Talking to children about Standing Rock

This post is like many others on this website came from me needing to talk to my children about a complex issue.  I needed to do research in order to talk to my children about Standing Rock.  Below are some talking points I have prepared as well as a section on what we can do. I think it’s really important to just be honest about the situation and what you think about it.  You can hold off on giving your opinion and ask your children to say what they think first and why.  But it’s important to set a good example as caring humanists, environmentalists, and activists (you don’t have to go to a demonstration to be an activist).

What’s happening at the Standing Rock Reservation?

Members of the tribe, as well as other organizations and individual citizens, are protesting the construction of a pipeline that would go through the reservation.  The Sioux who live on the reservation will have sacred lands destroyed and are concerned about the Missouri River becoming contaminated by the pipeline, making their water undrinkable.  The US government responded to this protest with armed police officers and private contractors to move and intimidate the protesters who have now formed a resistance movement.

What is a resistance movement?

Quote from Encyclopedia kids, brackets are added by me: “A resistance movement is a group dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country [or within a country]. Tactics of resistance movements range from passive resistance [protests, boycotts, strikes, lobbying] and industrial sabotage [damaging or stopping something from being made or done] to what would today be regarded as terrorism [using violence and fear].”

What is a pipeline?

It’s literally a pipe that is laid over or underground that spans for many hundreds of miles.  The Dakota Access Pipeline will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois so that the oil can be turned into fuel and other oil based products.

What is the problem with this pipeline?

It poses a significant environmental threat

Quote from Every day feminism: “The proposed route of the DAPL crosses both the Ogallala Aquifer and Missouri River, which provides water for drinking and agriculture (that would be growing the nation’s food) to millions of people. The pipeline crosses the Missouri River just north of Standing Rock’s tribal boundaries; a pipeline break means Native people will be hit first and hardest.” This pipeline’s original route was rejected because of its potential impact on the city of Bismark’s water supplyIf the pipeline breaks, it isn’t just the Sioux living on the reservation that will be affected.  Millions living downstream will also have their drinking water contaminated.

The Sioux have been left out of decision making and democratic processes

The Public Service Commissioners approved the pipeline’s route without talking to members of the tribe.

That land belongs to the Sioux tribe

Quote from Our documents:  “In the 1868 treaty, signed at Fort Laramie and other military posts in Sioux country, the United States recognized the Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation, set aside for exclusive use by the Sioux people.” However, the government confiscated that land in 1877, reneging on that treaty, which is how they have justified running the pipeline through Sioux land.

What else is important to know?

This started out as peaceful resistance

The protesters themselves have been peaceful by physically blocking construction of the pipeline.  Law enforcement has responded by using pepper spray on protesters, firing rubber bullets at protesters (which actually causes a lot of damage and can still kill you), dogs have been set on protesters, protesters have been arrested or detained without being charged (violation of due process), and protesters have been held in dog cages.  All of these are human rights violations.

The Sioux have tried legal routes

One common complaint against protesters is that they aren’t using the law and legal system to fight their battle.  The opposite is usually true, which is the case for the Sioux of Standing Rock. The tribe has filed lawsuits, and they have been asking that construction be halted until they have pursued their case legally. But really, when you think about it, they shouldn’t have to go through this at all.

Pipelines are not as safe as you think

In the past five years, there have been over 3,000 oil and gas pipeline leaks. Here are some great websites to look at recent spills.

Investing renewable and clean energy sources is better

An energy company in Texas is funding the pipeline.  However, energy companies should be investing in ways to wean the United States off of fossil fuels in order to preserve the Earth.

What can we do?

Assuming you can’t or are unwilling to bring your children to the protest, what else can you do?

Donate money

Any money you donate goes to supplies for the protesters and legal fees that the tribe and/or protesters incur.  You can donate online or send a check.  Have your children with you as you make the donation.

Call a politician

If you live in North Dakota, call your governor.  You can also call the office of your state Senator or Representative and let them know you oppose the pipeline.  You can write a letter together with your child stating your feelings on the topic.  You can also call the White House.

Sign the petition

Again, do that with your child.  Let them see you oppose what’s happening in Standing Rock.

Send supplies

If you’re local, drop off supplies.  I’ve also heard of organizations organizing supplies drop offs including several UUCC churches.

Make a card or write a letter to show solidarity

This is probably the most direct thing your child can do.  Ask them to write a letter or make a card for the Sioux tribe showing their support and solidarity.  You can include some money in the card, or send it with some supplies.  I plan on giving my children some actual cash to put in their cards/letters in addition to an online donation.

Website with more details on ways to help the protesters at Standing Rock, with links to donation pages and the petition.

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