Demonstrators at North Dakota’s Pipeline protest have spoken out about the amount of white people who have turned up to “colonise” the camp.
The concerns have been raised by protestors in a series of tweets and Facebook posts. According to them, people have turned up to the Standing Rock demonstration to soak up the “cultural experience”, and are treating the camp like it is “Burning Man” festival or “The Rainbow Gathering”.
“White people are colonising the camps. I mean that seriously. They are coming in, taking food, clothing... and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols,” said protestor Alicia Smith on Facebook. “I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking.”
She added that many protestors appeared to be living off the native Americans, and were taking full advantage of the donations that people had been sending in for the cause. This was a trend noticed by another Twitter user, who witnessed one protestor turn down tap water to spend donations on “fluoride free” water.
“They are literally subsisting entirely off of the generosity of the native people... who are fighting to protect their water just because they can,” Smith wrote. “Some literally will not even prepare food but will take food that is prepared, again, having not done anything else all day.”
The situation has reportedly got so bad that an open letter detailing the camp’s ground rules has started trending on Twitter. Responding to the new influx of support, it reminds demonstrators that the camp is “not a vacation.” It also says that protestors should avoid drugs and alcohol, engage with the elders, and refrain from playing “guitar or drums” around the fires.
“This is not Burning Man or a festival. Do not bring your party at the expense of these peoples fighting or life or death”, it reads. “I know this may sound harsh but it’s what we are experiencing here. We need this to be very clear so take time to understand the traditions and Native ways before arrival.”
The construction of the 1,170-mile long pipeline has sparked protests for its potential effects on the Missouri River. The water, which is relied on by the area’s Standing Rock sioux tribe, could end up being contaminated with crude oil; threatening the livelihood of many native Americans.
Over the last few weeks, the protests have gained publicity from the amount of famous people who have chosen to speak out against it. This includes Grimes, Shailene Woodley, Bernie Sanders, Katy Perry, and Jaden and Willow Smith.
Follow Dominique Sisley on Twitter here @dominiquesisley