On Monday, students in the 8-9s and seventh and eighth grades had the opportunity to learn about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation from someone who has been there. Ina McNeil, an accomplished American Indian quilt maker and the great, great granddaughter of Chief Sitting Bull, was raised on the reservation and recently spent some time with the protesters.
She described the commitment, resilience and communal spirit of these water protectors, whose efforts have endured into the bitter cold of winter in the Dakotas.
Ina also shared what it was like as a young girl on the reservation, living without electricity or indoor bathrooms. She recalled having a battery-powered radio which her family would gather around to listen to sports and other events. She said she raised to have the strength and determination often instilled in boys during that era.
Ina’s discussion built upon what our students learn about indigenous peoples in the 8-9s and what they have been exposed to this school year regarding DAPL. Her connection to MCS curriculum went even further when the seventh- and eighth-graders had the chance to meet her husband, Joseph Alfred McNeil, who arrived early to pick her up. Joseph is one of the Greensboro Four, a group of African-American college students who are credited with initiating the sit-in movement. In 1960, four North Carolina A&T students, including Joseph, sat down at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina to challenge the store's policy of denying service to non-white customers. MCS' sixth-grade civil rights curriculum includes a study of the Greensboro Four. The students were thrilled to have an impromptu meeting with Joseph.