A side-by-side comparison of the Dakota pipeline protest and Oregon militant verdicts.

The concurrent events of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge verdict on Oct. 27, 2016, shed light on our country's history of scrappy rebel underdogs, land disputes, and inequality.

On the same day Native American protesters in North Dakota were attacked by police armed with LRAD sound cannons for standing up to a private oil corporation, a group of insurgent ranchers calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF) were acquitted on federal charges after taking up arms and occupying government property in Oregon.

These two different groups of people each fought back against some incarnation of The Man, but with very different results.


To understand the irony of this, let's take a step-by-step look at the motivations for, and responses to, each occupation.

Ron His Horse Is Thunder (left), a spokesman for the Standing Rock Sioux; George Stanek, a member of the Malheur militants. Photos by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images and Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The inciting incident of both occupations was a dispute over land rights — each with its own unique and complicated history.

The occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a retaliation for what the ranchers saw as unfair charges in an arson case — not a contestation of guilt, but a protest that the government shouldn't have re-jailed the arsonists because of its own minimum-sentencing error. (The arsonists, however, rejected the Malheur occupation.)

The conflict with the Standing Rock Sioux of North Dakota has to do with an in-progress oil pipeline that could threaten the water supply for thousands of people. It also risks desecrating sacred tribal sites that they argued should have been protected by an oft-ignored treaty from 1851.

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom leader Ammon Bundy. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Religious freedom is a tenet of American culture, and the actions of both groups were certainly influenced by their religious affiliations.

C4CF is led by Ammon Bundy, a Mormon whose family has a history of insurrection against the federal government. He claimed to be acting under divine orders.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American tribes that joined in their protest also engaged in religious practices, such as prayer circles and ceremonial pipes. Unfortunately, authorities allegedly interpreted these rituals as threats on more than one occasion.

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.

The tribes in North Dakota employed various means of nonviolent protest. C4CF, on the other hand, didn't hesitate to escalate the situation with firearms — and, sadly, they were treated more civilly than the tribes.

Oregon authorities even offered to protect C4CF if they left the wildlife refuge.

Bundy met on numerous occasions with both local sheriffs and FBI agents looking to negotiate a cease-fire or a peaceful transfer of power. During the occupation, militants were allowed to come and go from the refuge and even held a press conference on the premises.

It was several weeks before federal agents put a plan into action to arrest any of the C4CF occupiers. No shots were fired, and no force was used from Jan. 4 through Jan. 26, 2016, when LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed (the circumstances of which are still unclear).

LaVoy Finicum disabling a security camera at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the occupation. Photo by Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images.

The Native American protesters, on the other hand, endured repeated assaults from public and private police forces as they pursued legal action.

While some members of the tribes tried to settle the dispute in court, others attempted to stand their ground at the actual site where the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, continued demolition and construction despite the requests from several federal organizations to stop. Several sacred sites were destroyed in the process.

North Dakota state authorities stripped the tribes of water and other emergency relief aids. On numerous occasions, tribal members were pepper-sprayed and threatened with assault by private security armed with attack dogs. Horses were killed, people were injured and shot with rubber bullets, and hundreds were arrested — including several journalists, one of whom is facing felony charges and up to 45 years in prison.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

C4CF was in direct conflict with the government. The Standing Rock Sioux, a sovereign nation, was fighting a private corporation and the public authorities who took its side.

Whether one agrees with the Bundy clan or not, there is certainly an established history of people battling government tyranny. And whether they win or lose, the consequences tend to be significant.

The situation in North Dakota, however, is a harrowing example of special interests taking precedence, where state authorities are used as the enforcers of a private company against the people.

If that scares you, well, it should. A group of armed rebels rising up against the state is very different from marginalized people trying to stop a for-profit company from further hurting them.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The Native Americans took a stand when diplomacy failed and were bullied just as they've been throughout history. But the white guys who aimed guns at the government walked away scot-free.

In his testimony, Bundy invoked some familiar rhetoric. "It’s for my children, grandchildren," he said. "Everything comes from the Earth, and if [the government] can get control of the resources, they can get control of the people."

That's not so different from the language Native Americans have used time and time again to assert and defend their ancestral homes.

Native Americans protesting the Bundy militants. Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images.

Whatever claims might be valid in their grievances, Bundy and his fellow Malheur mutineers still enjoy the perks of white privilege.

Meanwhile, Native Americans continue to suffer, fighting the exact same fight that they've been fighting for hundreds of years against a system that still won't bestow the same freedoms on them.

That's not the same at all.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
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It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.
Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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