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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Water protectors engage students on UA campus

Shane Bekian

Andy Durant of Carole’s Homemade Salsa at the UA Farmer’s Market on the UA Mall on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

From indigenous and water rights to instilling the idea that we need to create a sustainable future for our children, the Chukson Tucson Water Protectors are here to stay and they’re here to make their voices heard by handing out flyers and using a cute baby to get you to talk to them.

The water protectors found their way to the UA’s Farmers Market on Feb. 22. on the UA Mall. Besides being able to purchase local honey and enrich yourself in hand-crafted goods from merchants, the water protectors were hoping to enrich your mind and ignite a fire in you.

The Chukson Tucson Water Protectors is a local organization that was founded on the idea of making an effort to combat the violations indigenous people face concerning water on tribal land. Summer Aguilera, a member of the water protectors, was talking about their cause to students.

The waters protectors’ current mission is aiming to get the UA to divest from Wells Fargo, which sits on the ground level of the Student Union Memorial Center. They want the Arizona Board of Regents to spot their support for a bank that they say profits from the injustices of minority groups.

Sal Amador, an organizer and leader for the water protectors, said the students at the UA found the water protectors and not the other way around. Chukson found its start at the UA from Students for Sustainability, which reached out to the water protectors and began this partnership for the rights of native people.

Amador said students who reach out and go to college are usually a great demographic for organizations like the water protectors because it’s those students who want to broaden their mind and look toward the future.

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Amador said that there is a possibility of destroying our ecosystem and that is one of the main reasons he can’t sit by and allow for the further deterioration or rights of people and of the planet.

“I believe that, whether these people are students, faculty, community members or just people, they don’t want a dystopian deteriorated future for our planet,” Amador said.

Danielle Richard, an ecology and evolutionary biology junior who is currently in Students for Sustainability in the social justice committee, said she heard of the Water Protectors from Aguilera at the Women in Green Leadership panel and decided to participate in the cause.

“You know how it is when you’re late and things pile up. … They pile up quickly, and 100 years from now they’re going to pile up really quickly and we’re gonna have problems you can’t sweep under the rug, problems that kill people … ,” Amador said.

Soukey Keovorabouth, an American Indian studies and sustainable built environments senior and former member of Students for Sustainability, was approached by the the club in regards to asking for his help trying to reach out to an indigenous organization who shared similar viewpoints on sustainability.

Keovorabouth is now a member of the water protectors and his first meeting was a eye-opening experience to a new organization that he can identify with.

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Amador said that the critical mass came together due to a wave of energy when they reached out to the marginalized communities in hopes of making an effort. One way they started doing that was to go out and educate students. One of Amador’s tactics of getting drawing people to talk about indigenous issues was to employ the power of his 19-month-old son.

Aguilera spoke with Sophia Mayorga, an art education senior, about what was going on at Standing Rock and how it affects us here in Tucson, while Mayorga talked about the Trump administration advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline with his executive actions.

“I feel like now there are so many things going on and I’m a person of color so I’m really aware of all of these injustices and I never noticed until Trump won the presidency,” Mayorga said.

Aguilera joined water protectors last November because she wanted to change the things she thinks are wrong with the world and the organization is trying to do just that..

Amador said students need to better understand the impact that they have individually, and as a society, on the areas that they inhabit, whether those areas they inhabit are geographic, political, social or economic. He said students have the power to create a sustainable future, but you have to advocate for yourself and be brave.

Aguilera thinks one of best things we can do in Tucson is to stand in solidarity, show support and continue the work because not everyone can make it to standing rock.

To find out more about the rights of indigenous people, the Chukson Water Protectors meet every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Global Justice Center 225 E. 26th St.

Follow David Pujol on Twitter.

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