The Maori just took Standing Rock solidarity up a notch with their viral war dance.

This is the time for war cries.

A recent wave of support seems to be reviving spirits in Standing Rock, North Dakota, as pipeline protests continue.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

Since Aug. 22, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with many protestors, have stood their ground protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline — a 1,172-mile pipeline that will pump oil dangerously close to the tribe's water supply. Despite the fact that protestors have by and large remained peaceful "protectors of the water," authorities have injured many and arrested hundreds.


But the world's been watching, and people across the globe refuse to just sit by and witness the inhumane treatment these protestors are experiencing simply for trying to protect their land.

Support is being sent in many forms — from the tangible to the virtual.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

In just the past week, hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook "checked in" to Standing Rock to help protect protestors from possibly being tracked by law enforcement. A crowdfunding campaign to help with legal and camp costs that had a goal of $5,000 just broke $1 million. Actor Mark Ruffalo delivered solar panels to the protest grounds so they had access to sustainable energy.  

One of the more resonant reinforcements to date, however, was a powerful, visual message of solidarity from the Māori — the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Māori people performing the haka at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Photo via Tylee Hudson/Facebook, used with permission.

These Māori people are doing a haka — a dance and war cry traditionally performed on the battlefield, but it is often done today as an expression of pride, unity, and strength. According to Tylee Hudson who shot the video, this group was doing an Utaina haka, which specifically symbolizes working together for the greater good.

She said she hopes the haka will remind her indigenous brethren that they're not alone in this fight. The video has more than 900,000 views. Other similar videos, like one of a man performing a haka on the front lines at Standing Rock, have started popping up too.

The message of unity across tribes has been sent loud and clear.

And thanks to Facebook groups like Haka Standing with Standing Rock, with its over 27,000 members, that message will continue to reverberate around the world. As their haka declares in its first line, "The challenge has been laid down." Now it's time for others to pick up the gauntlet and join the fight.

But the haka is more than just a battle cry and more than just a powerful expression of solidarity. It's a whole culture of people standing behind a cause that's all too familiar to them.

Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images.

The Māori tribes, like so many tribes in America and around the world, have experienced oppression akin to what the Sioux are going through at Standing Rock.

Hudson is a member of the Ngati Awa and Tūhoe Māori tribes, which he says are no strangers to government pushback.

"Our role as kaitiaki, or guardians of the land, and tino rangatiratanga, the right to self-determination, is forever contested and challenged by the government," Hudson wrote in an email. Māori tribes often debate settlements with the government over land and rights, a common tale for most indigenous people.

It's one reason so many different indigenous tribes have joined the Sioux in their fight at Standing Rock. They, more than most, know what it's like to have their rights ignored and ultimately overthrown.

Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

There is, however, a sliver of hope in all of this unfair treatment.

Efforts made by the Māori recently resulted in a settlement with the New Zealand government wherein human rights were granted to the Te Urewera rainforest. It's just one example of a government recognizing the importance of the land not only to the people living on it, but to the world as a whole.

It will be much tougher for the Sioux to gain ground against Energy Transfer Partners, the private company funding the pipeline. But, they've got an army of support that is fed up with this injustice and growing stronger by the day. In fact, a $2.5 million donation was reportedly just made by an anonymous donor to release everyone who's been arrested at Standing Rock.

There are many ways you too can show support without heading to the front lines.

Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

You can sign this Change.org petition to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can donate to the Sacred Stone legal defense fund, as the legal battle over DAPL is ongoing. You can also send specific, much needed supplies to the campground. Or join the Haka Standing with Standing Rock group to find out more and to enjoy the performative spirit of those uploading their own haka to show support.

The Sioux, like the Māori, and indigenous people all over the world, are fighting a war they've been fighting since colonization of their lands began. It's the fight to be treated fairly rather than pushed aside as they have been for centuries.

It's time for all of us, indigenous people or not, to stand behind them in any way we can, and shout to the powers that be with all our might — this is not how you treat people, is not how you treat the land, and this is not how you treat a culture.

There are few battles that warrant impassioned war cries more.

Watch the full Māori haka here:

Māori Solidarity with Standing Rock Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi #standingwithstandingrock

Posted by Tylee Hudson on Saturday, October 29, 2016
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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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