SPEAK to present Standing Rock documentary free screening


Trine University’s SPEAK organization invites both students and members of the community to attend a preview of the documentary “Wiinwaa Niizhassing (We the 7th)” on February 28 at 7 PM in Best Hall, room 221.

The film will follow a discussion with journalist and film producer Mariano Avila, as well as presentations from guest speakers Seth Sutton and Lin Bardwell.

In November, SPEAK hosted Sutton and Bardwell who spoke on issues with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bardwell is a graduate student in public administration at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She is also chair of the Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission and is a project coordinator and spokesperson for Gi-gikinomaage-min. Sutton is the owner of Big Thicket Media in Rockford, Michigan, an adjunct faculty member at Montcalm Community College in Sidney, Michigan and a member of the Anishinaabe.

The documentary is part of the “Mutually Inclusive” series produced by WGVU, a PBS affiliate run by Grand Valley State University. The film provides insight on the controversial issues involving Standing Rock, the Sioux Indians and the pipeline. “We the 7th” shares the story of a Native American community in western Michigan protesting in North Dakota against the access pipeline and their experience with other nations across the country.

SPEAK President Luke Martin says, “The Dakota Access Pipeline is a current issue that no matter which side you’re on, if you’re only listening to the news, you’re only getting a fraction of what’s going on. If you really take a look at a firsthand account and see the point of view of people actually being affected by what’s going on, it widens your perspective. It’s not just about one pipeline.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,170 mile and estimated $4 billion project that plans to transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline Project since early plans in 2014, despite recent publicity. In 2016, Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Dakota access pipeline with claims that it is a hazard to the environment and drinking water and disruptive to sacred burial grounds. Protests at Standing Rock have been continuous and have united several different interest groups in opposition with the construction of the access pipeline.

SPEAK advisor and HAC Professor Brandy DePriest says, “When people hear Dakota Access Pipeline, they automatically place political value on it and think it doesn’t pertain to them, or it’s irrelevant to their lives, but ultimately it’s much more than just one pipeline. It represents something much bigger.”

The documentary “We the 7th” showcases real-life experiences that occurred during the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and its screening is one that is not to be missed.


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Stephanie Delph is an English major.