Topics: Environment, Indigenous, US Elections 2016

Many Americans still ignorant to events in North Dakota

By Taiha Molyneux

Millions of people across the world have stood in support of the indigenous people of America and their fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

However, it would seem that millions of people in America itself have no real understanding of events there.

Te Kāea reporter Taiha Molyneux is in Washington DC and spoke with a member of Carry The Kettle First Nation to gauge his perspective,

While most of the world’s eyes are focused on North Dakota, the focus of mainstream media in America and key politicians of influence is elsewhere.

Erik Stegman the Executive Director of the Centre for Native American Youth  and member of Carry the Kettle First Nation (Assiniboine) says, “I think some of the lack of attention or understanding here sadly doesn’t always surprise me and that may be my cynical side but what was surprising me was when I would travel to other parts of the country and would see practically no attention on this issue.”

As a result, Native Americans have taken to using digital tools to ensure they get their message out to the world.

Stegman says, “I think one of the things that really you know we are all this week sort of analysing what this phenomenon was when 1.5 million people checked in on Facebook to the Standing Rock Reservation and you know some people are wondering was that helpful? was it useful? I think what it really says is how did 1.5 million people find out about what’s going on because in this country you wouldn’t know.”

After increasing calls from Indigenous nations for a statement, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama responded, but at this stage it's just words and neither have stood up to condemn outright the behaviour of authorities.

Stegman says, “We really appreciate that the rest of the world is going to their embassies standing up,, having entire states, provincials and in some cases national governments standing with Standing Rock.”

Te Kāea met up with one supporter making his way to Standing Rock.

JR Moorhead a passionate supporter of indigenous nations has travelled from Hawaii he says he's going, “because the whole world is being distracted right now by this election, or at least America is by Trump and Hillary and no one’s even mentioning what’s going on in the Dakotas, It’s just heartfelt so we are going up there and we are meeting some friends and we are going to caravan a bunch of supplies.”

In 1990 the President at the time George H W Bush declared the month of November as National Native American Heritage Month, to honour the history and culture of the indigenous population of this country but it seems the people with the power to show them honour have forgotten that.