Going to North Dakota (STEM activism part II, posted before part I)

Hi everyone. This is, in terms of topic, part II of at least a two-post set on STEM activism. Part I will deal with why it’s important to academic and intellectual integrity as a STEM person (STEMist? STEMeer? STEMician?) to engage in issues that have an impact on the public. I don’t have the time or mental space to write that one now, but its outline is in a series of tweets I did last week, so if you really need, NEED that background to continue, we’ll wait.

I should say that this is a slapped-together kind of post: you can normally expect higher quality writing from me, and it will usually be more entertaining, too. This is kind of a special situation though.

Okay. On Sunday, I’m going to North Dakota to join the water protectors in putting my nonviolent, unarmed, praying body in between treaty-granted land (not to mention the water supply of millions) and a brutally militarized police force that has mobilized to facilitate the construction of an oil pipeline. So far, the Morton County police have maced, pepper sprayed, beaten and shot (with rubber bullets) unarmed people, even children, even those gathered in prayer on their own land. The National Guard is backing them up.

Let’s be really clear: this violence is happening in order to protect corporate profit at the minimum expense of public health and a federal treaty.

Environmental disasters both indirect (from the burning of oil carried by the pipeline and the technology used to extract it) and direct (from potential spills) have not been evaluated. The risk is known to be substantial, because the mayor of (mostly white) Bismarck protested when the pipeline was routed to cross the Missouri River upstream of that city–now that it is planned to cross only half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation water supply intake, the risks are thought to be nonexistent. To the point of militarized opposition.

A lot of people have contacted me asking if they can help support my effort to be there. This means a lot to me. I am so very lucky to have so very, very many allies and friends. I’m also privileged to have a lot more economic and social power than a lot of people at the camps, so while I’m deeply touched at the outpouring, this is what I’m asking for.


If, for whatever reason, you still prefer to support me directly and want to contribute money, these are the things I would be spending it on:

  1. When I arrive in Bismarck (via plane, flight purchased with donated miles), I am going to rent a car (but see “Things that require connections” below)
  2.  Then I am going to go to Sam’s Club and buy a lot of food and some winter clothes to donate to the camp
  3. I am also going to buy an inexpensive videocamera to document any interactions I have or see with ND police


  • Call the White House comment line (202-456-1111) and tell them you are not okay with (A) Treatybreaking (B) Police militarization (C) Use of police to protect private financial venture (D) POTUS statement (“We’re going to let it play out”) and also ask for POTUS to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the construction permit given to Dakota Access.
  • If you’re in STEM, sign our letter requesting that the construction cease until environmental impact studies have been done.
  • Sign the petition to the White House against the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Text NBC to tell them you’re against the DAPL 424-353-2016
  • Call National Guard Public Affairs 701-333-2006
  • Call the ND Governor’s Office 701-328-2200
  • Call Sherriff’s office in charge of police on site 701-667-3330
  • Call ND Attorney General. Object to illegal sale of farmland to a corporation 701-328-4726
  • Call the Dept of Justice comment line 202-353-1555
  • Call the Dept of Justice switchboard, if you want to be creative 202-514-2000
  • Tell all of these people that you are watching, that the police should stand down. You know that the DAPL crosses unceded indigenous territory and is a direct violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty and the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux.
  • Amplify Native voices on Twitter and through other media, both on this and other issues
  • Educate yourself (the #NoDAPL hashtag makes this very easy), and be vocal about the issue. You don’t have to speak every day or to every person, but think about raising and maintaining awareness like keeping a beach ball in the air: doesn’t take a ton of effort or work, just bop…bop…bop…
  • Stay engaged with Native issues even once this particular thing is over and/or I am back in Michigan


  • *If you know anyone in Bismarck who would be up for doing any of these, it would let me channel more funds toward camp donations, and if they’re white, likely help supplies get there at all:
  1. Picking me up from the airport & giving me a place to crash for the night when I arrive
  2. Giving me a ride first to Sam’s, then to the camps
  3. Giving me a ride back to the airport when I need to come back to MI
  • If you know anyone who would be willing to do a teach-in on Standing Rock, there is a syllabus available.