5 Questions With A Water Protector

This weekend I had the honor of interviewing one of Ashland’s own member’s of the Native American Community, who has been heavily involved in the activism with Standing Rock against the construction of The Dakota Access Pipeline. Zhawen Wahpepah recently took two trips to Standing Rock, one in October and one in November. This is what she had to say about the experience.

Wahpepah (center) at a #NODAPL rally here in Southern Oregon
  1. What is the most common misconception people have about what is happening at standing rock?

“The biggest misconception I believe is what the law enforcement there are saying about the water protectors. Even with video evidence of what police have done, they lie to the public about what truly is happening there. Unfortunately that is the information that is getting out to the public.”

2. What do you find most frustrating about what is happening at standing rock?

“It is hard to decide what is the most frustrating thing happening there because there is so many things happening there. The laws and constitutional rights the law enforcement there is breaking is unbelievable. The brutality towards unarmed and peaceful protectors is heart wrenching, and the mainstream media didn’t cover it. I guess the most frustrating is feeling like we are invisible, as Native people, and dispensable.”

3. What was your main goal in traveling there? What did you hope to accomplish?

“My main goal for going both times was getting supplies and donation to camp. The first time I went we brought about 10,000 dollars’ worth of donations along with several thousand in cash to give to certain camps that needed it the most. The second I went up there was to bring food and 5,000 dollars, and to support the protectors because that was around the time the brutality towards them started happening and I needed to be there.”

4.Do you think the situation will change for the better in the coming months?

“The situation right now is complicated. It has improved greatly with the recent support from Obama, but the pipeline said they will continue drilling and just pay the fines that would happen to them. They don’t plan on stopping for anyone and soon we will have Trump in office, and he fully supports the pipeline so we will see, all I can say is that I hope it does. At least now we have support from the government and the mainstream media reporting on what’s happening so it seems to be getting better.”

5.And since the construction to the pipeline was stopped for the time being would you say the battle is over, or do you believe it will resume when commander in cheeto takes office?

“The battle is far from over. It has just begun. I’m scared that people will forget because of the hault, and that’s when we will lose. This is just a step in the right direction.”