There is no way around it: the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), an 1,172-mile underground oil pipeline set to stretch its way from North Dakota to Southern Illinois, is a contentious matter—but one Long Beach watering hole is taking a stance against the controversial project in the hopes of raising money to help activists get to and from its central protest site, Standing Rock.
The $3.78B project, announced in 2014, has garnered international attention—and not for
its industrial achievements but its impact on Native American lives and the environment. A number of Native Americans in Iowa and the Dakotas have opposed the pipeline, including the Meskwaki and several Sioux tribal nations, organizing to create ReZpect Our Water, the group currently protesting the pipeline’s creation at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
For local activist Patrick Conlon, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to move forward with the project and the call for heightened activism, now is the time to show that Long Beach doesn’t stand for bad environmentalism.
“We had initially planned for the fundraiser in November when the issue was still hot but we postponed it,” Conlon said. “My hopes is that we raise a considerable amount of money so activists can get enough gas money to transport supplies back and forth from the encampments.”
And not just gas money: Conlon hopes people will bring warm clothing, firewood, and supplies in-kind for those who have made the trip to Standing Rock—like Long Beacher Tahesha Knapp Christensen, who herself has been to Standing Rock in the name of one moto: water is life.
“Standing Rock is not just a place that you go to—it is a place that becomes part of you. It is a spiritual monument,” Christensen said. “This movement is an Indigenous-led movement grounded in the Seven Lakota values: compassion, wisdom, honesty, generosity, humility, respect, and prayer. When you go, there is a great diversity of people from around the world from all walks of life and—in blizzard conditions—you depend on each other for survival at camp in the most basic ways for food, warmth, light, and gear.”
For Christensen and the thousands who have took to Standing Rock, the encampment becomes intimate quickly: values about the earth being shared along with human dignity prove to be strong glue for human connection.
“There is no race, gender, or religious ‘isms’— it is just people living, loving, and protecting alongside each other in the context of wanting what is best for our Mother Earth and for the future of our humanity in the fight against corporate greed that cares nothing for humanity or our clean water,” Christensen said. “I want to find a way to bring this love and respect among the diversity of people in Long Beach in a similar manner organizing people in a grass roots way along traditional Native values in an Indigenous-led movement. I am honored to bring the sacred fire of Oceti Oyate home and share it with my community as we fight against our own pipelines and for sovereignty here at home.
“Mni Wiconi,” Christen said, a Native phrase for “Water is Life.”
Taking place at Muldoon’s in North Long Beach, the fundraiser is set to not just raise awareness over DAPL but environmental issues as a whole.
“We’re doing this because we saw Tribal Chiefs getting beaten, people losing their arms, people being attack by dogs—all for essentially protecting only thing in the world they have that is theirs: their home. Ultimately, we just want to make the world a better place.”
No DAPL: A Fundraiser for Standing Rock, will take place on Saturday, February 11, from 5PM to 2AM at Muldoon’s Saloon, located at 5646 Paramount Blvd. For more info, click here.