I know this is a little too late because apparently the pipeline in North Dakota is being rerouted, but I wrote this essay for my English class, and I thought that the topic was relevant to the themes of this blog.
Dear protestors in North Dakota and to the aboriginal people,
I am one of you, even if I can’t be with you. You see, I live in Ohio. I wish I could be there to help you; I wish I could support the Sioux in person, but I can’t because I am only in high school with no means of coming over to demonstrate. What the government of the Unites States is doing is wrong, and I want to tell the world why.
I read about what is going on in Dakota every day because my Northern Cheyenne, an aboriginal people located in Montana, friends keep me up to date. Come to my city every year, and are supporting you. In my heart, I am Cheyenne; genetically I am not. Therefore, I can understand your ways of life and your struggles better than anyone else from this part of the country who is not aboriginal. I am one of you. Even if I was not brought up like you, even if I never heard the stories passed down through the generations, I am part of the tribe.
I understand how sacred a burial ground can be. When I went to Israel in 7th grade, I visited the military cemetery in Jerusalem. The tomb stones are carved to look like trees with their branches cut back to the trunk. This is to symbolize how the soldiers died too young. You see, every 18-year-old in Israel serves the military after they graduate from high school. Girls serve for 2 years and boys serve for 3 years. Additionally, every single person in Israel knows someone who died in combat. Whether it is a relive, a friend, or a family member of a friend, everyone mourns together. In the cemetery, you could feel the presence of their souls. Looking around, the music of the leaves in the trees made you want to cry for each one of them. Now your burial ground is being taken away. It is being destroyed by the government and the oil industry. I feel your anger, your pain, and your rage. I am one of you even if I am not aboriginal.
I cry at the thought of how much has been taken away from your people by the government of the United States. They have destroyed your history, your language, your way of life, and now your dead. Miriam agreed with me when she tweeted, “Native Americans are a big part of history. This pipeline is ruining it. #stopdakotapipeline. ” This is the last straw!
I know what this feels like. Being Jewish, my people have been persecuted, mass murdered, and worse for millennia. People hate me and want me dead just because I am Jewish, just because of my beliefs. The documents of my heritage have been burned, so now I don’t know where my family comes from. I too have been kicked out of my homeland. That is why I live in the United States and not in Israel. This is similar to the way you have been put on small reservations that give you no hope of having a future. You do have a future! This future starts when you plant your feet in the ground and standing up for what you believe in.
This is not going to be easy. It wasn’t for my people, and it hasn’t been for yours. Violence seems to follow us around everywhere we go. ChangeAbout @ChangeAbout1, on Nov 4, retweeted Erin Schrode who wrote, “Things are getting #nasty #NoDAPL #stopdakotapipeline…” ChangeAbout added, “I was shot by militarized police WHILE interviewing a man on camera at #StandingRock…” These things will happen, but you must persevere. You must stay strong!
When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, they gave up hope. You can’t give up hope! When the Jewish people were to all be hanged in the gallows in Persia, there were mass demonstrations, and Queen Ester spoke up to save her people, and she did! It is up to you to save yourself. No one else will save you for you. When the Maccabees were faced with fighting the Roman Empire, they fought. Even if they were severely outnumbered (like a few dozen to a few hundred thousand) they still fought, and they ended up winning the battle and saving the Jewish homeland. Just like the Maccabees, you have the home field advantage, so speak your finds about what you believe in and stand up for your history.
Geography prevents me from protesting alongside you, but I am with you in spirit. You have right on your side and you have the ancients on your side too. There are many similarities between the aboriginal people and the Jewish people, and it would be wise to learn from history to create a better future. I am one of you, and I stand with you against the oil pipeline in North Dakota.