When I first saw Apogee Journal’s call for work inspired by #NoDAPL during a years-long media blackout on the Dakota Access Pipeline, I felt hope. For months I had watched the daily suffering of other Natives and colonized peoples around me. Something about #NoDAPL spoke to indigenous people around the world, regardless of tribe or nationality. In pursuit of this folio, co-editors Victoria Cho, Joey De Jesus, and I were committed to creating a dialogue. A dialogue that is long overdue and too often ignored.
The work in this folio is about the struggles and survivals at Standing Rock and about broader indigenous survival and resistance. It’s about the broken promises of our oppressors, and about our promises to each other and to the planet.
This folio is a reclamation of space for Natives’ silent outrage, a silence to which we’ve grown accustomed as we’ve witnessed our greatest leaders and orators silenced, ignored, murdered, imprisoned, and erased from history.
The indigenous resistance sparked by #NoDAPL issued our refusal to continue abiding by the dominant imperial narrative. No longer willing to stand by and allow non-Natives to treat phrases like “this is Indian land” or “stolen land” as metaphorical. No longer willing to be told our sacred sites have no real value, dismissed because they do not fit in with the dominant culture’s idea of what is worth preserving – with what is holy. We rejected the belief that our problems begin and end with racist mascots and demeaning Halloween costumes. With #NoDAPL, we announced to the world that we will no longer be silenced.
In this folio are just some of the voices creating art and speaking out against the rampages of colonialism. Ginger Dunnill, Nicholas Galanin, Merritt Johnson, Cannupa Hanska Luger, and Dylan McLaughlin produced, as a collective, a video project with a drone days before an indigenous media drone was shot down by law enforcement over Standing Rock and a no-fly zone was imposed over the camps. Bani Amor’s exploration of how environmental racism, indigeneity, and mestizx identity weaves together personal narrative in their piece “Article 71” titled after the Ecuadorian constitution’s section on rights for nature.
Tafisha A. Edwards’ poem connects the discovery of a Black woman’s decomposed body in her own apartment after a three-year disappearance with the mass disappearance, murder, and abuse of thousands of indigenous women, which has been declared epidemic by the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people.
BBP Hosmillo reminds us of oppressions of colonized peoples across the world with a speaker’s nocturnal reflections that begin, “the body is a property” an hour after remembering the advice of an American soldier to “be polite / at all times.”
And Michael Wasson conjures an image familiar to nearly all Natives educated in the US, one I hope the children of the Standing Rock Sioux will never have to live with: “In the field, at the massacre site, I wept & wept while my classmates watched.”
We hope that this folio will be a healing space, an educational space, a space for catharsis but also for understanding. In the words of poet Natalie Diaz, “One of the reasons the police and state/government violence are being delivered on the nonviolent actions of water protectors is that most Americans still can’t imagine indigenous people outside of what history narrated. We aren’t real to many Americans. If you can’t imagine a people, you can’t imagine loving them … so you can’t have compassion or respect for them.” We wanted to make space for Natives, Native voices, and voices of colonial resistance where we could, as humble as these spaces may be. Just as this struggle is not over, neither is Apogee’s commitment to welcoming indigenous voices at our journal, now and in the future. Bearing witness to the pain and resistance of Natives at Standing Rock, as well as indigenous and colonized people around the world is both an act of resistance and a gift. A gift that I cannot express enough gratitude for.
Please consider donating to Oceti Sakowin Camp or Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council (tax-deductible), and sign the ACLU petition to demilitarize the police and investigate First Amendment infringement at Standing Rock. More information is available in Yes! Magazine‘s article on divesting from banks supporting DAPL.