Today, Water Protectors on the frontlines of #NoDAPL in Standing Rock, North Dakota, are once again employing blockade tactics to stop the corporate assault on their community’s water supply. This action is part of an ongoing movement of protest, that has involved months of encampment, countless community prayers, and a series of radical direct actions.
The path of the North Dakota Access pipeline was intentionally rerouted to cross the Missouri River in treaty lands, so as not to endanger the drinking water of the state’s capital. This blatant act of environmental racism should be squarely denounced and opposed by all who value Native lives, sacred waters and justice itself.
In keeping with our continued solidarity with Indigenous peoples who are fighting state violence, environmental racism and other harms of colonialism, Lifted Voices extends our unyielding support to the Water Protectors of the #NoDAPL protests. As a collective, we are Brown and Black, femme and non-binary, and we believe that Brown and Black solidarity is essential to the overthrow of oppressive systems.
Having formed relationships with some of Standing Rock’s local resistors in the spring, when the Sacred Stone encampment began, we were asked to send trainers and other resources to the camp. In June, we visited the Sacred Stone camp, and conducted a blockades training. Working in concert with arts and media trainers from The Indian Problem — a collective that’s membership overlaps with our own — we provided every resource we could manage, as these Water Protectors are not only fighting for Indigenous self determination, but for the source of all life itself: water.
In late August, one of our trainers returned to assist with another nonviolent direct action training, and to provide any other assistance that our skill sets and resources might lend to the moment.
Like state violence, environmental racism is a harm experienced in epic proportions by both Indigenous and Black communities. As a Brown and Black collective, working in an urban environment, we are honored that our curriculum — informed by the creativity of both Brown and Black femmes and non-binary people, resisting state violence in Chicago — was welcomed in a sacred space of Indigenous struggle.
We appreciate our local community for helping us to remain ready to deliver in such crucial moments, and we will do our best to continue to do so.
Our work happens at the intersections, and as Black Lives Matters organizers recently demonstrated, by sending a delegation to visit Standing Rock, we are living in a moment of historic possibilities. Bridges that the oppressors don’t want built are being envisioned, and we will do all we can to help construct them in real time, as each of us sorts through the work of survival, solidarity and action.
We ask that you join us in assisting our Indigenous family at Standing Rock by contributing funds, travelling to Standing Rock to hold space (all are welcome) and joining us as we gather with Black Lives Matter and other #NoDAPL supporters to hold vigil on Thursday (9/8) for the powerful resistors on the frontline of this struggle. We will gather beside the Chicago River, on Michigan Avenue, to show our solidarity with the Standing Rock struggle to preserve Native waters and Native life.
Native peoples have historically experienced white supremacy in the form of erasure and annihilation. To counteract that invisibility, we must do everything we can to make this stand seen and heard. Talk about #NoDAPL. Share news stories. Engage with your community about how you can support. Demand that the mainstream media cover these events.
Solidarity must be more than a declaration. As a mere political position, it contributes little to anyone’s liberation. Native freedom fighters on the frontlines are determined to do whatever it takes, and we owe it to them to do whatever we can.
So help them.
Help them hold back the violence of the state, and halt a pattern of environmental violence that has brought our climate to the point of catastrophe.
We ask that you join us, in whatever ways you can, by not simply declaring solidarity, but by taking whatever action you can to support the Water Protectors. Attend rallies, donate, travel there if you can and continue to share and reshare their stories on social media. History is shaped and reshaped by the power of storytelling, and this is a story that needs to be told — for the sake of Standing Rock, the Lakota, all Native peoples, and for the sake of the earth itself.
To our friends on the frontlines: In our hearts, we are still hand-in-hand with you, saying these words:
We are built from the ashes of the extinguished
From the blood of what couldn’t be killed
The fire that will consume empires
Born as clenched fists
Survival made material
And our dreams will empty cages
C0-signed in solidarity:
Black Lives Matter Chicago
The Chicago Light Brigade
Chicago League of Abolitionist Whites (CLAW)
The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS)
The Detroit Light Brigade
Groundwork for Praxis
Ithaca to Standing Rock Solidarity Collective
International Marxist-Humanist Organization