Protesters call for Chico State to cut ties with banks lending to North Dakota Access pipeline

Nicole Henson

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After Seattle voted to cut ties with Wells Fargo because of its ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Chico protesters are asking Chico State to do the same.

Chico State was the first public university in the United States to fully sever ties with fossil fuel companies in 2014. This raises concern as to if the current divestment plan from fossil fuels coincides to working with organizations who are helping fund projects such as installing a crude oil pipeline.

The University’s website states the divestment plan in fossil fuel companies is an effort to use every opportunity to move toward an environmentally sustainable future.

Local activists and members of the Mechoopda tribe held organized protests the week of Feb. 6 in favor of people and administrations divesting in big banks such as Wells Fargo. Protesters said they believe that if this becomes an ongoing trend across the nation, then these banks may divest in funding the installment of a pipeline that could lead to water contamination.

Chris Howell, Chico resident and Sioux tribal member, began protesting near campus Feb. 7. He had received word from the Indigenous Support Collaborative NorCal that the day would be a collective call to action against funding of the pipeline.

“I know Chico State uses banks who fund DAPL,” Howell said. “They don’t have a divestment plan, but we are starting to unify because we are not alone. Since Seattle did it, I felt strongly that Chico State could do it too.”

Samuel White Swan-Perkins, an organizer with Indigenous Support Collaborative NorCal, said he believes the first step in Chico residents supporting this movement is recognizing native territory.

“Begin by recognizing that all of us who are not of Mechoopda heritage reside on occupied Mechoopda Territory and that this land was taken from them,” White-Swan Perkins said. “Without this acknowledgement, particularly from the non-Native Americans, non-people of color who live in Butte County, the genocide that was forced upon the local Nations is perpetuated.”

The Mechoopda tribe has a plan in progress that will propose that Chico State sever ties with banks funding the pipeline.

“While the exact details of the plan are in the works, I can share that we have a varied group of professionals from the Native American and allied community working together to to address this issue,” White Swan-Perkins said.

Until this plan is mobilized, students can learn more about supporting this cause at http://everydayofaction.org/.

Nicole Henson can be reached at [email protected] or @nicohenson on Twitter.

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