Since our visit to Sacred Stone Camp, we have been highlighting news and pictures of the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance fight on our Facebook page and in this blog. People are obviously hungry for news about this movement, but we were surprised to see our “total reach,” a barometer of Facebook’s algorithmic dispersal of pages and posts, hit a weekly high of 1.5 million people. While some of this is due to the sharing of our original content, we are also sharing other groups’ posts and articles that we feel accurately communicates the complex story of indigenous resistance. Until recently, people were seeing few articles or reports on these issues in mainstream media, so it is even more important to disseminate news in such a grassroots and rhizomatic manner. This is for three significant reasons. The first and foremost is to simply share reliable information from the front lines, so that those who have little connection to the region are able to understand what is happening. It often feels that this “news” function is being abandoned by traditional news sources, and we hope to fill that gap if we are able. The second reason is to shame these news sources with information that percolates up through the dark matter of the internet, so that they begin to feel a need to do their jobs and report the stories of this historical indigenous movement, in spite of the patronage of Big Oil that underwrites much of their organizational structure. It is not a stretch to feel that the “Fourth Estate” is often derelict in its definitive role of “speaking truth to power” or at least adequately reporting the story of those who do. While social media is a shabby substitution for real investigative journalism, those on the ground with the grassroots movements do have a story to tell, and the cumulative effect is an important one. A third reason for taking our collective grassroots media reach seriously is movement building itself; that is, the important work of bringing people together around the urgent struggles for environmental sanity, social justice, and racial equity.
The invention of cheap, DIY lighted letter panels, and their extension into the growing Light Brigade Network, has allowed certain night spaces to become effective canvasses for messaging and the amplification of such issues. In the case of the resistance against pipeline colonialism, and specifically the indigenous struggle against DAPL, we are committed to continue to get the word out through all bandwidths possible.
Along with other activist groups, OLB was involved in coordinating a national call of support, hosted by Action Network. We are calling on President Obama to instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the permits for this dirty pipeline, not simply for a temporary halt so that protocol for public response, rushed at best, can be honored after the fact, but for the recognition that the Standing Rock Sioux have rights as a sovereign nation as decreed through legal historical treaty.
So continue to share information on social media, talk to friends, get involved in this historical struggle. It matters. When we care enough to put our bodies on the line, the front lines, a rally, a march, a meeting, a hearing, holding a lighted letter in a message on a bridge, we struggle against a culture of complacency, and push our elected officials to think that they might indeed represent us. We also understand that we are active agents in a history that unfolds, not merely spectators in someone else’s story. By gathering together, in this case, we hope to call attention to the dedicated warriors at The Sacred Stone camp and encourage others to take a stand in support of these brave Protectors.