NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Protests against the North Dakota Access Pipeline continue across the nation, and today Stephen F. Austin State University is raising awareness for the importance of understanding Native American heritage.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted a free performance for students. It showcased the Sampson Brothers who travel the world using song, and dance as a way to inform others of their culture.
"I think now more than ever people need to have more empathy and understanding of each other so we can be more progressive as a whole," Samsoche Sampson Said. "We have been doing this for more than 25 years, traveling all over the world and we just think it is so important."
This isn't the only way the campus is raising awareness for Native American cultural. In honor of Geography Week, Steven Moore who is an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund spoke on his experience with the culture. He said the United States finds itself at a pivotal point in history.
"The pipeline protest, the water protectors, is a moment in time that has become a very important symbolic, and actual movement really crystalizing native people," Moore said. "The Dakota access pipeline has become a social justice question, really not only because of cultural resources but the spiritual value of that place to the Lakota people."
He said in understanding the significance behind the protests now happening nationwide, you must first understand the connection the Lokota people feel to their lands.
"The history of America does begin with native peoples, before European culture came Native Americans had been here for thousands of years," Moore said. "So you talk to these people about the places their ancestors are buried, the vision quests they have had, and that really makes the connection important to them."
Both groups said that this is a time for Americans to come together and realize what is at stake.
"It's not just an indigenous issue it's a human issue, eventually that pollution and poison is going to go downstream," Sampson said. "It's time for everyone to realize that this goes beyond the Native American population and should impact all of humanity."