Anti-oil protesters in Montana are taking up the crusade against the Dakota oil pipeline and calling themselves “protectors” of the Earth in an effort to get their school to divest fossil fuels.
Members of Reinvest Montana, an anti-fossil fuel student activists group, rallied at an administrative building at the University of Montana in support of an oil purge at UM and the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, who are now calling themselves “protectors.”
About 35 people and speakers gathered on campus, with most focusing on how the fossil fuel industry affects black people and Native American tribes. Those in attendance chanted “Black lives matter” and “Native lives matter.”
Reinvest Montana also used the rally as an opportunity to toss support behind the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the activists currently protesting the construction of a nearly $4 billion oil pipeline in North Dakota.
Campus environmental crusaders believe their efforts are tied to the fight against the pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has consistently claimed that the pipeline would wreak havoc on its native lands and cause widespread water contamination. The tribe even rallied outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Aug. 23 while others clamored inside the court to wage a legal battle over the 1,2000-mile-long project.
Archaeologists inspected the 1.3-mile section along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline in southern North Dakota, and found no signs Native American tribal artifacts are present, despite what protesters argue. They found some animal teeth and bone fragments, but no artifacts.
An appeals court in Washington, D.C is currently weighing the pipeline’s future.
“Investing in the fossil fuel industry involves building pipelines in indigenous lands,” Reinvest co-coordinator Simon Dykstra said of the UM Foundation’s annual board meeting.
The UM Foundation, which is a private entity and therefore not obligated to make public its board meetings, is responsible for managing the university’s investments.
“The point today is that this is the one time a year when they are in town,” Dykstra said. “They are the decision-makers on divestment.”
The group has pushed the foundation for three years to browbeat the university into divesting, but with no luck. Reinvest Montana wants the university to move toward investing in sustainable Montana energy industries.
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