ANAAY Releases “Water is Life” Photo Series

by Haylee Kushi (Staff Writer)

On September 6, the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) posted its “Water is Life” photo series on Facebook to call attention to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Construction of the petroleum pipeline has sparked outrage among the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies, who say that DAPL risks safety and cultural practices of Native Americans living along the Missouri River.

Ashton WIL

Ashton Megli ’18 (Choctaw)

The album featured thirteen pictures of members from the Yale Native community standing against a brick background at the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) next to a quote about the importance of water. The quotes, abbreviated from longer statements provided by each individual, varied in perspective: some explained cultural understandings of water, some admonished the pipeline for its environmental racism, and others told personal stories about how access to water (or lack thereof) has affected their lives.

Kyle WIL

Kyle Ranieri ’18 (Diné)

The photo series demonstrated that struggles for sovereign water rights and access to clean drinking water are prevalent in numerous Native communities. From the Hawaiian island of Molokaʻi in the Pacific, through the Navajo Nation in the American Southwest, up to the Mohawk Nation in Canada along the Lawrence River, Yale Native community members related to the Standing Rock Sioux. As a part of a larger national conversation, Yale Native community members are fighting to reclaim and protect water polluted in the interest of corporate profit.

Tiffany Hale ’17 (Cherokee), a Yale graduate student in History, starts her “Indigenous Religious Histories” seminar by asking students about relevant current events. “Have you all heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline?” she asked last Monday. Most had heard about the pipeline from social media – mainly Facebook.


Asst. Director Kapi’olani Laronal (Native Hawaiian, Haida, Tsimpsian)

“When books, research studies, non-Native scholars, and national news sources do not center our stories, we take to social media to share them ourselves,” commented alumna Dinée Dorame ’15 (Diné) in support of ANAAY’s photo campaign.

“We are storytellers,” she added. “Storytelling is resistance.”

Min Kwon ’18 took the photos on Wednesday, August 31st. Members of ANAAY as well as the Director and Assistant Director of the NACC contributed to the photo series.