Sometimes it can be easy to feel like there are certain things happening around the world and while, yes, they may be upsetting, they may ultimately not affect us so hence we do not need to care. Quinn Jennings could not disagree with that thought more.
She traveled from Colorado to North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“I felt super strongly that the pipeline was something that would be so bad for the Native Americans and for the environment,” Jennings said.
Jennings started her interest in this particular project in a simple way after finding out about it through social media.
“I started my involvement by just researching and informing myself and then donating to the Oceti Sakowin camp and signing the petition against the pipeline, which are too super simple actions that everyone could do from home,” Jennings said.
But yet her passion for justice grew stronger and the stars aligned perfectly for her to go, given that she is taking a year off from school and has recently quit her job in order to travel and show her support for the Native Americans.
“I decided I would go to represent not only myself but all of the amazing people who had their hearts in the right place but just couldn’t make it work,” Jennings said.
Jennings also cites her youth as reason for going and voicing her beliefs.
“I really do think that as a young person it is my responsibility to protect the earth that is, has and will continue to give me life and furthermore to respect and protect the Native Americans whose land this has and should always be,” Jennings said.
Also for Jennings this was more than just a social issue; it was an environmental one.
“With pipelines like the DAPL it’s never a question of if it will break, it is when it will break because steel wears out and accidents happen and pipelines break,” Jennings said.
In terms of this affecting us here snug and cozy on CSU’s campus, it does not necessarily mean it will never affect us or our families.
“So this specific pipeline doesn’t directly affect you where you are?” Jennings asked. “Well big oil companies won’t stop with Standing Rock, the next one may affect you, and if it doesn’t there will be plenty more. If we don’t stand up to big oil right now we won’t have a planet to stand up for.”
Jennings also describes the overall atmosphere of the camp that the protesters stayed as “overpowering and boundless love and unity,” Jennings said.
“This love is a powerful one,” Jennings said. “It was so accepting and there was no place for rudeness or violence. There were few rules on the camp but the ones I distinctly remember are that ‘we are to be peaceful and prayerful’ and that ‘there is no room for ‘isms’ on the camp,’” Jennings said.
This was also a unique protest in that it was non-violent and hence represented a different way of thinking and feeling in terms of global issues.
“The coolest feeling for me was that I felt powerful but not in the traditional way that you would think of powerful, like violent or selfish or anything like that, it was like a powerful that made me feel like I could change the world with peace and love, which is such an amazing feeling,” Jennings said.
While the protestors themselves were peaceful and simply standing up for themselves, fear of the situation still existed on site, especially for many outsiders.
“For me, it was so scary arriving all alone with really no idea where I was going or what I was going to find when I got there,” Jennings said. “And then of course I was worried about the police violence and the possibility that I was going to be arrested.”
The emotion, the love, the power, the absolute fear of the situation and being on the front line can be so much it is overbearing. There is so much going on it is hard to remain at peace with oneself.
“I remember distinctly that at the first (protest) that I went to that as soon as I knelt down in front of the police force all in their riot gear with their mace and batons and guns, I just started crying, and at first I was embarrassed and tried to hide it, but then I realized that that was dumb,” Jennings said. “I was scared and angry and hurt and feeling so much emotion and pain, and I wanted those police officers to see it; I wanted them to see the emotion of thousands of natives and non-natives that I felt for in my heart. And I knew that that could be more powerful than any act of violence could ever be.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been stopped from passing through this camp with the help of protesters like Jennings.
“I couldn’t even believe that we as a nation are finally acknowledging and respecting the native Americans and their land and traditions,” Jennings said. “I hope that this event is never forgotten because I think it’s a huge step in the right direction for a new generation of Earth protectors.”