Students organize benefit concert for Standing Rock

Wesley Story

Plans for a benefit concert to help the protesters at Standing Rock will move forward after recent reports that the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline.

The UT Native American and Indigenous Studies Department is sponsoring a third student-led initiative to support Standing Rock on Dec. 7. The months of protests by Native American tribes and their allies against the creation of an oil pipeline that could potentially threaten the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water supply have finally been met with success. The benefit concert will begin at 7 p.m., but as of Sunday night, the details of the concert were still being decided after organizers were informed of the permit denial.

The initiative, led by UT students Akshaya Tucker and Khristian Mendez, seeks to offer appreciation, love and solidarity for the community while also honoring the movement’s endurance. 

Tucker, a music composition graduate student, proposed the idea for the benefit concert to the Butler School of Music and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Department.

“There’s been a lot of focus on how these peaceful protests have been met with very violent actions,” Tucker said. “For a long time, I felt that what I do has been because I enjoy it, but a few days after the election, I started brainstorming ways to engage with bigger issues because it’s time to take a stand.”

The event will feature multiple artistic media, including poetry and music. Some of the performances will be more general expressions of support while others are directly about the issue.

“It’s important to look at the context of the protest because this is not a new problem,” said Mendez, a theatre and dance graduate student. “DAPL is only one of the battlefronts, and people have gotten very galvanized to respond to it, but it’s not the first one and it probably won’t be the last.”

Donations were intended to be collected at the event, and organizers are currently in contact with the Sacred Stone Camp to discuss how donations would be of service at this time.

Corporate communications junior Alyssa Hollander said she finds the amount of support the protests have garnered inspiring.

“People are becoming more educated on things that are happening around the country to historically disenfranchised groups,” Hollander said. “UT is a socially conscious campus, and it would be weird not to provide support, because our students feel the pulse of the injustice.”