Why The NoDAPL Movement Has A Deeper Meaning For Me As An Afro-Indigenous Caribbean Latina

When the demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) first began in September, 26-year-old Bronx native Nasha Paola Holguín rushed to the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota to support the fight for indigenous sovereignty.

“As an Afro-Latina, I felt like Standing Rock was a culmination of everything and it was really important for us to have a presence there,” she told Mitú by phone from Harlem.

Vladimir De Jesus Santos
CREDIT: Vladimir De Jesus Santos

She wasn’t alone.

Like Holguín, hundreds of other young Latinx water protectors from around the United States and Latin America had also made the grueling trek to Standing Rock during the harsh winter months.

Vladimir De Jesus Santos
CREDIT: Vladimir De Jesus Santos

This was, of course, before the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers denied a permit for the continued construction of the pipeline on December 4th.

“I felt a very passionate love and dedication for my people. And when I say my people I mean all of Latin America: Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, because we’re all brothers and sisters who have been colonized.”

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CREDIT: Vladimir De Jesus Santos

As a self-identified “Afro-Indigenous Caribbean” woman, Holguín’s deep ties to her Dominican roots and activism were the catalyst for her journey to Standing Rock.

But demonstrating against the pipeline with other Latinxs from around the U.S. also brought the challenges of water access closer to home.

“This is also a Latinx problem because our water sources are also being polluted in the U.S.,” Holguín explained. “Seeing my Latino brothers and sisters out there just reassured me that we were after the same goal, which is our basic human rights as people and the health of the earth.”

Vladimir De Jesus Santos
CREDIT: Vladimir De Jesus Santos

Despite of the recent suspension of the pipeline drilling, Holguín and other water protector groups like the Last Real Indians and Red Warriors (who currently remain at Standing Rock) believe that president-elect Donald Trump will bring an increased threat to communities of color.

“Our people are really hopeless right now because of Trump,” she said. “But there’s so many of us who are willing to put our lives on the line for our people. It’s a good thing that all of us are coming together. The warriors at the camp gave me a lot of faith about the future because they think exactly like we do about liberation.”

Vladimir De Jesus Santos
CREDIT: Vladimir De Jesus Santos

Holguín plans to head back to Standing Rock during the next few weeks, but her decision to join the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline last fall will always be, according to her, a moment that changed her life forever.


READ: Dakota Access Pipeline Halted For Now, But Trump May Change That Soon

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