Why Standing Rock Matters: My March in Dallas

My struggle to look resolute while holding a squirmy
four year old in front of the ETP Headquarters

Last month I journeyed from Dallas, Texas to Cannonball, North Dakota to witness the site of the mass protestation over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The project will allow the pipeline to be built underneath the Missouri River, which is the sole source of water to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Upon my return from the protector camp my wife Farina informed me that a demonstration march would take place here in Dallas in front of the Energy Transfer Partner’s headquarters. I had heard that the company’s headquarters was located in Dallas, but I did not know where, so I googled its location. I then realized the headquarters of the oil company in question was only a mere 1.5 miles away from my home.

Farina and I are not averse to taking our children to protests. In 2010 we marched with our six-month-old chili bean around the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest the repeal of collective bargaining rights. In 2014, with construction board and permanent marker we fashioned signs and marched around the Arizona State Capitol to protest Governor Ducey’s $100 million budget slash towards public education. We felt that this was an appropriate occasion to make a family affair. As we say, the family that pickets together sticks it together.
This is a portion of our peaceful protest about thirty minutes before the march.
Our intrepid crew of two parents and three children under the age of six met at the protest site on 8111 Westchester Drive which crosses Weldon Howell Parkway in Dallas. Most of the protesters were not Native Americans. This was perhaps because the organizers of the event planned the march at the same time as the American Indian Heritage Day which took place at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. Most of the protesters were environmentalists. I took home a number of handbills and stickers encouraging me to vote for Jill Stein and other politicians with environmentalist agendas.
The protesters organized the event to peacefully and publicly make aware that they stand in solidarity with the protectors of the Missouri River and sacred indigenous sites in North Dakota. The march took the protesters from the headquarters of the Energy Transfer Partners down Weldon Howell Parkway, where we, with our three adorable children were besieged by flashing cameras. I felt like a celebrity walking across a concrete red carpet. We smiled and waved to the cameras, media, cops, passing vehicles, and onlooking Energy Transfer Employees that viewed the march behind the windows of the energy hub. The protesters continued to walk to the home of Kelcy Warren, the Chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. We, with our tired team of toddler travelers did not quite reach the end of the march, but the experience taught us you do not have to travel far from home to do something and take a stand for something right.
Energy Transfer Partners, which shares the building with “Chief” Oil and Gas. I wonder if any chiefs were consulted regarding the name of their company.
Those who know Farina may know that this year she is the David Weber Fellow at the Southern Methodist University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies. She has accepted a tenured-track teaching position in the History Department at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which is the capital of the Cherokee Nation. During our short time here in Dallas, she decided to take the opportunity to make a difference by organizing a forum at SMU titled Why Standing Rock Matters: Can Oil and Water Mix? In cooperation with the Clements Center and Maguire Energy Institute, the event will take place October 24, 2016 at the Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences on SMU campus and will feature Kelly Morgan, PhD, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux who is also a Tribal Archaeologist. Other presenters include:
ARCHAEOLOGY – Kelly Morgan, Sioux Nation Standing Rock Tribal Archaeologist
ENERGY – Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now coalition (MAIN)
HISTORY – Farina King (Diné Navajo), David J. Weber Fellow for the Study of Southwestern History at the
Clements Center for Southwest Studies, SMU
LAW – Eric Reed (Choctaw Nation), J.D., Dallas lawyer who specializes in American Indian Law, Tribal Law, and International Indigenous Rights
PUBLIC POLICY – Michael Lawson, President of MLL Consulting and author of Dammed Indians Revisited: the Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux (2010)
WATER – Andrew Quicksall, the J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering
The event has support from the Cox School of Business. This is very important to this forum, because the business school is home to the Maguire Energy Institute, which encourages the study of management, marketing, and policy issues related to the energy industry. Companies like Energy Transfer Partners recruit directly from the Cox School of Business because of its emphasis in energy. This forum will give academics a safe place to discuss the ethics and issues surrounding Native Americans, land, and resources. Representatives from the Indian community will be able to address the energy decision-makers of tomorrow.  The event takes place Monday, October 24, 2016 at the Crum Auditorium, Collins Center, 3150 Binkley Avenue on the campus of SMU at 6 pm. A reception will precede the event at 5:30. I encourage everyone in the Dallas area to register to come.


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