Though Malia Obama may no longer be the First Daughter, she has continued political pursuits in her father’s footsteps. Earlier this week, Malia attended a protest at the Sundance Film Festival to protest Donald Trump’s plans to revive the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was among 100 to brave the snow and show their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is planned to span 1,200 miles and transport approximately 400,000 barrels of oil each day from North Dakota to Illinois. Its appeal to supporters of the project is that it provides a more efficient way of transporting oil and increases profit for oil companies. Much of the pipeline has already been built, except for in the area closest to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
The Sioux tribe, and supporters, argue that the project would contaminate drinking water and permanently damage sacred burial sites. More than 200 Native American tribes pledged their support, in what was the largest gathering of the indigenous in the US in possibly centuries. Tribe members aren’t the only ones with something to lose. Environmental activists say that the project would only add to fossil fuel production.
Several celebrities and political activists have expressed their support, like actor Mark Ruffalo, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders. Most notably, however, was the efforts of actress Shailene Woodley, who was arrested in October for criminal trespassing during a protest.
While there have been a few victories, like when the US Army Corps of Engineers suspended the project last year, more barriers stand in the way. Trump signed permits immediately after his inauguration to set the project back into motion.
During an interview, Woodley stated, “I wish Obama had stopped this in 2014, when it was originally proposed to the tribe and when the the Army Corps of Engineers originally ignored the tribes…It was amazing to see Malia. Also, to witness a human being and a woman coming into her own outside of her family and outside of the attachments that this country has on her, but someone who’s willing to participate in democracy because she chooses to…”
During Monday’s protest, the group expressed their disappointment with Sundance Festival for allowing Chase Bank to be a sponsor since they’re invested in the pipeline project. Towards the end of the night, Malia was one of the few in attendance at a private event with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault.
How to help? You can donate to Sacred Stone Camp’s GoFundMe page, in order to raise money for winter supplies. If you visit Change.org, you can sign one, or all 21 petitions to support the cause. Native or not, this protest involves all of us, the planet we thrive on, and whether or not it will be able to be passed on to future generations.