A week after she was arrested on trespassing charges during a peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Shailene Woodley penned an essay for Time explaining why the cause she supports is so important to many Americans.
“I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans,” she began. “Well, guess what, America? They’re still here. And they are still fighting the good fight. A fight that serves each and every one of us. They are still putting their lives on the line to protect the roots that feed our existence. And, guess what else, dear America? They are still being ignored.”
Accusing many of appropriating their culture — ahem hipster Coachella goers — while ignoring their struggles, Woodley claimed the story only got national attention because she, a famous white woman, was arrested.
“Treaties are broken. Land is stolen. Dams are built. Reservations are flooded. People are displaced. Yet we fail to notice. We fail to acknowledge. We fail to act,” she wrote. “So much so that it took me, a white non-native woman being arrested on Oct 10th in North Dakota, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to bring this cause to many people’s attention. And to the forefront of news publications around the world.”
“The day I was detained, 26 others had to dress in orange as well, as they were booked into the Morton County jail. Did you hear about them?” the Divergent star continued. “Twenty-six men and women who put their livelihoods on the line, to protect their children, your children and my future children.”
Insisting that the Dakota Access Pipeline will one day break — “we know that too many pipelines do” — and contaminate the drinking water for millions, Woodley urged readers to take a stand against the controversial construction project, arguing, “We have the technology for renewable energy, and it’s up to us to begin utilizing.”
“I appreciate all of you out there who supported me while I was arrested. I am humbled and grateful for your love, your prayers and your hashtags,” she penned. “And what could it look like if we learned from this instance, where it took myself getting detained to raise awareness about Native Americans? What if we used it as a catalyst for a full societal shift in the way we start thinking and treating and learning from indigenous peoples? So that in the future, it doesn’t require a non-native celebrity to bring attention to the cause.”
“I am not scared. I am not afraid. I am grateful, and I am amazed to be standing by the sides of so many peaceful warriors,” Woodley concluded. “Simply feeding off the hype of a celebrity’s arrest ain’t going to save the world. But, standing together will. Please stand in solidarity with the Sioux people of Standing Rock Reservation to ensure that we still have rivers to swim in, springs to drink from and lakes to float on.”
As previously reported, the 24-year-old pleaded not guilty to one count of misdemeanor criminal trespass and one count of misdemeanor engaging in a riot. According to Woodley, the protest was a peaceful one filled with “native grandmothers and children smudging sage and singing songs” and the police took her into custody while she was walking back to her RV.