Dakota Access Pipeline and Republicanism

Amongst the terror of recent news a common theme of these stories are selfishness, intolerance, and greed. In today’s day and age it is unheard of for a group of people to congregate and protect the sanctity of another’s heritage because of their own not heritage not being affiliated. It seems most Americans are apathetic to issues that don’t directly affect them. In addition to the apathetic voice, investors stop at nothing to create jobs (an obvious positive, I would be silly to oppose this idea) and make a quick buck. Many peers have pointed out the disconnect they have with their neighbors, and the american society’s inability to “promote the general welfare” as our founding fathers would have wished.

Like a white flag raising from a metaphorical ship of society, citizens in North Dakota have been raising awareness and gaining media attention for doing what Daniel Kemmis places the utmost importance on in “Barn Raising” for weeks.Kemmis was born and raised in Montana in the late 1940s, and was brought up in a community that greatly helped each other. In “The Barn Raising” he paints a story in the reader’s mind of neighbors coming together and raising a barn when his family was in need. His mother disapproved of one of the Albert, a neighbor assisting in the barn raising, and the stories he told. She was forced to bite her tongue, because the family needed Albert to raise the barn, because of the neighborhood “pact” or so to speak. All in all, the barn was raised and the moral of the story Kemmis paints is that the barn couldn’t be raised alone, and the neighborhood came together on the great plains of Montana.  After news of an access pipeline being created from North Dakota to Illinois, directly passing through an ancient Sioux burial ground, protests erupted. Regardless of Sioux tribe affiliation, ecologists, ethnobiologists and justice seekers came together and let Energy Transfer Partners, the pipe’s developer know of their disapproval.  As we discussed in class, republicanism has an objective standpoint to it. If we are observing a pen from one corner of the room, we can’t understand what the pen looks like from the opposite side without the help of someone who can actually view the pen from the opposite side. We are dependent on each other, and there is mutual agreement and respect to share our ideas. In a way, the various occupations of protesters coming together and sharing the knowledge of their field in relation to the outcome of the pipeline’s creation requires objectivity.

As awareness raises for the Dakota Access Pipeline, as does protestor strength. People of various ethnicities, religions, professions and races are coming together to prevent the Sioux tribe from the destruction of an ancient burial ground. Kemmis tells readers “whether they liked it or not, a certain tolerance for another slant on the world, another way of going at things that needed doing. They found themselves an unsuspected capacity to accept one another” (Kemmis 24).

Kemmis, Daniel. Barn Raising. 1990.


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7 Responses to Dakota Access Pipeline and Republicanism

  1. It’s interesting to see the way you related Kemmis’ ideas in “Barn Raising” to a few different topics throughout your post. I also wrote my post on “Barn Raising” and Kemmis’ idea of cooperation in regards to neighbors, so it was a bit refreshing to see the concept from a different angle. I completely agree with your statement that, “In today’s day and age it is unheard of for a group of people to congregate and protect the sanctity of another’s heritage because of their own not heritage not being affiliated. It seems most Americans are apathetic to issues that don’t directly affect them”. Unlike in “Barn Raising”, we no longer have to rely on each other to survive, so many of us have become numb to issue that don’t involve us.

  2. ryanwadding says:

    You are completely correct, we do depend on each other. I appreciate you putting the spotlight on a group of Americans upset about an issue that is important to them and their heritage. It upsets me when I hear my fellow Americans outraged over protests of any kind, whether it be kneeling for the National Anthem to protest police brutality or assembling to bring attention to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The widespread apathy present in this country is unnerving, and I would even argue dangerous. Unnerving because I worry that our generation will lose the motivation to peacefully assemble if they believe their voices are not heard. Dangerous because when we do not voice our concerns, our concerns do not matter. Great piece.

  3. mschonbe says:


    You make an interesting point comparing the Dakota Access pipeline with Kemmis’ “Barn Raising”. I think this analogy is spot on. The fact that the community came together to protest to protect the lands of the Sioux against the Dakota Access pipeline is the epitome of a cooperative community. The reality is many people do not get involved in matters that do not concern them or their in group. If more people thought the way the community surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline did there would probably be much more publicity for this event. On a similar level, the Black Lives Matter is actually gathering people from many different communities to protest but the majority is still from the black demographic. Our society would look much different if everyone saw themselves as an integral part of a cooperative community. More stories like the Dakota Access pipeline should be on the news to promote this positive cooperation. Perhaps there will be more stories like this to hopefully promote positive change between the black community and police and other racial tensions as well.

