Austin Sonnier

The Climate Justice Hub, an organization at the University of California, Santa Barbara, hosted delegates from the Red Warrior Camp, an indigenous-led resistance group peacefully protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, at the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on Oct. 12.

The event was a part of the Red Warrior Camp’s West Coast tour to raise support and funds to stop the construction of the controversial DAPL.

The erection of the pipeline has created many jobs and brought thousands of workers to North Dakota. Along with the arrival of those workers, however, is a notable increase in methamphetamine consumption and human sex trafficking in and around the local Indian reservations, according to a North Dakota mother and Red Warrior Camp delegate named Julie (who has kept her surname anonymous for privacy concerns).

“We have an increase in meth,” Julie said at the HSSB talk. “And we see our sisters, our daughters; our nieces have begun to disappear. They are being sex trafficked. Those pipeline workers in the camps would use someone, a native, that they know from the reservation to recruit the young girls.”

According to Julie, the Dakotas have recently become a hub of human sex trafficking and 40 percent of the women trafficked are American Indians.  

“They’ll take them as young as they can catch. There was a case where the prosecutor was 13,” Julie said.

Julie discussed her own protests of the pipeline construction, referencing instances in which she locked herself to a bulldozer to stop the construction. She said she has been on the frontline each day, attempting to shut down DAPL construction while being pepper-sprayed and attacked by dogs.

DAPL is an oil pipeline currently under construction that would transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. While proponents say it would provide economic benefits and create jobs, the pipeline has been criticized for supposedly posing environmental threats like the release of toxic chemicals into soil, groundwater and Missouri River watershed, according to The Washington Post.

Other critics allege the pipeline will degrade the natural resources that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and an estimated 17 million other inhabitants along the Missouri River depend on, according to NBC News.

The Red Warrior Camp has been active in recruiting support for DAPL opposition as well as raising funds to purchase supplies like boots, gloves and winches, which would aid DAPL opponents in their protest. Some University of California, Santa Barbara students traveled to the site prior to the start of fall quarter to protest.

Thousands of indigenous peoples are uniting in solidarity with the protest, and the Red Warrior Camp is attempting to spread the word on its tour. The group also made an appearance at the Jade Gallery in downtown Santa Barbara Wednesday night.

“There’s no more bending drunken Indians over,” Julie said. “It’s time for us to warrior up again. It’s time for us to take our communities back and take our ancestral lands back.”