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News on the Dakota Access Pipeline: Event Info

Event Info

Mni Wiconi, Water is Life!

Indigenous Resistance at Standing Rock Panel


April 7, 5-7pm

Parkway Ballroom in the Plemmons Student Union

Free and open to the community

Part of the Equity in Action Conference


On April 7 as part of the Equity in Action Conference at Appalachian State University, three members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will share stories and insight from their experience as water protectors in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The panelists will explore the significance of the #NoDAPL movement and discuss what comes next in the struggle for indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice.



On April 1st, 2016, citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota established a Spirit Camp on the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to protect water sources, land, and sacred sites from the $3.8 billion 1,172 mile oil pipeline that is set to run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. Over two hundred Native Nations from the United States, Canada, and Latin America and many non-Native allies joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the largest gathering of indigenous peoples in over a century. Though mainstream media says this movement is “over,” stories from people on the ground are a testimony to the opposite: this is a kind of action that is taking on new forms, in different places.



Panelists in this session will explore the significance of the #NoDAPL movement at Standing Rock and what it means for understanding equity in terms of indigenous survival and environmental justice. The unique emphasis of this panel will be on the stories of three members of Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Cherokee, NC), who served as water protectors at Standing Rock during multiple trips between North Carolina and North Dakota in 2016 and early 2017, until the closing of the NoDAPL resistance camps in February 2017. They will be joined on the panel by anthropologists Dr. Dana Powell and Dr. Rebecca Witter, who will offer introductory and closing remarks to help us situate the struggle in its historical, political, and global contexts. Undergraduate Anthropology major Ricki Draper will serve as moderator.


    The panel is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Department of Sustainable Development, Native American Student Association, Multicultural Student Development Center, Belk Library, and the College of Arts and Sciences.




Lisa Montelongo, member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and owner of Peavine Bath & Body products, all natural soaps, lotions, medicines handmade on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina.  Lifelong environmental and human rights activist within Native country who was brought into activism by her mother, Nora Montelongo, and is teaching her grandchildren the importance of fighting for good health and happiness for all people, as well.



Elvia Walkingstick, member of Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from Cherokee, North Carolina.  The daughter of Lisa Montelongo and raised in same fashion, to always be active in Indigenous/POC communities’ efforts to better their lives and learn and pass on their traditional ways and values.



Corlee Thomas-Hill is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville with a degree in history.  With a background in Qualla land history she has a passion for Tribal history education and fighting for social justice issues.


Dana E. Powell, PhD, is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Appalachian State University, where she directs the department's undergraduate program in Social Practice and Sustainability. Her interests are in political ecology, indigenous/settler colonial studies, and the politics of infrastructure and her long-term body of research has focused on the cultural politics of energy development and environmental activism in the Navajo (Diné) Nation.


Rebecca Witter, PhD,  joined the Sustainable Development Department at Appalachian State University in 2016. An environmental anthropologist by training and collaborative and interdisciplinary scholar by design, Witter's research and teaching explores the intersections between culture, power, environment and development. Witter's recent research assessed the uptake and exclusion of indigenous rights in international biodiversity conservation policies. Her current work focuses on poverty and human rights dimensions of the rhino poaching crisis in southern Africa. 


Ricki Draper, an undergraduate student in the Anthropology Department will serve as moderator.