Pipeline Demonstrators to White People: Stop Treating Protests as ‘Burning Man’

A banner protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline is displayed at an encampment near North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux reservation
A banner protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline is displayed at an encampment near North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux reservation / AP
• November 29, 2016 1:32 pm


People protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline are growing frustrated over the influx of outside demonstrators who are treating the Standing Rock camps as a Burning Man festival flesh with photo-ops and unsolicited live music performances.

Demonstrators have taken to social media demanding that visitors, most of whom are white, stop using the protests as part of a "spiritual journey" and have accused outsiders of "colonizing" the camps.

Protestor Alicia Smith wrote earlier this month in a now-deleted Facebook post about her "disturbing" experience watching white people "coming in, taking food, clothing and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols."

"These people are treating it like it is Burning Man or The Rainbow Gathering and I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to those festivals," Smith wrote, the Independent reported.

Smith continued that many protestors seemed to be mooching off of the natives’ resources while taking advantage of donations sent in for the cause. One protestor said he witnessed "some white people" asking to use donation money on "fluoride-free" water instead of drinking tap.

Another demonstrator reminded visitors the camp is not a vacation site and told people to stop breaking "out into song."

"Nobody wants to hear your songs with your guitar or drum around the fire," protestor Jon Petronzio wrote on Facebook.

One woman raised $1,425 in less than three weeks on the fundraising site GoFundMe for a "Thanksgiving trip to Standing Rock" where should would document the trip through photographs and videos Facebook so that others could "be a part of this amazing journey." She wrote that she came to the idea after feeling "the pull" to help the "Indians."

"I can't imagine a more spiritually fulfilling way to spend Thanksgiving week than driving a caravan of supplies out to these brave people," she wrote.

A native woman who had also protested at Standing Rock posted to Twitter that the funds would be better spent on donations to the cause and complained of visitors using their time at the site "to take pictures of ‘Indians.'"

The protests, first organized by native tribes fighting to protect sacred lands, have also pulled support from environmental activists who argue the oil pipeline could contaminate drinking water. The construction of the pipeline in parts of North Dakota was put on hold in September through a federal temporary restraining order after violent clashes between protestors and police erupted near the construction site.

Hundreds of demonstrators have remained at the Standing Rock camp since August despite an emergency order from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to evacuate the site in the face of harsh winter weather. Dalrymple, a Republican, said the state will not forcibly remove demonstrators, but warned that "emergency services probably will not be available under current winter conditions."

Published under: Native American, Oil