Two UT graduate students are collecting winter clothing donations to deliver to Standing Rock Sioux protesters in North Dakota this Thanksgiving break.
Education graduate student Andrew Gonzales and School of Information graduate student Jain Orr decided to begin the clothing campaign after hearing about the protesters’ need for more winter gear.
“I’ve been watching what’s happened in Standing Rock since April, and I was particularly troubled as the violence has escalated,” Gonzales said. “I think that it’s more important now than ever to express solidarity.”
In partnership with several campus programs, the students set up five different donation boxes around campus where students can drop off items.
The drop-off areas include the Native American and Indigenous Studies office, the Department of American Studies, the Women and Gender Studies Center, the School of Information and the Multicultural Engagement Center.
Orr said she wants to collect as much clothing as possible to support the Sioux people, as the Dakota Access Pipeline could potentially spoil the tribe’s only water resource.
“Although the pipeline is not directly within the tribal territory, it will be going under a waterway that is 100 percent where the Standing Rock Sioux gets their water,” Orr said. “If there was a leak, the end result would just be catastrophic for this group of people.”
Orr said carbon levels in the water have already reached 400 parts per million, and could increase with the building of the pipeline.
The clothing drive is part of an earlier campaign that began in September to send protesters needed supplies.
“We didn’t expect the protest to keep going, but so many people, especially native people from all around the country and even the world, are supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe,” Orr said.
Luís Cárcamo-Huechante, director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies program and a member of the indigenous community, said it is important for students to engage in the issues facing Native Americans.
“Any protest against projects that threaten our natural environments and indigenous territories are of the utmost importance for us,” Cárcamo-Huechante said. “Native peoples have that kind of vision to represent themselves as protectors of the land, because of the deep sense we have for our natural environments.”
Cárcamo-Huechante said the drive will continue until Nov. 18, and a teach-in will be held the day before to educate students interested in the pipeline controversy.