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The Daily Tar Heel

Drums pounded in celebration of Standing Rock protest

This past Sunday's drum circle in Hillsborough, NC.
This past Sunday's drum circle in Hillsborough, NC.

Fifteen minutes later, an announcement was made to the group that Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, had decided not to approve a permit for the planned location of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would have been built less than half a mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation border.

Attendees at the Boogie Holler venue responded with excited drumming, yelps and celebratory dancing.

Kim Mikiel’s husband has been at Standing Rock since Monday, and she said she felt overjoyed by the news.

“I’m beside myself,” she said. “It’s more powerful than I can even put words to. We’ve been praying. We’ve been praying.”

The Sacred Drum for Standing Rock began at 4 p.m. and participants were invited to explain their personal thoughts and experiences in conversation. They wrote their prayers on small strips of paper for burning in the communal fire later.

Anays Ponce, a Durham resident, came to the drum circle to be around other supporters of the protestors at Standing Rock.

“I wish that I could be there with the water protectors, but I can’t,” she said. “I’ve sent money, but nothing beats being in person with people that care about this as well.”

Ponce was concerned by the lack of media coverage on the protests until recently.

“It seems like those in power who could do something are very, very silent,” she said. “I’m glad that, at least from my perspective, enough people are becoming more aware every day, but it could be better.”

Trevia Woods came to the event due to her personal connection with the Missouri River. Woods is a native of Iowa, is part Shoshone and tried to participate in the protests over the summer.

“This pipeline, this same pipeline, is not only running through their land over the Missouri River where I grew up, but running through my entire home state of Iowa and disenfranchising people on both sides,” she said. “White people, farmers, natives, the whole works — and this touches me really deeply. We have to stand up. All this stuff is happening and people are just starting to wake up, so that’s why I’m here.”

Woods said she had encountered a college friend who was an engineer on the pipeline and who argued that the pipeline was necessary given America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“It could be done differently,” Woods said, “If we need to have this pipeline, then why is it being rerouted through indigenous and maybe poor neighborhoods?”

After the announcement, Woods was excited, but said she had her reservations.

“We were obviously not expecting that,” she said. “Of course, I wonder was it just a quick little decision that will be overturned in two weeks just to get the pressure off?”

Despite her doubts, Woods said she believes in human empathy.

“We’re all humans, we all drink water and we all need to remember that,” she said.


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