We’re offering some food for thought on Standing Rock this Thanksgiving week. Our guests are the brilliant scholar-activists Nick Estes and Kristen Simmons who help us to better understand what has happened with the water protectors over the past two months and especially during dramatic recent events at the camp. Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellow, and a co-founder of activist organization, The Red Nation. Kristen Simmons is a member of the Moapa Band of Southern Paiutes (NV). She is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago in the Department of Anthropology. Her work engages toxicity and settler colonialism in the American West. In the conversation (9:40), they explain to us the evolving carceral geography of the camp and how it is functioning as an experimental space for military suppression of native people and social movements. We talk about the recent intensification of violence with the arrival of private security forces, mainstream media blackouts and the importance of social media and drones for both sides of the conflict. Nick emphasizes the intersectionality of the struggle and Kristen reminds us that the Obama administration’s current position to “let it play out” is an ancient strategy of American empire. We find out what Nick and Kristen think will happen next and whether they believe a peaceful resolution is still possible. As they put it, “For our nations to live, this pipeline has to die.” You can find more information about Standing Rock at the following websites (where donations are also being accepted!): ocetisakowincamp.org, standingrock.org, sacredstone.org . And please check out the excellent Standing Rock syllabus page too at: https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/
And if we may add a plea from CENHS and the podcast to all our listeners: The situation at Standing Rock is incredibly urgent and a powerful reminder of how our colonial past is entangled with our energy future. Please talk about Standing Rock this Thanksgiving weekend with your families, please do something to support the water protectors, please work to counteract blackouts and misinformation, and please help to keep pressure on the political establishment to reach a peaceful outcome that respects native rights and sovereignty.