Kalamazoo resident Monica Padula Washington says videos on social media that showed attacks on protestors in North Dakota inspired her to make the trip to Standing Rock. Padula Washington joined the protests in November.
The protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline and its planned construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation brought people from the country and even outside the United States. “Being an indigenous woman I definitely felt that responsibility to take up action when I heard the call for help.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit that would have allowed for construction on a key portion of the pipeline. Padula Washington says she was proud to stand with indigenous people and non-native supporters. She says the mood around the camp was not a festival, party, or celebration. Padula Washington describes it as sacred.
Padula Washington has been active in efforts to end the use of Native-American mascots by school sports teams. She says that issue is tied to the protest against the pipeline. Padula Washington says it’s another form of disrespect of indigenous people, and the struggle for equal rights.
The denial of the permit for construction on the pipeline could be temporary. Asked if she would go back and protest again, Padula Washington says “absolutely,” although it would be difficult. “Of course we all hope for the best, but given our history with the United States and with broken promises, we have to stay on edge, and we have to stay alert.”