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Natives at Penn members strongly oppose President Trump's executive order mandating the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Credit: Elvert Barnes

President Donald Trump’s recent executive order concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline has sparked outrage among Native American students at Penn.

Trump recently signed an executive order pushing forward plans to begin construction of both the Keystone Pipeline System and the DAPL. The possible construction of the DAPL has caused recent outrage among Native American communities, since it is planned to affect the native land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Natives at Penn, a student organization that represents Native American students on Penn’s campus, takes a firm position against the construction of the DAPL.

2011 School of Social Policy & Practice graduate Vanessa Iyua, an active member of the organization, noted that reconciling with the intersection of Native American rights and the fight against the DAPL is important for our country moving forward.

There have also been other efforts on Penn’s campus to oppose the DAPL that were not centered around the Natives at Penn group.

Second-year historic preservation graduate student Xochilt Armenta was involved in writing a letter that opposed the construction of the DAPL. The letter said students and faculty “should support halting any construction of the DAPL until revised environmental and cultural assessments are carried out as requested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”

The letter was co-signed by three United States representatives and sent to the office of the President, where it awaits consideration.

Elizabeth Ellis, a fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, also recently held a discussion about the DAPL at Rodin College House.

In December, after the U.S. Army temporarily halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Natives at Penn made a public comment on their Facebook page, writing that activists must “continue to be in solidarity.”

With aid from the Penn Humanities Forum, the organization recently brought Winona LaDuke to speak, a Native American scholar who protested at the Standing Rock reservation this past year against the pipeline’s construction. She talked to Penn students about issues that affect Native Americans in modern America as well as the need to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Natives at Penn is a relatively new student group at Penn, but the organization has already been very active in their efforts to preserve Native American rights across the nation. They celebrated Native Heritage Month this past November with events including a community Thanksgiving dinner, a dream catcher-making workshop and a discussion about the Dakota Access Pipeline.