ICYMI: Facebook Check-Ins at Standing Rock Aren’t Making a Big Difference

By Yessenia Funes Nov 01, 2016

Across the nation this week, Facebook feeds are filled with users “checking in” to North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Oceti Sakowin Camp or the Sacred Stone Camp.

These check-ins are an act of solidarity with the #NoDAPL movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline currently being built in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. As of yesterday (October 31), according to Inside Climate News, almost 1 million had checked in. It began Sunday night (October 29) after a message circulated throughout Facebook claiming that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department was using Facebook check-ins to monitor who was at the camps. It led to people checking in publicly in one post and separately sending the following message to their friends:

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. So Water Protecters are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them.
This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes. Will you join me in Standing Rock?

Within hours it became clear that this message did not originate with water protectors on the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota, though they have provided the majority of information regarding pipeline actions via Facebook. (It’s still not clear where the post originated.) Additionally, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department called these claims false on a Facebook post.

Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network who has been on the frontlines, shared his thoughts on the Facebook check-ins in a post. He wrote that the act wasn’t the “huge gamechanger” allies may have hoped it would be. He also emphasized that water protectors are being “watched by plane and helicopter.” Goldtooth continued:

Our phones are tapped. Our text messages are being seen. Our social media is being mined for data and tracking. Our conversations are being logged by undercover cops. This is all happening.

So if anything…."checking in" helps show the racist arses at Morton County police department that we are more than just some rabble rousers in a field…we are a fucking global movement of pipeline fighters. So check in and come see the view. 

As of today (November 1), people are still checking in, but they are using a separate message to voice their support of the movement. It reads partly:

I stand in solidarity with your struggles of oppression. I hope your strife ends soon and with no more blood shed. Water is life and should be considered a human right especially for those that have been victim to major genocide in the past.

I hope that one day human decency is restored and we can all live as one. I hope that we no longer bow down to the corporate enterprises that have deceived this country and stolen our freedom in exchange of profits and materialistic want.

The social media action has spurred several groups to come forward to explain what concrete actions allies can take that will help water protectors on the frontlines, such as donations, volunteers and petitions. In the aftermath of Morton County police officials arresting 141 people on October 27, donations can go towards bail and legal paperwork, as well as other necessities. 

In a statement the Sacred Stone Camp emailed to Mic, pipeline opponents expressed that supporters should “demand that their banks divest, their police forces withdraw and the Army Corps and Obama administration halt the construction of this pipeline.”

And instead of symbolically checking in, allies can go to camps. Volunteers are welcome, provided they respect the rules and culture.