DC 3rd Graders Visit City Council, Support Divesting City from Dakota Access Pipeline Investors

After months of learning about indigenous history on the North American continent, the 3rd Grade of the Capital City Public Charter School met with Council Members yesterday calling on them to divest the city from the pipeline following the lead of Seattle and San Francisco.

3rd graders lobbying for Wells Fargo divestmentCapital City Public Charter School 3rd-graders deliver their handwritten letters to DC Council members

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, 48 third-graders from the Capital City Public Charter School met with D.C. City Councilmembers Evans, Mendelson, White Jr, Gray, Cheh, White, Todd, and McDuffie and delivered handwritten letters urging them to support a resolution for Washington, D.C. to cut ties with Wells Fargo over its investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The students spent several months learning the history and culture of North American indigenous peoples and their interactions with the United States — in particular, the violations of sovereign treaties that continue to this day. Their lessons about the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America) culminated in their visit to the D.C. City Council chambers, where they expressed their concerns over the continued mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples with the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Our students have learned this country is violating treaties it brokered with its Indigenous populations,” said Jessica Papalia, one of the students’ teachers. “They were particularly aggravated to learn the United States continues to do so by approving construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on land agreed to be in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe territory. We wanted to teach them that they can use their voice to take action on issues they care about — including with their City Council.”

Councilmembers Grosso, Nadeau, Silverman, Allen, and Bonds co-introduced the “Sense of the Council Urging Reassessment of Relationship with Wells Fargo Resolution of 2017” in March. The resolution recommends D.C. reassess its relationship with Wells Fargo — in light of the bank’s investments in the Dakota Access pipeline and private prison industry, history of racial discrimination and predatory lending, and recent fraud scandal — and consider more equitable means of managing the city’s funds.

The resolution was developed with the DC ReInvest Coalition, a new collective of local groups including Rising Hearts Coalition, 350 DC, Showing Up for Racial Justice – DC, Black Lives Matter – DC, Democratic Socialists of America (DC chapter), and Socialist Alternative DMV. The coalition introduced an online petition shortly after the resolution’s introduction.

“We want to thank these young D.C. residents who are taking steps here in the city to ensure that Indigenous voices are respected and heard in the the country’s capital,” said Jordan Marie Daniel, founder and organizer of Rising Hearts Coalition, an Indigenous women-led group that advocates for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and is a member of the DC ReInvest Coalition.

This movement was started and led by youth,” Daniel continued. “I commend these students’ efforts to take a stand and continue generating awareness for Indigenous people. I hope our Councilmembers heed their call to respect Standing Rock and continue D.C.’s long-held commitment to social justice by passing this resolution.”