Last week, Divergent actress Shailene Woodley was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot, while protesting the construction of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline at a site in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Woodley, who pleaded not guilty in relation to the charges, has penned an editorial for Time explaining her side of the story, and urging people to join the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The pipeline is designed to transport fracked oil across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illonios, but protests led by the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe say it will disturb sacred sites and could affect the water supply.
Woodley was arrested alongside 26 others on Indigenous People’s Day, a day which is intended to celebrate the indigenous people of North America, and she says she joined them to try and bring attention to their cause. She wrote:
“I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans.
You know, those who were here before us.
Well, guess what, America? They’re still here.
And they are still fighting the good fight. A fight that serves each and every one of us.
They are still putting their lives on the line to protect the roots that feed our existence.
And, guess what else, dear America? They are still being ignored.”
Woodley wrote that, while America has a romantic view of its indigenous culture, the voices of actual Native Americans are usually not heard. She continued:
“Treaties are broken. Land is stolen. Dams are built. Reservations are flooded. People are displaced.
Yet we fail to notice. We fail to acknowledge. We fail to act.
So much so that it took me, a white non-native woman being arrested on Oct 10th in North Dakota, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to bring this cause to many people’s attention. And to the forefront of news publications around the world.”
She also highlighted the potential catastrophic damage that the pipeline could to to the Missouri River, saying:
“When the Dakota Access Pipeline breaks (and we know that too many pipelines do), millions of people will have crude-oil-contaminated water. I know it is easy to be apathetic or detached from the reality that fossil fuel contamination could actually affect you and the ones you love… But hear me loud and clear: If you are a human who requires water to survive, then this issue directly involves you. Don’t let the automatic sink faucets in your homes fool you—that water comes from somewhere, and the second its source is contaminated, so is your bathtub, and your sink, and your drinking liquid. We must not take for granted the severity of this truth.”
Woodley refuted the allegation that she was involved in a ‘riot’, saying:
“I am not scared. I am not afraid. I am grateful, and I am amazed to be standing by the sides of so many peaceful warriors. Standing Rock ‘protests’ are rooted in ceremony and in prayer. I’ve been there. And all these narratives about riots? Just watch my Facebook livestream and decide for yourself who looks more dangerous: police in riot gear with batons, or native grandmothers and children smudging sage and singing songs.”
She then urged people to continue in their fight against the pipeline, and acknowledged her own relatively small part in the bigger struggle, saying:
“Thank you, to all the tribes who have gathered. To all the nations standing as one. To all the people who know that if not we, then who? And if not now, then when?
Simply feeding off the hype of a celebrity’s arrest ain’t going to save the world. But, standing together will. Please stand in solidarity with the Sioux people of Standing Rock Reservation to ensure that we still have rivers to swim in, springs to drink from and lakes to float on.”
Woodley is scheduled to appear in court again on October 24, and she is looking at a $3000 fine or 60 days in jail if convicted.
Photo: JB Lacroix / Getty.