Shailene Woodley Writes Essay About North Dakota Arrest, Says She’s ‘Grateful’
Shailene Woodley is not stepping down from her pledge to protect the environment.
On October 20, ten days after getting arrested and charged with trespassing and riot engagement during a protest in Bismarck, North Dakota, the actress, who plead not guilty, wrote an emotional essay about her involvement with the cause, as well as her shocking arrest, for TIME.
"I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans," the Divergent star, who was arrested on the eve of Indigenous Peoples' Day while protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, wrote. "You know, those who were here before us. Well, guess what, America? They’re still here."
Woodley also chided America for simultaneously capitalizing on and appropriating the diverse Native American cultures found in the United States while denying Native Americans equal and fair visibility in society.
"We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture," she wrote. "Headdresses, feathers, arrows. Moccasins, sage, bead work... You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. Walking around the flea market this weekend, I can’t even tell you how many native references I saw being used in a way that feeds our western narrative.”
Woodley continued, outraged that people only paid attention to the issue when she, a "white non-native woman," was arrested: "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? Twenty-six men and women who put their livelihoods on the line, to protect their children, your children and my future children."
The actress also shared that while she appreciates all the concern over her arrest and the support of her fans, she'd prefer if the attention was turned away from her, the individual, and towards the actual cause.
"What could it look like if we learned from this instance, where it took myself getting detained to raise awareness about Native Americans?" she pleaded.
"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 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... [but] what if we took the hashtag #FreeShailene and made it #ProtectCleanWater, or #HonorNativeTreaties, or #IStandWithStandingRock?"
Read her full essay over at TIME.
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