Today I checked into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota through Facebook, even though I’m in Buffalo, New York. A lot of people did this today, initially as an effort to confuse law enforcement who were reportedly using social media to target the on-the-ground Dakota Access Pipeline protestors. Even though the Sheriff’s Department issued a statement saying that it does not use check-ins to target protestors, I still feel that the action is significant because it provided a way for people to engage with the effort and get the mainstream media’s attention.
I didn’t know that this check-in was happening until one of my Facebook friends did it and I messaged him to ask if he was in North Dakota. He said no he was not, and he actually had no idea why he was checking in, but had heard from a friend that it was a good way to support some people who needed help.
The #NoDAPL fight has taken up a huge part of my mental space over the past 2 months, and it still shocks me that many people I know have no idea what is going on. I’ve posted some information about it on Facebook, but my posts get very few “likes” and are quickly shuffled to the bottom of my friends’ newsfeed. I get discouraged that “none of my friends care,” which may be true (everyone is so busy!), but I also suspect that the topic of my environmentally-related posts are not part of the Facebook algorithm and are banished from the newsfeed much faster than vacation or dog photos. Ugh.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Protest is important and I see it as one of the cracks in the industrialized age, bringing us to a new era where fossil fuels are left in the ground and the world transitions to full-on renewable energy. Yes this is about protecting the Missouri River, yes this is about honoring Native American treaties, and yes water is life, but also, this amazing and courageous protest is a symbol for the world to rally behind and reject building more fossil fuel infrastructure that will soon be a remnant of our dirty past.