British musician Kate Nash recruited an array of musicians, including Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien, Queen's Brian May, Tegan and Sara, Sia and Karen O to sign a letter to Barack Obama regarding the treatment of Standing Rock Sioux tribe members protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In her letter – which is also addressed to the Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers – Nash writes: "We are deeply disturbed by the police actions that have been taking place, where non-violent protests have been and continue to be met with extremely aggressive tactics including; being shot with water cannons in below-freezing temperatures, chemical weapons, rubber bullets and attack dogs. These are the same inhumane methods used during WWII and the civil rights movement."
"Since the election I have felt more than ever the necessity of activism and using the platform I am lucky enough to have to try and do something useful," Nash tells Rolling Stone. "I've been thinking of ways that musicians use their voices and what connects to people in a social media-led world. I was curious as to whether my Twitter followers actually knew what DAPL and Standing Rock even was so I just asked them and a lot of fans admitted they didn't. That's when I realized I only knew about it because of my circles. It hasn't been getting much media coverage and people don't even know this is happening."
Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Paramore's Hayley Williams, Sleigh Bells, Moby, Liz Phair, Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan, Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace, Vic Mensa, Mark Ronson and Garbage's Shirley Manson are all listed as co-signees.
Nash says she was inspired to pen the note and reach out to others in the music community after participating in a letter-banking event. Doing so reminded her of signing a letter two years ago in support of then-imprisoned Russian punk outfit, Pussy Riot, and Nash notes how excited she was that the band added their name to her letter.
"It feels hopeful," she says. "We can draw a different audience to the subject, spread much needed awareness and let the people of Standing Rock know that the music community sees and hears them and that we stand with them."
In the letter, Nash voices her support for a November 27th coalition statement written after the Army Corps of Engineers set a December 5th deadline for protestors to decamp (They later clarified that while no one would be forcibly removed, they could be charged with trespassing and be prosecuted.)
The coalition, which includes Camp of the Sacred Stones, the International Indigenous Youth Council, Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth, urged the White House to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, order a full environmental impact statement and end the violence taking place at the site. Over the last several weeks, protesters have been subjected to water cannons, rubber bullets and concussion grenades.
In closing, Nash writes, "We are aware of the long and painful history between the US and its indigenous people. Know that the world's eyes and the eyes of the music community are on you now as you continue to disregard the treaties you have with the Native American people and act barbarically towards them." The full letter is available to read below.
Along with Nash and the signees of her letter, the DAP protests have garnered support from other musicians including Neil Young, Dave Matthews and Mensa, who joined the protest earlier this week. Young also recently performed at Standing Rock and released the protest song, "Indian Givers," which will also appear on his new album, Peace Trail. Matthews, meanwhile, organized a benefit concert in Washington D.C. with Graham Nash, Neko Case and Ledisi, while Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Jason Mraz staged their own show in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Kate Nash Full Letter Regarding Dakota Access Pipeline
Dear President Obama, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Justice,
We are writing to express our shock at the treatment of the people of Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota. We are deeply disturbed by the police actions that have been taking place, where non violent protests have been and continue to be met with extremely aggressive tactics including; being shot with water canons in below freezing temperatures, chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and attack dogs. These are the same inhumane methods used during WWII and the Civil Rights Movement.
We feel strongly in the current political climate that those in power must be held accountable for their actions. We stand behind and urge you to take action regarding the following requests made in the coalition statement released on November 27th, 2016:
"We call on the White House to deny the easement now, revoke the permits, remove the DAPL construction workers, and order a full environmental impact statement in formal consultation with impacted tribal governments. Put an end to the violence."
We encourage you to remember that this planet provides for us, not the other way around. Water is life and this cannot be underestimated or taken for granted in 2016.
We are aware of the long and painful history between the US and its indigenous people. Know that the world’s eyes and the eyes of the music community are on you now as you continue to disregard the treaties you have with the Native American people and act barbarically towards them.
Standing Rock we stand with you.
Kate Nash • Hayley Williams, Paramore • Sia • Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day • Walk The Moon • Sleigh Bells • Ingrid Michaelson • Motion City Soundtrack • Moby • Tegan & Sara • Sky Ferreira • Tove Lo • Lykke Li • KT Tunstall • Kimya Dawson • Karen O • HOLYCHILD • Liz Phair • JoJo • JD Samson • Kathleen Hanna • Johanna Fateman • Jack Antonoff • Rizzle Kicks • Ed O’Brien, Radiohead • Nick Mason, Pink Floyd • Duff Mckagan, Guns & Roses • Billy Bragg • Bethany Cosentino, Best Coast • Ben Gibbard, Death Cab for Cutie • Black Kids • Cold War Kids • Clem Creevy, Cherry Glazerr • Emmy The Great • First Aid Kit • FIDLAR • PARTYBABY • Bleached • Jenny Lee Lindberg, Warpaint • SWMRS • Julia Cumming • Deap Vally • Jungle • Kiran Ghandi • Lizzie Plapinger, MSMR • Marina & The Diamond • Natasha Bedingfield • Pussy Riot • Parson James • Santigold • Rumer Shirakbari • Samantha Urbani • Rachel Trachtenburg • Mitch Grassi, Pentatonix • Louise Post, Veruca Salt • Skating Polly • Lori Barbero & Kat Bjellend, Babes in Toyland • Kojak • Gin Wigmore • Dispatch • Bonnie Mckee • Seth Bogart, Hunx • RAT BOY • Christina Perri • Asia Whittacre • Jackie Tohn • Lapsley • Chloe Latimer Kloe • Chris Desjardins, Flesh Eaters • Alex Didonato, Finish Ticket • Chris Porterfield, Field Report • Jenn Wasner, Flock of Dimes • Matt & Kim • Sandie Shaw • Tyson Meade, Chainsaw Kittens • Zak Starkey • Kliph Scurlock • Justin Tranter • Daya • Julia Michaels • Alicia Warrington • Ashton Irwin, 5 Seconds of Summer • X • Jesse Malin, D Generation • Mario Cuomo, The Orwells • Spankrock • Andro • Lucius • Alice Glass • Anna Bulbrook • Jessica Gelt • Tom Biller • Justin Young, The Vaccines • Julia Nunes • Rain Phoenix • Fitz & The Tantrums • Sara Bareilles • Young Volcanoes • Kellin Quinn, Sleeping With Sirens • Cadien James, Twin Peaks • Adam Slack, The Struts • Andrea McMahon • OKGO • Andy Stack, Wye Oak • Deerhoof • Amanda Blank • A Great Big World • Laura Jane Grace & James Bowman, Against Me! • Lights • Lyndsey Gunnulfsen & Alex Babinski & Brian MacDonald, PVRIS • Vic Mensa • Fat Mike • Night Birds • Propagandhi • Lagwagon • Mark Ronson • Gorgon City • Erik Hassle • Steve Aoki • Atlas Genius • Troye Sivan • Hana Pestle, HANA • Shirley Manson • Brian May • Cat Power • Icona Pop