A few people missed the memo that it's unacceptable to appropriate cultures as well as make a mockery of activists who are risking their lives to propel change.
Those who follow news shared by alternative media outlets have likely been educated on the ordeal taking place in North Dakota between activists with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and riot police. To prevent a four-state pipeline – known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) – from being constructed and, in effect, uprooting burial ground, infringing upon land guaranteed to the Native Americans in 1881, and potentially poisoning the Missouri river, activists have been camping along the border of the reservation.
In the past few weeks especially, mass arrests have been taking place, along with individuals being maced, shot with rubber bullets, and tear gassed. Mainstream media has largely ignored this issue, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands are speaking out against the injustice and demanding peaceful resolution.
Despite the order to halt construction by three federal agencies, DAPL development has encroached approximately 17 miles into the 20-mile voluntary exclusion zone. It’s the lack of action incited by officials in Washington, D.C. that has resulted in activists burning tires, cars, wood, and hay to create roadblocks to halt the construction. As an individual who has witnessed the rioting first-hand, it can be said that aggression is being witnessed on both sides, despite orders by the tribal leaders to maintain peaceful relations and avoid violence.
The ordeal is far from over, but it doesn’t help that ignorant citizens are appropriating Native American culture and making a mockery of #NoDAPL activists. As Indian Country reports, some individuals have callously posted pictures of themselves dressing up as ‘ignorant’ Native Americans protesting the DAPL. A couple of photos have so far hit social media and it’s safe to say that that the majority of reactions have not been positive.
In one photo, two girls wearing feathers and shirts with signs reading #NoDAPL are in a liquor store holding beers. It’s written: “I Godda Job, I’m a Water Pertecter.” The caption on the screen reads, “Let’s start a riot!”. The woman on the left has a chain wrapped around her right ankle.
In another photo, a couple poses in makeshift costumes holding a bottle of wine, as well as signs reading #NoDAPL and #WaterIsLife.
What’s taking place can be likened to the numerous instances in which ignorant students have uploaded pictures of themselves with ‘black face’ (black face masks) and captions reading #BlackLivesMatter. Neither form of appropriation or stereotyping is acceptable, and it’s up to the general populace to educate others on the insensitivity of such actions – especially when it concerns people putting their lives on the line for a cause they feel passionate about.
Kara Zechman speaks for most with her comment on Facebook:
“Quite honestly, this infuriates me. The Sioux are out there suffering, having sacred burial grounds torn up, having an oil pipeline put straight through their sole water supply by force and what? Now they are a joke? It’s funny to take and take from the red man until their broken spirit and shattered pride is all they will have in a country that was once their own? Damn it society we are not a costume, we are not laughing, and we can only stay silent for so long. Native and proud.”
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