Justice

Halloween Is Colliding with the Standing Rock Protests in a Terrible Way

October 31st 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Just days after members of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were arrested, pepper sprayed, and attacked by dogs during their protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, they've been turned into a Halloween costume that's generating heavy criticism on social media.

Costumes that exploit Native American heritage are nothing new, but they’re being cast in a particularly damning light this year as the marginalization of indigenous people has made national headlines.

Indian Country's Vincent Schilling wrote about two offensive posts on social media.

One Snapchat image shows two women in a liquor store dressed as "water protectors" and holding beer cans. The signs are seemingly misspelled intentionally and make reference to Native American unemployment. The caption "Let's start a a riot!"

Native American "water protector" costume.

Another post showed a couple holding "#NoDAPL" and "Water is Life" signs.

Native American Costumes.

Twitter users slammed the #NoDAPL costumes.

The #NoDAPL protests have drawn national attention and support from celebrities, including Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo.

Writing for ESPN, essayist Sterling HolyWhiteMountain argued that Native American costumes are offensive not only for relying on stereotypes, but for erasing centuries of oppression faced by Native Americans.

What remains unaddressed is the true history of Indian Country, which is to say the true history of the United States: a story of abrogated treaties, of tribal sovereignty limited by Congressional law and of specious Supreme Court decisions, all of which have either hampered or destroyed the ability of tribal people to govern themselves as political sovereigns on their own land. It is this history that created a set of systems that keep tribal nations locked in a suffocating political and economic limbo.

For months now, Standing Rock Sioux tribe members and allies have been protesting Energy Transfer Partners' construction of the four-state oil pipeline, which is designed to carry nearly 500,000 gallons of crude oil per day. Protestors argue that the pipeline, which runs below the Missouri River, could rupture and contaminate their water supply.

Last week at least 117 protesters were arrested by law enforcement officers in military gear, according to CNN.

RELATED: Why Native Americans Are Protesting the North Dakota Pipeline