Written by Melanie Oliva. Photos by JohnBob Carlos.

There’s a popular hashtag being used by Cleveland Indians fans to express their hope that the Indians will win this “historic” World Series against the Chicago Cubs. I #BELIEVE this hashtag’s meaning needs a re-do. While Cleveland’s mascot will take some time and money to change (but isn’t it time?!), a hashtag’s meaning is something we can alter immediately, if only in our own minds… and #BELIEVELAND happens to be #FAIRGAME.

I #BELIEVE meaning exists in everything and nothing is coincidence.

I also #BELIEVE the universe or a higher power repeatedly orchestrates events for a greater purpose. With a hashtag campaign, enough people have to see the hashtag, understand its meaning and replay those same letters on social media for the campaign to be successful.

I #BELIEVE it’s no coincidence the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series while thousands of Native American Water Protectors are purposefully occupying the #LAND near Standing Rock that was first granted to them by the Sioux Treaty of 1868 and then taken away by Congress.

I #BELIEVE the universe is waiting for enough of us to see, understand and replay the meaning of two historic events colliding to consider this “campaign” a success. But for that to happen, we must first all be aware, and that process has been slowed considerably due to lack of media coverage. In case you need to catch up:

Five hundred distinct tribes have come together over the last several months in what’s the largest show of Native American solidarity in 100 years, near the Standing Rock reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Hundreds of supporters have joined the thousands of Water Protectors, including some all-stars, and more are on their way according to social media. The Lakota Sioux and many others are there to peacefully advocate for their right to clean water, their right to be heard and their right to be treated fairly, after hundreds of years of mistreatment by the U.S. government. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which is already under construction by Energy Transfer Partners, threatens water quality of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers near Standing Rock and has already destroyed sacred Sioux burial grounds. It’s important to note that the project was first routed through Bismarck, but that plan was rejected by residents due to its proximity to municipal water sources.

Meanwhile, a sports team with a degrading mascot and logo is getting more media coverage than Native Americans who are taking a monumental stand for their future.

As a former Chicagoan, I can understand how big of a deal it is for baseball fans that Chicago and Cleveland are in the World Series. I agree that people need outlets for fun and things to be excited about, especially in this age of 60-hour work weeks. However, when the mainstream media deems entertainment more important than Native Americans’ right to clean water – after they’ve endured hundreds of years of broken treaties, discrimination and disenfranchisement – there’s a major-league problem. The fact that a sports team’s mascot is the “Indians” in 2016 further emphasizes just how behind we are as a society in understanding the meaning of anything.


Yet, I #BELIEVE we all can learn from these brave Water Protectors, who are so closely connected with nature, actively caring for the #LAND that we all live on. It’s time for the rest of us to see, understand and replay the meaning behind the carefully-orchestrated collision of these two historic events.

I also #BELIEVE that if a sports team exploits a group of people by using them as their mascot, that team should be obligated to use their power with the media to support that very group of people… and then expeditiously change their mascot.

Because, I #BELIEVE we are all equal and should all be treated respectfully. That all of Earth’s inhabitants have the right to clean water. I #BELIEVE we should stand up for each other and ourselves. And there is strength in numbers. I #BELIEVE this #LAND should be cared for by all of us.

I also #BELIEVE that if just half the fans watching the World Series stood with Standing Rock, the universe could finally stop replaying this clip that enough of us need to understand, and the government might just say #NoDAPL.

#BELIEVELAND expresses my hope that the Standing Rock Water Protectors will win this historic fight against injustice, with all of our help. #ISTANDWITHSTANDINGROCK. Will you? To help the stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, please sign this petition to the White House or support the Standing Rock Sioux by making a monetary or supply contribution.

© 2016. All images are property of JohnBob Carlos.


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