Local Supporters Of Dakota Pipeline Protesters Send Money, Supplies (And Themselves) To N.D.

Published: Friday, December 2, 2016 - 3:54pm
Updated: Friday, December 2, 2016 - 4:08pm
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(Photo courtesy of Elena Perez)
Elena Perez set up camp right by the Cannonball River when she joined the DAPL protests in September.

In Phoenix, some people are trying to help protesters hunkered down in the snow in Cannon Ball, N.D., from more than a thousand miles away. A Phoenix restaurant called The Coronado recently held a benefit for those at Standing Rock. 

“Usually we do like a little private Thanksgiving thing,” owner Liam Murtagh said. “Because of everything that’s going on up there, we decided to cancel that and we decided to do something a little more proactive. The following night, 100 percent of our food sales went to Standing Rock.”

Murtagh also collected supplies to send up. But shortly after the event, detractors took to Facebook to give the restaurant negative reviews, including many who live out of state and have never been to the restaurant. In response to that, supporters both in and out of Arizona countered with a flood of positive reviews. Murtagh said the whole thing was unexpected.

“There’s been so much positive and so many people caring about the issue that it’s a little surprising that we got that negative feedback, but it’s more overwhelming how many people actually care about this issue,” he said.

Other Phoenicians are trying to support the cause not with what they give to Standing Rock but with what they bring back. A couple members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix visited protesters’ camps this fall. In a meeting last night, they shared their trips through photos, music and stories hoping to paint a picture of what it’s like out there. 

Elena Perez is of the Picuris Pueblo and Cochiti Pueblo tribes. She visited in September, camping right along the Cannonball River, and witnessed firsthand the dynamics between the groups staying there.

“A lot of solidarity, a lot of pride, lots of cooperation and lots of organic community creation,” Perez said.

She said what really struck her was the way organizers made a point to put indigenous voices first when making plans.

“There was a person designated to mediate the time, so that the non-indigenous voices didn’t take up all the room,” she said. “Because if you don’t have that regulation, the tendency is that the indigenous or the minority will sit back and the louder more aggressive will just dominate the space.”

She said it's a way to keep the Standing Rock Sioux’s interests at the forefront as many non-indigenous supporters make the trek to North Dakota. 

“I have to go,” said Jayne Baker, a minister at Ascension Lutheran Church. She flies out Monday. 

“Not wishing to bring to Standing Rock any answers,” Baker clarified. “I don’t fully understand the complexity of it. But I know that I have to stand with brothers and sisters of the world.”

And she plans to talk to her congregation about the trip when she returns.

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