Hundreds of Native American tribes across the country have been gathering to speak out against the construction of an oil pipeline close to the Sioux Nation reservation in North Dakota.  

Joining them will be Kelli Huth, Ball State’s Director of Immersive Learning for Entrepreneurial Learning, and her eleven-year-old daughter, Ivy.

“This all originated with a conversation with my daughter,” said Huth, who learned about the issue from a short Lawrence O’Donnel video. “We were sitting at the table and I was working on my laptop and she was drawing pictures. I showed my daughter [the video] and she got really emotional about it.

“She started asking lots of questions about it – what’s going on, and why isn’t anyone paying attention?”

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which originally was to run through Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, was moved to a site near the Sioux Nation reservation after concerns about water contamination. The pipeline will now cross under the Missouri River, which is the reservation’s main water supply, and there are significant concerns about potential contamination and the effect this will have on the health of the community.

“If you look at the rate of spills, it’s pretty dismal,” Huth said. “It’s going to happen sooner or later, so it’s just a matter of when their water is going to be affected, and how badly.”

The pipeline construction will also disturb sacred Native American burial grounds, and has resulted in many environmental and Native American activists speaking out against it. Huth said it was her daughter’s suggestion to join the movement.

“My daughter was just like, ‘why don’t we go?’" Huth said. “And I looked at her, and said, 'that’s a really good question, Ivy.  Why don’t we go?’”

The pair will join the movement against the construction of the pipeline next week. 

“It’s just a compelling thing for both of us to do personally, because of our heritage here,” said Huth, whose ancestors were part of the Miami tribe in Indiana.

The Huths aim to raise $5,000 in fundraising, and 100 percent of the money will go toward supporting those in the area with food, shelter and supplies to help sustain the anti-pipeline effort through the upcoming winter months.

“I felt like we needed to do something for more than just ourselves, to have something to give to them when we get there other than just our own manpower,” Huth said.  “But it’s not just about the fundraising. It’s not just about the trip that Ivy and I are taking. I’m trying to make sure that more people know what’s going on.”

A major concern for proponents of this issue, Huth added, is the lack of attention from traditional media outlets.

“Not only are we not hearing about this in mainstream media, but when we do hear about it, it seems like someone is being protected — and that makes me sick,” Huth said. 

She explained that it took a lot of researching to even find the name of the company who was building the pipeline. Articles referred to it simply as "a Dallas-based oil company." 

“It’s disappointing,” Huth said. “There’s just so much money and influence in the hands of the oil giants, and that has to change.”

However, Huth does see hope for movements like these in the future.

“I think that people care, and the fact that it’s slowly gaining more momentum even without this widespread coverage shows that people are concerned about it.  When we go, I want to experience it, to learn for myself, to gain more of a perspective on their struggles and their troubles, so that I can be more of an advocate for them, from here in Indiana.”

More information on Huth’s fundraiser can be found on the fundrasing website CrowdRise.com.