In Columbus, the looming Donald Trump presidency has added urgency and intensity to protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On November 16 the student group Socialist Students organized a demonstration on the Ohio State University campus.

“They’re building the pipeline through sacred Sioux burial grounds,” said Socialist Students member Mia Zerkle.  “This is the equivalent of destroying somebody’s church, or disrupting the Arlington National Cemetery. This is infringing on their rights and everything they believe in.”

 “This isn’t only an issue about the environment,” said Rachel Rouwenhorst, who studies ecology and evolution at OSU. “This is about Native American sovereignty. Corporations shouldn’t be putting pipelines through their burial grounds, prayer sites, and water supply.”

Rouwenhorst called for a boycott of the banks that are investing in the pipeline, including CitiBank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, PNC Bank, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and Goldman Sachs. “You can close your account with them and use a credit union, or a bank that is not funding this pipeline,” she said.

“Perhaps the most alarming thing has been the militarized assault of the people who are defending Standing Rock,” said Dana White, an OSU alumna and member of Socialist Alternative. “Organizers have been maimed, shot with rubber bullets, beaten, and threatened with automatic weapons. Over 100 have been arrested simply for standing up for the right to protect their water, treaty rights, and the environment.”

White expects that President-elect Donald Trump will allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed. Trump has between $500,000 and $1 million invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the main builder of the pipeline. “But the Democratic Party has not been an ally to climate justice or the rights of indigenous people, either,” she said. “In the past week President Obama has delayed the pipeline, but refuses to take a real stand.”

White echoed the call to divest in the banks that are funding the pipeline. “But let’s not stop at individual action,” she said. “We need to call on President Drake to not renew any contracts that OSU has with US Bank to have a presence on this campus, until it withdraws all funding for the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

White also called for action beyond boycotts and divestment. “It’s about being in this together: creating a grassroots movement that stands for the rights of indigenous people, people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and workers,” she said. “Injury to one is an injury to all. When we stand together, we win. Organizing is not an option any more. It’s a requirement. We have to fight!”

“Treaty rights, such as those promised by the U.S. Congress under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, made with the Lakota tribe to guarantee them rights over the land and water of the Dakota region, must be taken seriously by the federal government,” said Professor Daniel Rivers, who teaches Native American and LGBT history at Ohio State.

“If sovereignty — the autonomy of native tribes as separate, internal nations, a doctrine recognized as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court — is to have any meaning, then it must stand stronger than the money wielded by corporations like Energy Transfer Partners,” he said.

Rivers is a member of the Choctaw tribe. The indigenous perspective “sees the water and the earth as a living, breathing, endangered force that must be respected,” he said. “It sees the critical importance of balance and understands the fundamental truth of interdependency and the limits of power.”

Professor Rivers noted that his remarks reflect his personal perspective as a citizen, and that they don't reflect the views of the university. OSU requires its faculty to include this caveat when speaking in public.

OSU alumna Kyla Nardecchia, who is on the core #DeFundDAPL team at Standing Rock, is organizing  another action on Tuesday, November 22 at US Bank, PNC, and Chase in downtown Columbus. “We’re going to be engaging with the public on why we should divest from these banks,” she said. “It will also be a space filled with prayer, love, and music.”

The #DeFundDAPL site has tools for communicating to your bank why you’re closing your account, and links for locating a credit union near you.