Following President Trump’s executive order to advance the Keystone XL Dakota Access Pipeline members of the Ashland community came together last Sunday evening at an event they called Stand with Standing Rock: Decolonizing the Commons.
According to one of the event facilitators, Carely Corrado, “the point of this gathering is to really bring people together to have a conversation about what’s going on at Standing Rock and how they can best support the movement at Standing Rock.”
Having just returned from North Dakota where she and Chris Hardy brought supplies and funding, she said that this is “an opportunity for people to engage in discussions and be able to be heard as well as to cross pollinate with other people and ideas.”
“Chris and I were drawn to go there because it’s such a massive moment in history with this tribe standing up to fight for their rights,” she said.
The night opened with a greeting from Dan Wahpepah who began by greeting the crowd. “Hello relatives. Hello water protectors,” he said before moving into his opening prayer. After this greeting, those gathered in the circle were invited to share what they knew to update those present about the pipeline and the protestors.
Jamie Bernhagen, a co-director of Red Earth Descendants said that the mission of their organization is “all about reuniting people back to their indigenous ways and we have worked for years against things like this [the pipeline].”
On a national scale Bernhagen discussed the fact that the protests and the outrage currently happening “is a much bigger thing than just the pipeline. The pipeline is huge. It’s pretty much the catalyst for this whole uprising and it is definitely a symbol in a way. Standing rock stands as a symbol for what has been wrong for so long.”
The focus of the night, other than to update the community about the movement happening at Standing Rock, was also to teach people how to be good allies to the Native people and to discuss decolonization. “Decolonization is a conversation about how we can all best show up as allies to support people who have been oppressed, who are standing up and leading a movement,” said Caorrato.