How to Support Standing Rock Now?

Three big things have happened recently that change a lot, but not everything, about how to stop the pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers announced it would NOT be granting an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline — a huge win for water protectors, indigenous people everywhere, and the future of life on the planet.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse entering the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

An estimated 5,000 U.S. veterans showed up to camp, prepared to be human shields for the water protectors. While they were there, they apologized to Native elders for the atrocities against Native peoples committed by the military units they belong to. This is a huge breakthrough.

And a winter blizzard blew in, with single-digit temperatures, strong winds, and icy roads, making life at camp extremely difficult.

Then Standing Rock Chairman Archambault, in light of all these changes, thanked the supporters and said it is time for people to leave the camp and go home.

That said, Energy Transfer Partners insists that the pipeline will go through.

So what do we do now to secure this win?

I no longer recommend traveling to Standing Rock unless you have a skill that is desperately needed there (and have checked in with indigenous leaders on the ground). The conditions are too difficult, and the large numbers of people at camp have become a burden on the tribe.

Still, there is much work to be done.

In particular, Trump is likely to try his best to reverse the Army Corps’ position and give DAPL a green light.

So the top priority — and something you can do from home — is to keep up the pressure on investors to pull out.

Here’s my earlier post in YES! Magazine about what we can all do now:

Updated December 7, 2016:

“We call on allies across the world to take action EVERY DAY starting December 1,” said a statement from the Sacred Stone Camp, which also states:

How can we do something every day, as requested, to make a difference where we are, and especially, what is that makes sense now?

Show up …

… but not by making the trek out to Standing Rock. The front line has now moved. It may be in your neighborhood, where a branch of a big bank is located, and they may need to be reminded that you’d like them to divest from DAPL. Or it may be Flint; Wesley Clark Jr is recommending veterans head next to Flint, Michigan, where the water crisis continues. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau recently approved the tar sands Kinder-Morgan pipeline, which threatens of the waters of British Columbia and Washington state, and the Native peoples who depend on the fisheries. Resistance has been ongoing, but now will require more attention.

Break up with your bank

Keep the pressure on. Banks are feeling the heat from the protests and from their own customers. One bank, DNB of Norway, has responded to pressure by divesting from Energy Transfer, the parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline. DNB is reportedly reconsidering more than $400 million in credit. The ING Bank of the Netherlands, which prides itself on its sustainability and human rights stance, posted a statement on its website expressing concern about excessive police force at Standing Rock.

If your bank is one of the direct investors in DAPL or one of the investors in its parent companies, Energy Transfer and Sunoco Logistics, ask them to withdraw support. Tell them you plan to close your account if their support continues. Photograph yourself cutting up your credit card, or share your letter on your social media networks. I posted my break-up letter to Chase Bank on my blog and on Facebook and Twitter—and was surprised by how many responded that they planned to do the same.

If you have a retirement fund or mutual fund, find out if it is invested in Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, or Sunoco Logistics—or any of the 38 banks offering credit to the pipeline project. If so, let those investment companies know you object and tell them you would like the fund to divest or you’ll shift your account to a socially responsible investment fund.

Consider planning or participating in a nonviolent protest at a bank branch or headquarters. Sacred Stone Camp has posted a map to find bank branches near you and recommends actions beginning Dec. 1.

Banks are risk-averse, and this pipeline project has become quite risky because of public relations problems as well as the oil price bust and reduction of oil extraction in North Dakota. Banks and investors may be hoping for an excuse to back out. Your action could help tip the balance.

And reinvest your money in credit unions, community banks, or generative investments that build the new economy.

Call off the police

There were dozens of law enforcement agencies participating in the multi-state force that was shooting water cannons, pepper spraying, and shooting various “sub-lethal” weapons at unarmed water protectors. Many political leaders responded to public pressure by recalling their officers. If yours are still in North Dakota, contact elected officials, write to local papers and local blogs, and contact local media to object to law enforcement involvement at Standing Rock.

Contact government decision-makers

Thank President Obama for his decision.

President Barack Obama

Phone: 202-456-1111

You can also call Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, at 202-456-3182.


There are many needs, still for cash. Here are three that I can vouch for:

• The Standing Rock tribe, which is using the funds for their substantial legal expenses and for providing facilities for the camp:

• Oceti Sakowin Camp is the largest of the water protector camps, the closest to the front lines, and is now facing evacuation:

• The Water Protector Legal Collective (formerly the Red Owl Collective), which has been providing legal support to the many who have been arrested at Standing Rock:

You can also support some of the key indigenous organizations that are leading this movement nationwide and worldwide:

• The Indigenous Environmental Network:

• Honor the Earth:

You can raise more money for these and others by organizing support events and fundraisers in your community. Invite people who are curious about the issues as well as people who are already passionately engaged. Make it a celebratory or prayerful event in whatever way makes sense to your community.

Other options

Resist extraction where you live. Join work to stop the pipelines, coal trains, fracking, and export terminals in your city or state and include #NoDAPL and #WaterisLife messages to remind people of the link to Standing Rock.

Resist but also renew. Remember that as you resist the dystopian world of extraction, Donald Trump, violence, and racism, you can also use your activism to build up the world you want. Do your own “just transition,” switching to clean energy, conserving, protecting the water, rebuilding the soil—while including everyone in a way of life that is more soul-satisfying and joy-filled.

Resilience for the days ahead

When I talked to people at Standing Rock, I felt the trauma and pain but also the resolve. The young people spoke of being the Seventh Generation, the ones that were prayed for. And many endured enormous to ensure the next generations has the clean water they will need to survive.

That resolve can energize us and inspire as we take the lessons of Standing Rock home.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, founder of Sacred Stone Camp, said “We are in our home, we are strong, and we have prayer.” That is an ethos we can take with us, as we protect Mother Earth and stand together for the well being of future generations, wherever we live.


Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and editor at large of YES! Magazine, and author of The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through A New America.

Read more from Sarah’s coverage of Standing Rock, here:

img_5106  Army Corps Threatens to Evict Main Standing Rock Camp

dsc_0271 I Found the Spirit of Standing Rock in Communities Across the Nation

dsc_0492 Report from Standing Rock—Fierce Resilience as the Black Snake Approaches the River



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