The protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline have been going on for more than six months, prompting fundraisers and online activism. But the fight against Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the DAPL has existed since it was first proposed two years ago. The pipeline threatens the Standing Rock Sioux’s culture and livelihood—not to mention that the tribe believes it violates Fort Laramie treaties—so the water protectors have been quite vocal in their opposition. These peaceful protests have been met with an inordinate display of force by police, with some witnesses saying concussion grenades and water cannons have been used in addition to mace and rubber bullets.
Word of the standoff has reached President Barack Obama, who told protestors it’s “important that we re-double our efforts to make sure that every federal agency truly consults and listens, and works with you, sovereign-to-sovereign.” Which is nice and all, except that not much has happened on that front. So naturally, it’s fallen on celebrities to jumpstart the engines of justice. British singer and transplant Kate Nash has kicked things off with an open letter to the President, the Army Corps Of Engineers, and the Department Of Justice. Nash told Noisey she just couldn’t sit around doing nothing, and though she knows an open letter won’t change things overnight, it was important that Americans be made aware they’re being watched and will (maybe eventually) be held accountable.
Nash’s letter has since garnered an additional 121 signatures from other artists, including Annie Lennox, Billie Joe Armstrong, Ben Gibbard, and Vic Mensa, the latter of whom has traveled to Standing Rock to support the Sioux. You can read the letter in its entirety at Noisey, but here’s an excerpt.
We encourage you to remember that this planet provides for us, not the other way around. Water is life and this cannot be underestimated or taken for granted in 2016.
We are aware of the long and painful history between the U.S. and its indigenous people. Know that the world’s eyes and the eyes of the music community are on you now as you continue to disregard the treaties you have with the Native American people and act barbarically towards them.