The #NoDAPL and Water Is Life Movements and Historians

AHA Session 16
Thursday, January 4, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Palladian Ballroom (Omni Shoreham, West Lobby)
Donald L. Fixico, Arizona State University
Donald L. Fixico, Arizona State University

Session Abstract

The standoff between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allies, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Energy Transfer Partners over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has marked a significant historic moment with Indigenous peoples at the forefront and center. Many individuals, peoples, and organizations have risen in solidarity with Standing Rock to protect the Missouri River and other water sources. As environmental and water crises plague communities globally—including recent disasters in the Four Corners Region of the San Juan River and Flint, Michigan—issues of resource development, health, governance, environmental degradation, and racial and economic disparities come to the fore. These tensions underscore various matters and questions of human life, including but not limited to land and water rights, health, environment, spirituality, and energy and resource management and development, which are crucial for all learners and people (within and outside of academic institutions) to address and understand. How have scholars historicized and engaged with NoDAPL and such Water is Life Movements led by Indigenous peoples?

This panel involves scholars who have personally been affected by the Water is Life Movements and related historical developments. They have contributed to conversations and studies about the historical context and histories of these issues and controversies as well as participated in related forums and/or workshops on college campuses. In Invasion of Indian Country in the Twentieth Century (1998), the chair and commentator of this panel, Donald Fixico (Shawnee, Sac & Fox, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole), foreshadowed what is happening among many Native American communities and others throughout the world: “In a final stand, the leaders and their people will have to protect their lands from the ravishing excavations of energy companies” (xix). Fixico and Michael Lawson, a historian on this panel who has recently participated in litigation concerning the tribal nations of the Missouri River, have paved the way and continue the struggle to support Indigenous peoples in their stand for water and earth. Farina King (Diné) and Amber Annis (Cheyenne River Sioux) are emerging Native American scholars who engage with and add to these efforts, including historicizing, as they both are motivated by their communities and connections to Indigenous Water is Life movements.

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