A large group protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Image courtesy of AFP/RobynBeck/Getty.

Dave Matthews, as well as other musicians to be announced, will be supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline with a benefit concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, November 27th. 

On the issue of the pipeline as a whole, Dave Matthews said:

“How can we continue to allow oil money to dictate our environmental and social policies? The people of Standing Rock, and those who are supporting them, are standing up for their children and all of our children. We are letting the Dakota pipeline silence their voices. Not only are they desecrating sacred lands, but they also threaten to poison the Missouri River.” -Dave Matthews

The funds raised will help provide supplies, legal assistance and other necessities to the “water protectors” – the protesters who are currently at the front lines of the tribe’s fight. Hundreds of water protectors have occupied an area adjacent to the pipeline’s path since April. Following the concert, grassroots efforts will take place throughout the day in Washington, DC on Monday, November 28.

The pipeline will cut through land that belongs to the tribe based on the terms of a 19th century treaty and will go under the Missouri River, threatening the Reservation’s water source. Protests around the pipeline have been going since August of this year, when construction started nearing the sacred land. It’s the first large protest in the country lately that hasn’t had to deal with police brutality, and yet it still has led to arrests and circulation of the word “riot”.

Social media presence surrounding the pipeline is at an ultimate high, especially lately with the #NoDAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) hashtag trending. After Facebook allowed Geofeedia, a company that provides geographical information to officers on the whereabouts of protestors, to access user’s real time location, many were afraid of police using this information, or “check ins” to target protesters. This led to a wave of people publicly checking into Standing Rock and surrounding areas on Facebook in order to confuse law enforcement.

Protesters at the site of Dakota Access Pipeline. Image courtesy of AFP/Robyn Beck/Getty.

While police have stated that they are not confusing them, protesters say that any public attention to their cause is good and that Facebook check-ins have helped circulate petitions and the contact information of public officials and politicians who are key members in the creation and regulation of the pipeline.

A recent explosion of an oil pipeline in Alabama, which killed one and injured a few more, has not helped the situation. While the environmental and safety risks of the Pipeline are valid enough to spark protests on their own, another key issue is the treatment of the Sioux Indians of the Standing Rock area. Construction of the pipeline is a slap in the face to them as they are again having to give up sacred land for industrial expansion.

With such progress as schools celebrating Indigenous Peoples day instead of Columbus Day, and higher levels of understanding around cultural appropriation, specifically at music festivals and during Halloween, one would think that the voices of native people would be heard more.

Actress Shailene Woodley protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, image courtesy of WireImage/John Lamparksi/Getty.
Actress Shailene Woodley protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, image courtesy of WireImage/John Lamparksi/Getty.

However it appears that President Barack Obama could be hearing them. In a recent interview, he stated:

“My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans.” -President Barack Obama

The president’s statement means that we will hear an answer soon. Hopefully it will be a decision that respects and uphold the environment, public safety, and, most importantly, the rights of first Americans.


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