Standing Rock is burning as activists are being forced to evacuate their camps — so where has all the celebrity support gone?
In December, when news broke that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had effectively ordered a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline — granting the indigenous activists of Standing Rock and their allies a historic victory — social media exploded with ebullient posts celebrating the decision. And the Hollywood contingent was all too happy to celebrate along with the activists.
That day, actress Sally Field tweeted "Bravo Army Corps of Engineers, bravo Standing Rock, bravo Sioux Nation. You've taught us all something of great value. Stand your ground!" Pharrell Williams tweeted a link to news coverage of the decision, along with the caption "Solid proof that people coming together can change things for the better."
Chance the Rapper tweeted "The people that defended Standing Rock are American heroes. God bless you." And Katy Perry tweeted "PROOF THAT YOUR VOICE ACTUALLY MATTERS!" along with a string of celebratory emojis.
Wednesday marked the final day of the Standing Rock protests, the evacuation deadline for the 150 or so demonstrators — down from roughly 8,000 back in December — left on the ground. The few protestors who remained at the Oceti Sakowin camp, one of the main gathering places for demonstrators, ceremoniously set fire to tents and other structures. Police detained 10 protesters, including Mic reporter Jack Smith IV.
"We're very firm that the camp is now closed," North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said during a press conference.
The final days of on-the-ground fighting at Standing Rock ended comparatively quietly, at least considering the momentum of December. As Mic's Zak Cheney-Rice wrote Thursday, "It's hard to imagine a grimmer — or quieter — demise for the banner indigenous protest of the 21st century."
Notably, many of the celebrities who had celebrated Standing Rock's short-lived victory were silent as the camp shut down. Perry, Williams, Field and other celebs who had previously cheered Standing Rock activists instead turned their attention and star power toward other issues, like the Trump administration's recent move to reverse Barack Obama-era guidelines meant to protect transgender students.
Even the celebrities who had visited Standing Rock in person — like actress Shailene Woodley, who was arrested while protesting in October, and rapper Vic Mensa, who spent Thanksgiving weekend alongside Standing Rock protesters — were noticeably quiet on social media as the last protestors evacuated the camps.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, said Tuesday that oil could be flowing as early as March 6. Though the end to on-the-ground resistance at Standing Rock has attracted far less attention than December's victory, the fight against the pipeline — and the fight for indigenous rights — will surely continue.
The question is whether celebrity activists, who could potentially inspire millions of followers to action, will tune back in.