On his fourth day in office, President Trump signed executive orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and to expedite environmental reviews. The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline would cut through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ancestral lands, and potential oil leaks threaten their access to clean water.
Whenever and wherever the health of our water is threatened, United By Blue has a responsibility to come to its defense. Although it is nearly impossible for us to have a meaningful impact just on our own, as a business with countless customers, cleanup volunteers and supporters, it is our collective voice and efforts that can have a meaningful impact.
And this is why we're leveraging our strengths to support a cause that is near and dear to all of our hearts. This is our small way to join forces with the Water Protectors who are fighting for the health, respect, and well-being of their water and the communities of people who depend on it.
Photo by Judy Wicks
*Since launching this initiative, we've sold out of our Water Is Life tees and hoodies. Our donation from T-shirt sales totaled $4,158, and our donation from hoodie sales came to $3,564. In total, we raised $7,722 for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. We couldn't be more grateful to our customers for their overwhelming support of this cause.
When United By Blue decided to take on this issue, I wanted to speak to people on the ground at Standing Rock to determine how we could help in a substantial way. Fellow Philadelphian and environmentalist Judy Wicks had traveled to Standing Rock to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the Water Protectors, and she connected us to Kei Kurimoto, a protester currently staying at one of the camps. Through Kei, I learned that this is not simply a passing issue or something that ended when the previous administration put the pipeline on hold. This is a protest that has been going on for years, and will continue into the indefinite future. The Water Protectors are more than a group of people that get together to stand in the way of the bulldozers, these are people who have dedicated their lives to defending what they know to be sacred — the water.
Photo by Judy Wicks
Kei was arrested during peaceful protests along with 500 others. United By Blue’s unwavering support of the water extends to the people that protect it, too. So we decided to split 100% of the profits generated from the sale of the shirt and hoodie evenly between the Water Protector Legal Collective, who are providing legal support for the protestors, and Build With Standing Rock. The latter will go toward the construction of a climate-adaptive community where protesters can comfortably stay throughout the winter and in spring, when rain threatens their current camp. In addition to monetary donations, we’ve sent Ultimate American Jackets and Ultimate American Socks to the native construction workers who are building this eco-village.
The graphic that we designed for the T-shirt and hoodie is a reflection of the flora and fauna of the Standing Rock region. The American Bison is native to North Dakota and an integral part of the region and the Sioux tribe's history, and we’ve always had a soft spot for bison at UBB. The river running through the middle of the bison is a reminder of the interconnectedness of water and all life. We borrowed the Water Protectors saying, used throughout their protest efforts, “Mni Wiconi,” which means “Water Is Life” in the Lakota language.