Six days ago, world-renowned actress Shailene Woodley published an article on Time magazine regarding the truth behind her alleged arrest. The actress was part of a blockade for the North Dakota Access Pipeline. She was charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.
The young actress was arrested on Oct. 10, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday where “America is meant to celebrate the indigenous people of North America.” (Time) Woodley is an avid activist, a feminist and advocate for equal rights. She states in the article, “I was in North Dakota, standing in solidarity, side-by-side with a group of over 200 water protectors, people who are fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
The actress tackles a huge atrocity in North American history: the forgotten culture and respect for Indigenous Peoples. Reflecting upon the actress’ actions, I can relate to her adamancy towards finding respect for the Indigenous Peoples. These forgotten acts of targeted killings due to racism is comparable to the Nazis of World War II. In Europe, there are laws against Holocaust denial, and the European Union established and approved legislation in 2007 that would essentially make denying the Holocaust punishable by being sentenced to jail.
America is behind the times; we are a people who pride ourselves in being open to a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, but we are still in denial of our history with Indigenous Peoples.
In the article, the actress states, “We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture. Headdresses, feathers, arrows. Moccasins, sage, beadwork. You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. Walking around the flea market this weekend, I can’t even tell you how many native references I saw being used in a way that feeds our western narrative.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the actress. Western culture seems to adapt their taste to native culture and use the culture to embellish their tastes. Coachella is a great example for this; it seems to me that every year the music festival occurs, more and more people ignorantly disrespect native culture. The worst part is that they pretend they know what their actions are involved in, but they have never really delved into the culture since 99% of the time, if you are American and you studied in American schools, you were not taught to delve into native culture. Only the great Sacagawea and perhaps Pocahontas, and maybe a little paragraph regarding The Trail of Tears are allowed within the curriculum.
I remember reading about The Trail of Tears in my fourth grade history book and wondered what was this event. I further read through the very small, very insignificant paragraph compared to the concept of “Manifest Destiny”.
Shailene Woodley’s arrest definitely enlightened America with current issues regarding Indigenous Peoples and the denial of their targeted killings.
‘It took me, a white non-native woman being arrested… to bring this cause to many people’s attention’ – Shailene Woodley