Thousands of families gathered on Thanksgiving to celebrate peace and the process of coming together, my family will not.
by// Orlenna Firkins
Instead of spending all day cooking a turkey, giving thanks, and playing football in the backyard, my family will sit together in our living room and talk about the Dakota access pipeline being constructed. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil pipeline being built on Native American land in North Dakota. Protesters of all ethnicities, religions, and age are crowded around the unfinished construction of the pipeline.
Although most of the protesters are peaceful, law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles cleared the protest camp, using sound cannons, pepper spray, taser guns, and shotguns said to contain beanbags against the protesters. More than 100 people were arrested, including elders praying peacefully in the roadway, according to the Morton County Sheriff Department.
My father is almost full-blooded Cherokee Native American; when he heard about the terrible way his people are being treated he almost couldn’t believe it.
“I thought it was unfair because Native Americans have already been pushed out of most of their land and now the little bit they still have is being taken away from them,” Native American descendent Bryan Firkins said.
“I 100% agree with him,” Firkins’ wife, Kaye Barker, said. “Not just because he’s my husband and his whole family is full-blooded Cherokee, but because as people we’re supposed to come together and help one another and they need as much help as they can get at the moment.”
Not everyone knows what the Dakota Access Pipeline is; most people only know partial information about the construction of the pipeline.
“All I know is that some company is trying to build an oil pipeline in some kind of Native American site,” sophomore Jeremy Rosenberger said.
It’s much worse than just a pipeline being built. Protesters say they have faced rubber bullets, tear gas, mace, compression grenades and beanbag rounds while expressing concerns over the environmental impact and trying to protect burial grounds and other sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on whose land the pipeline construction is taking place.
Although my family is unable to partake in the protest in Dakota directly, we’re doing the little things we can from home to raise awareness. My mother, father, and I all post on social media to educate our friends about the pipeline unfairly being put in. We’re doing everything we can to put a stop to the construction of the pipeline.