The Native American Student Association (NASA) and Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) held a rally at the Polar Bear statue on Wednesday October 5 to generate support against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux community. The event was the culmination of several days of fundraising and education efforts. 

DAPL is a 1,172-mile pipeline that runs through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. One mile north of the 8,000-member Standing Rock Sioux community, it runs under the Missouri River, and could contaminate the reservation’s source of water. The $3.8 billion construction project has been nearly completed by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., according to the Washington Post.

Dylan Goodwill ’17, co-president of NASA, hopes the anti-DAPL events have helped to educate Bowdoin students on the issue. BCA and NASA members worked together to plan the rally, an accompanying photoshoot and several days of tabling in David Saul Smith Union. 

In a NASA-BCA joint meeting before the rally, group members crafted signs with the hashtag #NoDAPL, created information cards that were handed out at tabling and decorated a banner that reads “Bowdoin Stands with Standing Rock,” which supporters signed at the rally. The banner now hangs in Smith Union.  

At the rally, Goodwill gave a speech about Standing Rock’s “water protectors,” and how advocates encountered guard dogs and riot police at the spirit camp where they were based. NASA and BCA also handed out information cards and asked people to sign their banner in solidarity. Nearly 60 members of the Bowdoin community posed for a picture with the banner.

“It’s just really moving, and especially to be working with NASA and the Multicultural [Coalition] and just to see everybody turn out and to be here myself and to listen to Dylan speak,” said BCA co-leader Emily Ruby ’19.

Sarah Washington ’17, who attended the rally, was also touched by Goodwill’s words.  
“I think it was very powerful to have Dylan be a part of it,” she said. “[The pipeline] is something that a lot of Bowdoin students don’t know about.”

Arnav Patel ’18, a member of BCA, found the series of DAPL-focused events built upon the work of the Intersections: People, Planet, and Power (IP3) event last fall, which examined the intersectionality of social and environmental justice.

“I think that if you look at the DAPL issue, it’s a climate change issue [and] it’s an indigenous rights issue,” Patel said. “I think that you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. That’s why I think that [protesting] is not something that’s nice to do—it’s something that we have to do.”

Goodwill first talked about DAPL at Bowdoin during her contribution to the first year Orientation program “More Than Meets the Eye,” which aimed to address race and diversity on campus. At the time, she realized that many students did not know about DAPL and its related issues, but she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout at the rally. 

“My expectations were, unfortunately, kind of low going in, and then I saw the picture today and was like ‘oh my goodness!’ I was very surprised. I was on the verge of tears when I saw the amount of people,” she said.

The students also used GoFundMe to help raise $6,720 in support of the spirit camp’s Solar Trailer for Standing Rock, which provides power for the protestors. 

Goodwill urged people interested in supporting the Standing Rock Sioux community to follow the issue on Native American news outlets, such as Native News Online and Indian Country Today Media Network.

NASA hopes to continue on-campus education by holding a panel on climate change and bringing a speaker to talk about DAPL.

“This is not an issue just for Standing Rock, it’s an issue for everyone in the world,” she said. “Because everyone, indigenous or not, should be allowed access to clean drinking water.”