We, Divest Amherst, stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, in support of their struggle for sovereignty and against the continued extraction of fossil fuels.
Energy Transfer Partners is building the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry half a million barrels of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching across 1,172 miles, the pipeline threatens the integrity of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers — the main source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and 18 million others. It would not only threaten water supply but also ancestral lands such as symbolic cairns, stone prayer rings and burial grounds. This violates Article 2 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty that guarantees rights to enjoy undisturbed occupation of their homeland, Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, which states that all agencies must determine if a proposed project disproportionately impacts Tribal or other minority communities, Executive Order 13007 on Protection of Sacred Sites, which mandates that each executive branch shall avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of sacred sites in managing federal lands, the Pipeline Safety and Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
When the 90 percent white town north of Bismarck said the pipeline posed a threat to their water and community, they were acknowledged. However, Energy Transfer Partners, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Justice refuse to provide the same level of consideration for indigenous people. The Army Corps rerouted the pipeline. They rerouted the pipeline to pass directly through North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a sacred burial site and the single major water source for the Standing Rock Sioux community. This is colonialism, systematic racism and deliberate injustice. It is a blatant disregard for native sovereignty. We cannot stand for this.
The violence incited by the National Guard and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department is a shameful reminder of how this country has historically repressed and exploited Indigenous people and other minority groups. Pepper spray, attack dogs, rubber bullets, Tasers and sirens have been chosen as attempts to “resolve” this conflict rather than reaching a consensus that listens to those who will be most affected by this pipeline and respects indigenous rights.
We express our gratitude to the Indigenous nations who have come together in this historic moment to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite centuries of oppression, indigenous people persist in resiliently protecting their water and ancestral lands. The Standing Rock Sioux have demonstrated that we cannot continue to let corporate greed poison water, destroy land, pollute air or further contribute to climate change, not only because we must protect our environment, but more importantly because the effects will be felt disproportionately by marginalized people.
We call on President Biddy Martin to fulfill Amherst’s role as a leader in education and adhere to the Native American Students Organization’s demand that the College release a statement in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Nation and against the violence incited by the National Guard and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.