Awake film featured on campus brings native voices to light

“We face the fear with love;” the fear they faced was the military action of the Police State brought down upon them on their own land. This action was spearheaded by the local and state law enforcement of North Dakota, aided by police forces from across the country and the mercenaries of the oil companies.

Across our country, the militaristic tactics used against native peoples and they’re supporters were watched daily by many via the Internet. These independent news postings were coming from different organizations, such as Unicorn Riot out of the Twin Cities. Many of those scenes you will recognize in the documentary,

“Awake,” which was featured on campus Oct. 5. The tactics being used against Native Americans were considerably harsher than those being used against Black Lives Matter in our cities where the corporate news cameras were ever present.

The confrontation that was featured in the film was the one that happened at Standing Rock, North Dakota in 2016. It was facilitated by the successful “white privilege” refusal of the citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota to allow this pipeline to cross the Missouri River upstream of their water intakes. This forced the DAPL pipeline south onto sacred Native American tribal lands, lands guaranteed to them by treaty. The route chosen and the methodology to achieve it clearly showed inadequate consideration for negotiated treaties rights, ancient burial grounds, and of the legalities that would have stopped construction of highways and any other building projects along this same route. For the Oglala, Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota peoples, this is one more in a long line of broken treaties and promises.

“We wanted to bring the ‘Awake’ film [here] to promote awareness and education regarding what happened at the No DAPL protest and where it’s at now,” Megan Rose Heutmaker, MNSU’s Indian Affairs director, said. “This issue isn’t over and there are many other communities fighting for clean and safe water all over the world. We wanted to bring their issues to light as well.”

This film rightfully invoked feelings of anger, rage, and even shame in any compassionate human being watching it. It will show you the arbitrary, capricious, and brutal ways law enforcement attempted to deal with protesters on their own land. This includes the callous disregard for traditional burial grounds on Turtle Island.

Aldo Seoane was a speaker at this event, who led a short discussion and panel on the events in at Standing Rock and the ways this has impacted the native communities.

Seoane feels the documentary is being well received at these public showings and that the efforts of Netflix and Fox are further increasing exposure. When asked if he felt the time is right for change, his answer held both the negative and the positive. While the present indifference from the federal government is disheartening, the movement for social justice across the country is very encouraging.

When asked if the message is getting through, he answered that the overall answer was yes, and that people are receptive to the message of ending injustice in America and are more open to seeing all people as human beings. He also spoke forcefully against the man-camps that spring up along the pipeline, leading to the exploitation of native women and girls for the pleasures of the pipeline workers.

This is a theme recently taken to Washington D.C. in protest as well. He spoke eloquently of the needs and futures of their children as an overshadowing mission he serves, the need for economic justice for his people, and always of the need to protect their source of water for their people.
Heutmaker called the event a great success.

“We had just over 140 people at this event and there was a good discussion after as well so I think many people that were in attendance walked away with some more knowledge about some of the current issues American Indian people are fighting for,” she said. “This connected really well with our other film showing, ‘The Canary Effect,’ to provide more context and education on the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day on Oct. 9.”

The documentary, “Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock,” is directed by the award-winning combination of Myron Dewey, James Spione and Josh Fox. The writers are Josh Fox and Floris Ptesan Hunka, with the star-role filled by Autumn DePoe-Hughes.

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