SPEAK sponsors Dakota Access Pipeline presentation

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What exactly is the Dakota Access Pipeline? Why are people protesting? Who are these people? You’re not alone if you have questions. Come Wednesday, November 30, however, SPEAK will help you find answers.

Campus and community members are invited to Best Hall of Science room 229 Wednesday night at 7 PM for a presentation on the issue. It follows the Stories from the Hearts of Native Americans event, which runs from 5-6:30 PM. There will be a brief intermission between events with refreshments.

Featured speakers on the Dakota Access Pipeline are Lin Bardwell and Seth Sutton.

Bardwell is a graduate student in public administration at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and chairs the Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission. She serves as project coordinator and spokesperson for the “Gi-gikinomaage-min (We are all teachers): Defend Our History, Unlock Your Spirit” initiative, a collaboration among several unites at GVSU to document the experience of Native American elders who lived in Grand Rapids during the federal relocation period in the mid-20th century.

Sutton, a member of the Anishinaabe, is owner of Big Thicket Media in Rockford, Michigan, and adjunct faculty member at Montcalm Community College in Sidney, Michigan.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a more than 1,170-mile pipeline planned to transport light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The project was approved in July by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit claiming the pipeline would be a threat to the environment and that it would destroy sites significant to the tribe. A protest against construction has been ongoing at the pipeline construction site in North Dakota.

The SPEAK faculty advisor is HAC professor Brandy DePriest. She says the entire community should be concerned about this issue because the pipeline poses a threat on several levels. “It threatens the natural resources (i.e. drinking water) and the culture of the Standing Rock Sioux community,” DePriest said. She also notes the pipeline does not create a long-term solution.

DePriest says the idea for the event was driven by SPEAK students. While they may not be able to physically join the protest, there are things they feel they can accomplish closer to home. “We can build a strong collective voice that may help us divert attention toward more realistic and sustainable options for the future.” Per DePriest, members of SPEAK wish to start fueling a grass roots effort to protect the natural world.

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