What you should know about the historic Native American battle happening now.

It's the summer of 2016, and thousands of American Indians from the northern Great Plains just came together to protect their sacred land ... again.

If this scene sounds familiar, that's because it is. During the Great Sioux War of 1876, a united legion of Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho stood their ground near a river against a U.S. Army regiment led by Col. George A. Custer. American Indians called it the Battle of Greasy Grass or Victory Day, but U.S. history books tend to remember the Battle of the Little Bighorn as Custer's Last Stand.

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.


This time, however, American Indians are not fighting against military occupation. They're fighting against an oil pipeline, for the sake of water.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a proposed $3.7 billion project, spanning more than a thousand miles from North Dakota to Illinois. If completed, it would be the largest crude oil line in the region — just seven miles shorter than the failed Keystone XL project — with the capacity to transport nearly half a million barrels of oil a day.

The pipeline was originally going to cross the Missouri River just north of Bismarck. But North Dakota citizens were worried about the potential damage to their water supply, so the pipeline was rerouted.

Under the new plan, the pipeline would cross the river less than one mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Never mind the fact that the United States has abused and pushed American Indians onto reservations that represent just a fraction of their ancestral property. Nearly half of the 9,000 people living on that 3,500-square-mile reservation live in poverty today.

They all rely on the river's water for nourishment and survival, not to mention its cultural and religious importance. Construction of the pipeline would also disturb sacred grounds and burial sites in the area.

"Our state of being is not our fault. ... And now again, even what little we have left is under attack," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "To poison the water, is to poison the substance of life. Everything that moves must have water."

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.

"This pipeline’s construction is being carried out without the Tribe’s free, prior and informed consent," the tribal council wrote in an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Standing Rock Sioux, along with other tribes in the area, first tried to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They also collected more than 200,000 petition signatures demanding an end to the construction.

When the petition didn't work, the Standing Rock Sioux turned to the United Nations for help, citing human rights violations infringing on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Legal processes take time, however. So while the tribes were granted a hearing in Washington, D.C., their court date wasn't scheduled until Aug. 24 — two weeks after construction was slated to begin.

Despite the Standing Rock Sioux's best efforts, ground was broken on the Dakota Access Pipeline on Aug. 10.

But that was about as far as the project got.

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.

The Standing Rock Sioux decided to protest. It started as a small prayer camp of about 50 people, some of whom had been there since April.

Within a week of the project's groundbreaking, the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, had swelled to more than 1,000 protesters, including members of more than 80 tribes from across the country, along with other non-Native activists. By the time the court date rolled around, estimates of the protesters' numbers rose as high as 4,000.

The company behind the pipeline was, obviously, less than thrilled. At first, it sought a restraining order to quell the demonstration, but eventually it agreed to halt the project until the court decision could be made.

As inspiring as it is to see so many people come together to help protect the planet, the state's response to the halted project was ... less than great.

The closest the protest ever came to conflict were a few traditional mock charges performed on horseback to hold back the police line. But no violence occurred.

Unfortunately, this was not enough to sate the concerns of the police and other authorities, who, protesters say, mistook their sacred ceremonial pipes for pipe bombs, and alleged that a protester shined a laser pointer at a surveillance aircraft that was flying overhead, among over accusations.

More than 20 arrests were made, and North Dakota state officials used emergency relief funds to remove drinking water and other resources from the protest site.

By the time the federal court date rolled around on Aug. 24, another protest movement had formed in Washington, D.C.

The court session ultimately ended with no decision and a date to reconvene in September.  So the outcome is still unwritten.

It was a frustrating result after weeks of mounting tension. But it means that all is not lost, and that there is still hope to save the Standing Rock Sioux's land. Construction at the protest site will supposedly continue to be halted, although it's not clear if that will be case for other parts of the projected pipeline path.

Meanwhile, human rights observers from Amnesty International announced they would be standing watch at the Sacred Stone Camp to ensure there were no more brutal police oversights depriving protesters of their legal rights to water or to assembly.

It's a small victory. But in a battle this big, it's better than nothing.

Environmental preservation isn't just an American Indian issue, of course. And it's not just about oil and water.

The future of the planet affects all of us, which is why this protest movement is so important. 2016 is already well on track to supplant 2015 as the warmest year on record, and the heat is only turning up from here.

As Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement: "This is not just a Lakota/Dakota issue, this is a human issue. ... We have to speak for those who are not here — our ancestors, for those children who are not yet born. Our ancestors left sacred sites for us. We have to speak for them. Children not yet born will not live without water."

I was taught to leave things better than I found them. We need to take action soon, or we'll be leaving a disaster behind for the generations to follow.

Learn more about the struggles at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation straight from the protest lines in this video:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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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