    Great post!

  4. jakeivey says:

    When people gather together they can create and accomplish great things as a community. The coming together of protesters in North Dakota is a great example of how a community can come together and make change. I completely agree with Kemmis and his statements in “Barn Raising”. A community is very strong and when together can complete great things efficiently, like building a barn, as used as an example by Kemmis.

  5. pinkfreud96 says:

    The protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is an excellent modern day example of the need for communal power that Kemmis introduces in “Barn Raising.” In the same way, as you put it, that “the barn can’t be raised alone,” resistance against the DAPL would not be successful through the Sioux protesting by themselves. Thankfully, in addition to the numerous political activists and “justice seekers” present at the protest–including Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein!–over 200 additional Native American tribes have joined the Sioux in standing up the DAPL.

    The fact these other Native American tribes have banded together with the Sioux to stop the pipeline is most indicative of the underlying bonds of community that Kemmis describes. It is well-known that the various Native American tribes have historically been at odds with one another, often with violent results. But in spite of their multitude of differences and distinctions, these tribes have emphasized their shared experience and identity–as tribes in America–as a way to coalesce behind this protest. Very simply, the tribes other than the Sioux recognize that their lands may be next on the development docket–or already have been. To protect one tribe in this instance is the same as protecting the interests of all tribes. The principle in both cases is the same. Government and big business intervention on tribal lands is a recurring problem for Native Americans and has been for centuries. Like the windy torrents on the Montana plains, the American government has always potentially been a destructive force that does not discriminate in who it destroys (among Native American tribes). They must all come together, if they are to have a chance against counteracting that great destructive force. Thankfully, it seems that the DAPL has been put on hold for the time being due to widespread attention and public pressure. With the advent of this joint-tribe protest, the potential for stopping further injustices against individual tribes other than (and including) the Sioux may well be increased. Only time will tell if this groundbreaking protest strategy, the new tribal “barn raising,” will be successful on a broad scale.

  6. azwoodland says:

    Change can only happen when we’re united is certainly the message that Kemmis conveys with his piece, “Barn Raising.” That when we come together, we can accomplish something bigger than us, but that can leave a lasting impact on the community around us and improve the well being for all.

    At least, that’s the hope. But, how many voices are enough?

    I’m not pleased to admit that when I first heard of the Dakota Pipeline, DAPL (I’m pronouncing it “dapple,”) it wasn’t because of the disastrous impact that it would surely have. No, I was listening to a podcast and quickly they mentioned that “Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president, was arrested for protesting this week.” I had to look up what for. I consider myself a well-informed member of society, but I had never heard of DAPL and only heard of Jill Stein in passing.

    That’s the thing, though. We’re uninformed. Ryan states that our generation is apathetic, but I don’t believe that to be the whole story. Our generation cares, but we can only care about the things we know about. Stand on Palm Walk or by the MU and ask random students what the Dakota Pipeline is, who Jill Stein is – heck, ask them to name another political party besides the Democratic and Republican ones. How many would be able to do it? I think the numbers would be very low.

    But, ask those same students if they support preserving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s sacred tribal lands and historical sites, if they believe America is already too dependent upon fossil fuels, or if they believe that climate change is a large risk facing our country, and I believe that you would get a high rate of “yes.”

    We’re just not informed. We need to be informed. We are a generation of powerful, opinionated people. We care. But we cannot unite behind causes we do not know exist. I stand with the Sioux and thirty other nations who have united to protect the land of North Dakota, but without the brief mention of Jill Stein’s protest, maybe I wouldn’t know to stand at all.

  7. Very interesting and timely post indeed. Nonetheless, I would like to comment on few points you have made. You mentioned how investors are always raising the excuse of creating jobs, and I do not think that is accurate. First, economists signal that consumers and not investors are responsible for job creation, and that the demand drives capital and not the other way around. Then, creating jobs should not be the only reason to privilege capital, and I think we should start thinking about the societal added value of any investment or the negative effects an investment could have on the society as a whole.
    You also touched on the idea of coming together and would like to push on it more. Diversity of perspectives is a catalyst to productivity and is very healthy to workplaces and decision-making circles, so even for the most self-interested person should support diversity of opinions and backgrounds and promote their dialogue in a public arena despite our personal differences.

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