By Marissa Matozzo
Excitement was in the air for most students the week leading up toThanksgiving as they prepared to return to their various hometowns. As the four-day November break approached, conventional American households were on the verge of celebrating with customary turkey dinners, autumnal football games and close relatives. For Native Americans, however, the supposed day of gratitude has earned its stature as a day of mourning.
Centuries ago, Native American communities developed a tranquil sense of nature and nurture that would coincide for hundreds of years. The Sioux Tribe, like more than 500 others that supported peacefully thriving villages, would later be subject to unfathomable violence and atrocities.
In 2014, plans were made by a Texas-based company to build a 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline beginning in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The Dakota Access Pipeline plan was first opposed by Sioux Tribe members. The pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, the tribe’s primary water supply, and transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil to Illinois from North Dakota.
The tribe argued that the pipeline would cross over their sacred burial ground, and even a small spill could damage their water supply. On Thursday Nov. 16, the Keystone pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in Northeast South Dakota.
Later that night, Hofstra Concerts hosted an Anti-Thanksgiving coffeehouse-style concert that served dinner with free refreshments to audience members.
“I’ve always followed the news about the pipeline,” said junior radio production and studies major Ben Abrams. “I sympathized with the Native American protesters and wanted to give back to them.”
Abrams, president of Hofstra Concerts, originally had the idea of hosting an event to support the #NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline) movement at the beginning of the semester.
“Our organization has done charity events before, like for Planned Parenthood, for example,” Abrams said. “So we discussed the event as an executive board and everyone liked the idea of giving back to this great cause.”
Hofstra Concerts specializes in hosting musical performances with multiple coffeehouse-style concerts throughout the year. “Music has always played an integral part in social activism,” Abrams said. “By having an Anti-Thanksgiving show, we can be thankful for the people who most deserve support.”
Donations were accepted toward the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Student Center cafeteria throughout the night. “We’ve always been a progressive club,” said Frankie DeFalco, a junior management major and vice president of Hofstra Concerts. “We are upset that there is still a debate about whether the pipeline should be built, so to get the word out is so important to us.”
Musical performers included students Eddie Byrne, Joe Guzzardo, Tom Parisi and Alyssa Johnson. “Music at its core is a spiritual and emotional experience,” DeFalco said. “This is why we put on shows like this.”
“With Thanksgiving coming up, we can show we are thankful for what we have by giving to others,” said Amber Donaldson, a junior mechanical engineering major and Hofstra Concerts’ secretary. “Regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, people are having everything they love taken away from them,” she said. “We can help prevent that from happening through music.”
Throughout the night, Hofstra students stopped in for the live music, free refreshments and to contribute a donation towards the tribe in need. “Music can reach an astronomical amount of people, and it is a way we can express our opinions,” Donaldson said.
Hofstra Concerts will be hosting more events like this next semester, as well as Thursday night coffeehouses and live DJ nights. “Overall, the pipeline spilled thousands of oil onto the land of those who had their livelihood stolen from them,” Ben Abrams said. “Our event wasn’t only logical, it was one with a lot of heart.”