Charger against the miles
Imagine living in a community already struggling. Crime, drugs, educational issues, the list goes on. What would you say if someone came to you and said they wanted to build an oil pipeline beneath your religion’s sacred land. Would you let them tear apart what your reservation was built on?
Jasilyn Charger. Then, 19 years old. Jasilyn is a girl from Cheyenne River Reservation, located in South Dakota. Born and raised as a Sioux. She travelled to Sacred Stone Resistance Camp to fight the pipeline, to fight for the rights to keep the area clean from construction on the land where their ancestors lay. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is set to be built on private land, causing stir between the company and the Sioux tribe, leading to thousands of protesters assembling.
Jasilyn’s statement when asked by Democracy Now if she thought they could stop the process:
“I knew we could stop it, I mean, because it doesn’t take an extraordinary person to do extraordinary things. It takes one person to have the courage to stand up and to really say no, to really stand firm and not take no for an answer, to really persevere.”
While protesting, a group of 10 people agreed to do a ‘water run’. Travelling 500 miles on foot. Running in nothing but rain for two weeks straight. Starting at 09:00 until sundown.
Later on, completing another run. This time a lot longer and much harder. 1,200 miles were covered in the space of a month. Joining them, some of the younger from the different reservations. Teenagers that never had been outside their own area. Never seen skyscrapers and never seen this much of traffic.
Jasilyn had a tough life. Her father died before she was even born. Her mother drinking away the days. Jasilyn dropped out of school at the age of 13, it didn’t go well afterwards. Drugs now being a issue, it gave her no choice to leave for a rehab to become clean. Leaving her twin sister for a long time was one of the hardest things she had done. When Jasilyn returned the relationship was gone, and they went from best friends to strangers.
We at Rothaugen school had the chance to speak directly to Jasilyn and ask her questions about her life and her fight. Here are some:
Question: Hi Jasilyn Charger, we just watched your'e interview on YouTube about the protest on Standing Rock and im just wondering what could be the best thing to do to win this protest? Thank You !
Answer: Well no one win when i comes to protesting. The fight is never over. We understand who we are up against . Because when we do succeed. We send our protectors home broken from the front lines some wound. Most different. The dapl works lost jobs.lost money. The best way to benefit both is the work and hello each other with out violence or hate. The way we win to change their hearts by selfless acts and courage. We were all afraid but we stayed because we see this is bigger then all of us.
Question: Hey Jasilyn! We have learned some more about the pipeline, and I have to say I am really impressed with what you have done for your community. My question to you is do you have any idols who you look up to during these times? Anyone you think particularly highly of, like, for example, Martin Luther King?
Answer: Well my idols are my people for what they have gone through and survived though and they still continue to fight. They are my idols because even surviving genocide. And yet find hope and love and pray and the strength to keep moving on we do not think of our self's we think of out children.
Question: Hey Jasilyn!
Can I ask, what was the most difficult part of moving to Portland, away from your family, friends and tribe?
What did you feel about being sort of alone in a totally different atmosphere?
Answer: Moving away from south Dakota for the first time was scary and strange. But it gave me courage . it was the first time I saw a city or so many different enthictys. I had my twin sister with me. I had never felt so lost and small . what hurt the most i couldn't see the sky or the stars. The hardest part was explaining to people what rez life is like. To talk to the tribe people of the cost what is like on the plain. To help people understand what life we live. That we can't just get jobs and provide for our family's. They made is. Sound like my people were just drunks and meth heads. But I remind them who brought the alcohol and meth to my people.its hard to have a decolonized conversation with a colonized mind. I am neither dog nor wolf. But I will have to learn to live and walk in both worlds.
by Niklas Helland