Note: This post has been edited for clarity and to refine certain points.
First, I wish to express support for the Standing Rock protest against the construction of an oil pipeline that places American Indian cultural sites and water at risk. Second, I have little doubt that the following has occurred as I have witnessed similar behaviors in other contexts:
Concerns have been raised by protestors on social media, who claim that people are arriving at the Standing Rock demonstration for the “cultural experience” and treating it like Burning Man festival.
Protestor Alicia Smith wrote on Facebook: “On my way back from the camps. Need to get something off my chest that I witnessed and found very disturbing in my brief time there that I believe many others have started to speak up about as well.
“White people are colonizing the camps. I mean that seriously. Plymouth rock seriously. They are coming in, taking food, clothing and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols.
“These people are treating it like it is Burning Man or The Rainbow Gathering and I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to those festivals.”
Ms Smith observed that many protestors appeared to be living off the native American community, and were taking advantage of donations sent in for the cause. Another Twitter user said they had witnessed a protestor turn down tap water to spend donations on ‘fluoride free’ water.
- Roisin O’Connor, “Standing Rock: North Dakota access pipeline demonstrators say white people are ‘treating protest like Burning Man,'” Independent, November 28, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/standing-rockth-dakota-access-pipeline-burning-man-festival-a7443266.html↩