In this research paper, I argue that the indigenous communities at Standing Rock, North Dakota practice spiritual activism. Their resistance towards the Dakota Access Pipeline is not only rooted in Indigenous identity, but is also a form of spiritual essentialism that is shared among indigenous tribes across the globe. Although spiritual essentialism is shared among a surplus of tribes, their shared spirituality of healing directly tied with the earth and body can also be understood by non-Native people, if practiced without appropriating, profiting, and romanticizing Indigenous spirituality. Standing Rock’s choice of language in rejecting the word “protestors” and identifying as “protectors” creates an association between the interconnectedness of water, earth, land, and people that the term “protestor” cannot embody.
Largo-Anderson, Yitazba, "Spiritual Essentialism at Standing Rock" (2017). Undergraduate Research Awards, Hollins University. 37.
Undergraduate Research Awards - 2017 Finalist, First-year/Sophomore category