Shailene Woodley is not your average starlet. She is using her voice and recognition for so much, following in the footsteps of other passionate actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson. But, unlike many of her socially aware contemporaries, Woodley is even facing jail time in the name of her cause. Now, in a powerful 1,255-word essay published by Time, the 24-year-old actress is addressing the reason behind her October 10 arrest — and why she's proud to have her name in headlines for protesting against the North Dakota Pipeline. The multi-state crude oil pipeline is a billion-dollar project that would destroy sacred Native American land, disrupt the homes of thousands of people in the Sioux tribe, and likely affect the quality of drinking water in the area.
In her essay, Woodley talks about the lack of respect for indigenous people, even on their own land. "I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans. You know, those who were here before us. Well, guess what, America? They’re still here. And they are still fighting the good fight. A fight that serves each and every one of us. They are still putting their lives on the line to protect the roots that feed our existence. And, guess what else, dear America? They are still being ignored." She continued, expressing her gratitude for being able to protest alongside such brave and inspirational individuals. "I am not scared," she writes. "I am not afraid. I am grateful, and I am amazed to be standing by the sides of so many peaceful warriors. Standing Rock 'protests' are rooted in ceremony and in prayer. I’ve been there." She also requests that those interested read more about the proposed oil pipeline and the effects it would have on the surrounding communities. Woodley's lawyer announced on October 19 that she would be pleading not guilty to her charges.