Shailene Woodley’s arrest and the Dakota Access Pipeline


Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Shailene Woodley was arrested on Oct. 10 while protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Pablo Medina, Editor

If there is a will, there is a way, and the human spirit will fight its way to truth and honor.

The Dakota Pipeline, an oil pipeline project created by Dakota Access LLC, has attracted much attention and criticism for its placement and desecration of federal respected Native American land between North and South Dakota. Since the beginning of the pipeline’s federal approval in Aug. 2016, the construction has continued with hundreds of thousands of protesters surrounding the sites and stopping workers from continuing their project.

One of the protestors is an American actress, Shailene Woodley, who joined the cause to fight for tribal land protection in early October until her arrest on Oct. 8 for criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot. Besides Woodley, other protesters have been arrested and attacked by National Guard teams with dogs, sound cannons and pepper spray.

In her Oct. 20 interview with TIME Magazine, Woodley noted the hypocrisy of the United States. Woodley said the general US population is ignorant of its lack of respect towards the Native American culture.

“We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture. Headdresses, feathers, arrows. Moccasins, sage, beadwork,” Woodley stated. “You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. Walking around the flea market this weekend, I can’t even tell you how many native references I saw being used in a way that feeds our western narrative.”

Woodley’s hit the nail right on the head, because that statement is a perfect description of how the Native American tribes have been ‘honored’ throughout their treatment in Anglo-American history.

I stand with Woodley’s argument that the pipeline is encroaching on reservation lands of the Great Sioux tribal community that were taken advantage of previous federal generations. What were once large prosperous groups of people doing their own thing before European invasion are now two percent of the entire U. S. population.

Woodley is not the only celebrity that sees through the motives of the American Oil companies at work. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and even President Obama know  the pipeline construction is a disrespectful spit-in-the-face to the indigenous Native Americans, and a danger to the public’s environment and agricultural resources.

In a Q&A at the #NoDAPL movement in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative town hall at Laos on Sept. 7, Obama answered a question about his issues with the Dakota Access pipeline.

“As many of you know, the way that Native Americans were treated was tragic. One of the priorities that I’ve had as President is restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes. And this issue of ancestral lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have worked very hard on.”

As admirable as his response was,  the construction of the pipeline has continued with no opposition from the federal government under his brow.

Though Obama’s judicial administration had interrupted the construction on a part of the pipeline in North Dakota in Sept. 6 and 9, a federal appeals court rejected the tribe’s appeal to halt the construction of the pipeline on Oct. 9.

Not enough is being done on his part to help change this construction to either favor both sides with careful planning, or to help protect the protestors from arrest and brutality from the National Guard protecting the construction of the pipeline.

The Dakota Access company may have the money to fund an expansive and potentially unstable pipeline that is not guaranteed to avoid explosions, but there are just as many citizens who don’t want a pipeline to destroy the very land they live on, Native American or otherwise. The pipeline will obviously result in greater profit and prosperity to oil giants and state governments, but at the cost of the safety and violation of human rights.