North Dakota is part of the five-state region we are charged with advocating on behalf of and we are horrified by the tactics being used to intimidate and break the spirit of Indigenous water protectors.
As a community foundation, community engagement and dialogue is critical. At issue is the tribal sovereignty and generational autonomy of Indigenous people impacted by the construction and maintenance of the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River, a source of drinking water for both the Lakota tribes along the major waterway as well as millions of Americans downstream.
In addition to the glaring impacts of continued fossil fuel production to climate change, the world view and autonomy of Indigenous, tribal communities must be respected. The approval and permitting process of this pipeline inappropriately excluded the tribal government of Standing Rock and was only temporarily halted by the orders of the U.S. Departments of the Army, Justice and Interior. Unfortunately, construction continues.
Actual attack dogs have been released. The dehumanizing arrests and detainments have been made. The guns have been loaded and drawn, the fires have been set against Indigenous people in Standing Rock and their allies. After all the struggles for human and civil rights in this nation’s history, it is unconscionable that these tactics are being used in 2016.
Over the past several months, escalation against the Indigenous people protesting the threat to their sovereignty, well-being and their descendants have reached an intolerable point. The governor of North Dakota activated the North Dakota National Guard as a security force for the oil company as well as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to bring out-of-state militarized police forces to quell the protests, including the three Minnesota counties of Anoka, Hennepin and Washington. The only weapons that water protectors have had on their side is prayer, non-violent direct action, fortitude and justice. One concrete action you can take, if you live in the Minnesota counties of Anoka, Hennepin or Washington is to call your sheriffs and county commissioners, asking them to never use officers at Standing Rock again.
In her speech at PFund Foundation’s 2016 Moxie Awards, Trista Harris, Minnesota Council on Foundations President, spoke on the realities of civic disasters like Standing Rock. “The most frustrating thing about civic disasters is that they are so utterly predictable. We know the broken places in our society and we know who is the most likely to be hurt in those places.” In their speech, Freedom Inc. co-executive director M Adams exhorted our community to be conscientious about our leadership. “If I am serious about my intersectionality work, it means that I am just as outraged at Orlando as I am in North Carolina. It means I show up to pride, but I also showed up when they killed Tamir Rice … Queer folks, we are defenders of human rights. Our claim to our families, to being able to love who we want to love, to be able to walk in the street, free of violence, to be able to exist is because we are human. Human rights are to be applied for everybody, not just us. So if we really believe in human rights, then we have to fight for human rights for everybody.”
As the Board of Directors of PFund Foundation, we join in this movement to protect land, water and people because we understand that our liberations as queer people and as Indigenous people are inextricably linked. We also understand that self-determination, autonomy and sovereignty are central to honoring our dignity as LGBTQ human beings struggling just to live.
We are calling our community to action. For those living in Anoka and Washington Counties in Minnesota, call your Sheriff’s Department and County Commissioners to recall their forces from Standing Rock, tell them these actions do not reflect the values of your community. The Hennepin County Sheriff completed its 10-day Emergency Management Assistance Compact obligation, but needs to know that to send officers to Standing Rock was a mistake that he should never make again. Three weeks ago, the Dane County Sheriff in Madison, Wis. recalled his officers after speaking with members of his community who objected.
Anoka County: Sheriff; Commissioners
Hennepin County: Sheriff; Commissioners
Washington County: Sheriff; Commissioners
Secondly, we are calling on our community who cannot be present at Standing Rock to make a financial contribution to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Sacred Stone Camp or the Red Warrior Camp as they continue to lead prayer, direct action and support one another through this trying time. While fighting for justice is difficult, many water protectors are Indigenous people who suffer from institutional racism from the outset, being marked with criminal charges for their activism continues to threaten their continued prosperity.
Sacred Stone Camp
Red Warrior Camp Legal Fund
Just two weeks ago, Native Americans in Philanthropy, with whom we share a suite, organized a funders tour at Standing Rock to illustrate how philanthropy can support Indigenous communities in the short- and long-term. Learn more by clicking here.