another fossil fuel fight?
“I think so. It’s a matter of building organization and capturing the momentum. We have to be smart about that. A lot of times what we fail to do is capture the momentum and solidify an organization and move on to the next project. If we’re able to do that and build a network, yeah, we can do it.
What affect will Donald Trump’s election have on you??
“The racist attitudes people have been showing a lot more lately because they feel more emboldened by his election. I had coworkers come out and make some racist statements and before Trump they were really quiet about their feelings. Saying things about Mexicans or people of color, even using terms like “nigger” or “wetback” in the same sentence. When they use those terms, it’s hate speech. I don’t hate you, but I know that you hate me. I know your real feelings about me and my people. Liking my food or liking our women or tolerating us is not the same as accepting us, as embracing us as equal to you. That’s what it really comes down to, we’re not seen as equals, we’re seen as lesser than. It has a direct effect. Every time I drive into a white community now, I’m wondering, are these people going to call the cops on me, are they going to try kill me, try to beat me up? That’s a real fear that we have. Driving up to North Dakota, driving through Wyoming and other areas, and walking into a gas station that’s full of white people, and they all turn their head to look at you, I don’t belong there. Seeing those stares, I have to puff my chest out and hold my head up and say no, you’re not going to look at me that way. For someone else who does not have that strength, they may put their head down and get themselves beat. Because people will feel emboldened. That’s happening more often. We’re seeing it more attacks happening in our community. People being beat up, people being yelled at and harassed and threatened and one days it’s going to become more physical and someones going to get killed.
Do you have anything you want to say to white folks?
“Recognize your privilege. Stop hating, stop trying to be superman and trying to save us. Change comes from within, and everyone has to change. It’s a long process, because there’s an establishment. Systemic racism, and a lot of white people don’t realize it. They say “I like you people”, but they don’t understand the racist undertones and ethnocentrism that’s built into that kind of statement. When you go into a space that’s dominated by people of color who are trying to empower themselves don’t try to push your agenda or try to be superman. Respect the space and respect that they have the ability to organize and empower themselves. Lend a hand with resources, with knowledge, with money. Don’t try to save us or push an agenda on us and belittle us or talk down to us like we’re children, because we’re not. We’ve come a long way, and we do want to build community with white people. It’s not about hate, we’ve never been about hate, we’re just trying to empower ourselves, and see ourselves as equal human beings. This is a space that was created by indigenous people. The white people that come here respect that and respect our ways.”