the music world asks obama to break silence on #noDAPL
With a deadline on the horizon, public figures are making direct pleas to the outgoing president.
In June 2014, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit a North Dakota reservation. "My administration is determined to partner with tribes, and it's not something that just happens once in a while. It takes place every day, on just about every issue that touches your lives. And that's what real nation-to-nation partnerships look like," he told Sioux members of Standing Rock. Yet the President has remained cautious to take a formal stance regarding native resistance to Energy Transfer Partners's plan to build the Dakota Access Pipeline through the reservation — a decision that would contaminate the tribal water supply. He last spoke on the situation in early November, suggesting that rerouting the pipeline has been considered, and that "there is an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and [...] for authorities to show restraint." But as we veer dangerously close to December 5, the date by which authorities say protesters must leave the camps, and with President-elect Trump's vow to expedite pipeline construction on the near horizon, the silence of the current administration rings louder than ever. Now, a legion of artists are focusing the conversation around the #noDAPL movement by asking President Obama for direct action.
Today, Kate Nash penned an open letter to the President, via Noisey, expressing her dissatisfaction with his handling of the #noDAPL movement — a sentiment that has been echoed by dozens of musicians, including Sia, Julian Casablancas, Sky Ferreira, Devendra Banhart, Annie Lennox, Pussy Riot, and Shamir. "We are deeply disturbed by the police actions that have been taking place, where nonviolent protests have been and continue to be met with extremely aggressive tactics including; being shot with water canons in below freezing temperatures, chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and attack dogs," Nash wrote, before urging Obama to stand behind the coalition statement of the Sacred Stone Camp. The number of artists who have co-signed Nash's letter, which currently lists names such as Shirley Manson, Lykke Li, Ed Droste, Alice Glass, and Zachary Cole Smith, is now well over 150 and growing. Vic Mensa, who is currently protesting in solidarity at Standing Rock, also signed on.
Nash's letter follows a series of other recent high-profile addresses to President Obama. Actress Shailene Woodley, who has been a vocal and active opponent of the pipeline during the past months, called on the president to stand behind his previous claims of alliance with the Standing Rock Sioux, in conversation with director Josh Fox for Rolling Stone. "They've negotiated for 500 years, and they've compromised for 500 years," said Woodley, "They didn't have a choice not to, because of colonization." Neil Young and Daryl Hannah have expressed similar sentiments. "We are calling upon you, President Barack Obama, to step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors," they wrote on Facebook, "the great issues of our time are now brightly illuminated… from sea to shining sea, from Standing Rock to Wall Street." Other music world figures, from Katy Perry to The Paranoyds frontwoman Staz Lindes, have also encouraged their followers to sign petitionary letters to the President.
"I know that throughout history, the United States often didn't give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved," Obama said in 2014, "So I promised when I ran to be a President who'd change that — a President who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty." As the pipeline threatens to federally violate the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which guarantees "undisturbed use and occupation" of Standing Rock, it remains to be seen if the current President will uphold that promise of sacred trust.
Text Salvatore Maicki
Picture via Instagram