Hundreds gathered in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol Oct. 31 in an effort to show support and solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in North Dakota.
Protesters are concerned that the proposed pipeline would destroy culturally and historically significant Native American land and potentially cause environmental harm should the pipeline ever malfunction.
The rally for Standing Rock at the capitol was organized in large part by OU senior Apollonia Piña, who is currently studying cross-cultural epistemologies in science and math.
Piña hopes the rally will send a message that a problem for Standing Rock is a problem for everyone.
“You may think this is strictly a bunch of Native Americans yelling and being upset and angry, but what we’re doing is we’re protecting this land, this water, for all of us,” Piña said. “If you think water rights and water quality doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong.”
Representatives from Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma and Black Lives Matter were in attendance, expressing their support for indigenous communities and the struggles they face.
Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma, spoke on behalf of the organization, promising further assistance in the weeks and months to come.
“Our words don’t need to be many, but our actions need to be great,” Dickerson said. “And we’re going to continue, this will just be one assembly to where we want to let them know that Oklahoma stands with Standing Rock.”
Casey Camp-Horinek, a long-time Native rights activist and member of the Ponca Nation, was arrested on Oct. 27 in Standing Rock but was present at the rally to speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the injustices she feels Native Americans are subjected to.
“We have a reason to stand together,” Camp-Horinek said. “When our red nations are under attack like they are up there in Standing Rock, we have a reason to stand together. When we, who are here as a result of forced removal from our own homelands … still have oil and gas infrastructure impacting our lives, every single day, we have a reason to stand together.”
Piña is hopeful that with the help of Oklahomans, both indigenous and otherwise, the protesters at Standing Rock will succeed and force the Dakota Access Pipeline to be constructed elsewhere.
“This is still our land. We have our memories, we have our stories, we know who we are as a people, and we haven’t forgotten that, even if other people have,” Piña said.