JEFF DUNN; LASR General Manager;

Between news of the Army Corps of Engineers approving the final stages of the Dakota Access Pipeline via President Trump and Seattle’s divestment from Wells Fargo for investing in the Pipeline, 85 students, staff and faculty sat on the floor in the Chris Knutzen center in the University Center on February 8 to “Learn from Standing Rock.”

Rachel Heaton, a leader and advocate for Standing Rock, first introduced leaders from the Puyallup tribe who led the crowd in prayer. After the prayer, President Krise spoke for a brief moment, acknowledging PLU’s place on the Puyallup tribe’s land,thanking them for their generosity and recognizing PLU’s role in the Tacoma area.

Heaton continued the program,“Our main goal is to spread awareness,” Heaton said. “We do a little bit of everything; we organize rallies, I got to work closely with Matt [Remle] on the divestment from Wells Fargo […] We’re really grassroots, and we jump in wherever we can.”

The night was filled with passionate voices, from Robert Satiacum’s booming bass to the soft-spoken Matt Remle, who assisted in advocating for Seattle’s divestment from Wells Fargo.

“I think one of the most important lessons to take away is Mni Wiconi,” Remle said, pointing to the words on his shirt. “That’s our Lakota word, it literally translates to ‘It Gives Me Life.’” The call “Water is Life!” became a rallying cry for the water protectors at Standing Rock.

Messages of unity and social responsibility permeated the night.

“The game is stacked against us, we need to change the rules,” said Benita Moore, who runs the Native Daily Network. It became clear as the night progressed that #NoDAPL wasn’t just a Standing Rock issue, but a universal one.

“It’s something we all face as a commonality. It’s a shared message globally that came out of Standing Rock and spread across the world,” Remle said.

Passions reached a boiling point when the event began to run long, and PLU students began leaving in small handfuls, prompting outbursts from some of the scheduled speakers.

Remle says that social responsibility starts with being conscious and aware of where your money’s going.

“I’m a credit union member, and when you’re a credit union member your money stays in your community,” Remle said. “It doesn’t get invested into a company like Energy Transfer to fund a project like the Dakota Access Pipeline. That’s a very simple thing to do, just take your money out of any of these big banks.”

“One of the biggest things we tell people is to educate yourself,” Heaton said. “Find out what’s really going on […] It’s realizing what we do as individuals; how do we shop? How do our everyday actions impact the world? Whether it’s buying bottled water or moving away from the fossil fuel industry. It’s a fight for all of us.”

By the end of the night, less than 40 students remained, but those who did made clear their commitment to learn from Standing Rock.

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