You may have seen some of your friends on Facebook using the “check-in” feature to say they’re visiting the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Along with this announcement, your friends may also post a disclaimer stating they are not actually in North Dakota — no matter what the check-in says.
Falsely checking in is an attempt by No Dakota Pipeline (NoDAPL) supporters to disrupt police efforts to use Facebook to identify and track activists. These efforts have not been verified by protesters or police and falsely checking in may not be doing anything to help Standing Rock at all.
Regardless of the true outcome, Facebook check-ins still matter even if they’re not doing anything. Predominantly, they’re highlighting a problem that has been ignored by media outlets too obsessed with the presidential race to dedicate any time to environmental protests. By sharing your location with the intent of potentially frustrating police efforts, you’re taking a moral stand against police brutality after weeks of violence against Native Americans. Since beginning their protests to the pipeline, supporters have faced pepper spray, attack dogs and rubber bullets. Not commenting is remaining silent. You cannot remain silent as long as you stand with Standing Rock Sioux people.
Supporting Standing Rock on a public forum like Facebook, even if it’s only visible to your friends and family, gives a voice to Native American tribes. These people have been continuously ignored and disrespected by the Dakota Access Pipeline and its private security firm.
The original proposed path of the pipeline crossed the Missouri River upstream from Bismarck, N.D. After receiving concerns of water supply contamination that would affect a 90-percent-white city, the pipeline was rerouted directly upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Now the Sioux and hundreds of other tribes across the nation are protesting the pipeline to protect their water supply endangered by the new path — not to mention the violation of treaty rights and desecration of sacred spaces. For voicing the same objection, Bismarck was heard and Standing Rock has been living at the gunpoint of a military force for some time.
The Dakota Access LLC hasn’t listened to the tribes and neither has the U.S. government. People at all levels of our democratic system stay silent, remaining ignorant and complacent to the disrespect and violence in North Dakota. Facebook check-ins provide us with a place to show some solidarity and stand with those at Standing Rock, which will hopefully prompt a response from the mainstream media.
It’s our responsibility to listen to sovereign nations like the Sioux and support them. If you don’t feel comfortable checking in on Facebook, consider donating to the cause. In Maine, we are physically removed from the area but not too far away from the problem. Do your research. Make a stand. #NoDAPL