Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Knitting group hopes to keep activists warm at Standing Rock

Lucas Jackson, Reuters, Bangor Daily News

Posted on December 10, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

Kelly Scrima, Free Pres Staff

“I would tell the protesters at Standing Rock to keep up the good fight and stand firm,” said Roberta Ransley-Matteau, Cartographic Cataloguer at the Osher Map Library. Ransley-Matteau started the Carto-Crafters, a group that works on “knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing, and more,” about a year ago.

“We meet on Thursdays from 4:30 P.M. to 6 P.M., because the map library is open until 8. So that gives us time to knit, crochet, sew, or do other crafts,”

Ransley-Matteau said. The group caters to people of all levels of skills, whether that be first-time or seasoned knitters. The Carto-Crafters meet in the reading room located within the Osher Map Library on the Portland campus, adjacent to the Glickman Library.

I suggested that perhaps we could send hats, scarves, mittens to the protesters at Standing Rock since winter was fast approaching,” she said on the group’s most recent project. “I saw a box in the main lobby of the Glickman Library which began to get filled with warm clothing. The carto-crafters were very receptive and they did a wonderful job with hats, scarves and cowls. We sent a box with our donations about two weeks ago. I hope it got there!”

In North Dakota, much like here in Maine, the winters are cold, and seeing as protesters are exposed to the elements, it is vital for their health and safety to stay warm. Temperatures can drop below freezing this time of year, so the warm clothing made by USM’s Carto-Crafters could be of great use to those at Standing Rock.

The current geopolitical climate at Standing Rock changes by the day and updates come in continuously via social media and other outlets. As of Dec. 4, the Army Corps of Engineers has stated they will not grant permission for the last leg of the pipeline installation through reservation land. Protesters have been camped out for months at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and have faced great opposition. Thus far, there have been reports of tear gas, rubber bullets and attack dogs being used against protesters. Protesters are standing their ground to protect their land, including sacred burial grounds and important cultural and spiritual sites, and to protect water from pollution caused by oil leaks, as well as uphold treaty rights (as outlined in the 1851 Treaty Traverse des Sioux and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868). The pipeline is a $3.78 billion dollar project that, if completed, would span a total of 1,172 miles.

“Yes it does raise issues of the sovereignty of Native lands. But the government has consistently violated their rights and they are doing it again in the name of Big Oil,” said Ransley-Matteau on the subject of native rights and land sovereignty.  

Even with the order to halt construction of the pipeline, protesters have reported that the oil company has continued to dig and receives a daily fine for the violation. The protests have brought forth an important discussion to have as a nation, and that is the topic of the sovereignty of indigenous peoples, as well as the importance of protecting our environment. We will continue to have this discussion as a nation, and as a global community.

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