By Joel Jacobson
On Tuesday Nov. 8, wilderness educator and social activist Todd Wynward spoke at the Spiritual Life Week forum in Yoder Hall. Wynward talked about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests taking place in the Standing Rock Reservation of North Dakota. The protests, Wynward said, are the largest gathering of Native Americans in over 100 years. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil pipeline that runs through part of the reservation without consent of the Native Americans who inhabit it.
“This is what will happen not if, but when that oil pipeline breaks,” said Wynward discussing the dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to Wynward, when the pipeline breaks the oil will spread from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. The oil will spread across the watersheds of these two rivers and contaminate two-thirds of the United States’ water supply.
“It’s not about me, and it’s not about North Dakota, it’s about billions of people over time having their water becoming polluted permanently.They are putting their lives on the line for all of us right now,” said Wynward, referring to the people protesting the pipeline in Standing Rock.
According to Wynward, the pipeline was originally planned to be built north of Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. The first proposal was rejected due to its potential threat to Bismarck’s water supply. However, the same threat looms over the Standing Rock reservation if the pipeline is built through their land.
“What is something Bluffton students and faculty can do to help the protesters?” asked a member of the audience “I would say the biggest thing you can do is to pass the word on and limit our own addiction to fossil fuels,” said Wynward.
Another way to help the protesters is to buy things from the Sacred Stone Camp Amazon Wish List and send them to Sacred Stone Camp, P.O. Box 1011 Fort Yates, ND 58538. These items include candles, batteries, electronics and camping gear as protesters hope to stay for as long as the pipeline is being built.