People from all over the world are flocking to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe encampment in North Dakota to support the months-long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which threatens the water supply of millions of people and is set to be built on sacred Native American land.
This week two New College students, partnered with Black Lives Matter Tampa, prepare to be among the hundreds who have traveled there to show solidarity.
Second-years Ximena Pedroza and Kayla Kisseadoo are preparing for a more than 30 hour drive to the Sacred Stone Camp this Friday to bring much needed supplies to the campsite and join the protest against the DAPL pipeline. They will be holding a donation drive for money and supplies every day of this week in Hamilton Center during dinner hours.
The co-founders of Black Lives Matter Tampa previously traveled to Standing Rock to ask elders how community members here in South Florida could best help them. They came back with a list of much-needed items and ways to support the struggle.
“One of the things they’re most concerned about is getting access to heat,” Kisseadoo said. “They’re asking for hand warmers, solar chargers, firewood and cold weather gear. It’s freezing up there and it’s only going to get colder.”
“They also need a lot of tent repair kits because they’ve been there for so long,” Pedroza said.
Making the drive is necessary because some desperately needed goods, like sharp items in tent repair kits or large quantities of water, cannot be taken on planes.
The New College students headed to Standing Rock want to make the purpose of the trip clear to others.
“We’re not going there to chill,” Pedroza said. “We’re not going there to drink peyote. It’s not Coachella. We’re going up there to work.”
“Don’t make this about us,” Pedroza said. “People wear masks when they’re protesting because when you are standing for sacred land your face doesn’t matter. You don’t matter. The land matters. The indigenous tribes matter. Water matters. That’s it. I want to make sure that when people talk about this they don’t talk about us but about the issue at hand. This is bigger than a person. Talk about Standing Rock.”
What are the best ways to support those in Standing Rock?
“You don’t have to be there to help,” Kisseadoo said. “Donating is really helpful. Educating yourself on what’s going on and help spreading the word on social media is also really powerful.”
The Council of Green Affairs will be holding an informational session about DAPL on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. on campus where Pedroza and Kisseadoo will be speaking. The two will also be holding a bake sale on Thursday, Nov. 17 to raise fund for supplies. For more information on how you can help those in Standing Rock, visit standingrock.org.