Shailene Woodley wrote a revealing essay on Thursday just 10 days after being arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.
The Divergent actress, who made her first public appearance since her arrest at the premiere of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s climate-change documentary Before the Flood at the U.N. on Thursday, published the essay in Time magazine, describing the importance of protesting peacefully and raising awareness for environmental and social causes.
“I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans,” the 24-year-old actress writes. “You know, those who were here before us. Well, guess what, America? They’re still here.”
She described the issues facing Native Americans and the injustice many undergo when their culture is appropriated.
“We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honor their culture. Headdresses, feathers, arrows. Moccasins, sage, beadwork,” she wrote, adding “You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. Walking around the flea market this weekend, I can’t even tell you how many native references I saw being used in a way that feeds our western narrative.”
Woodley stated that it took her, a “white non-native woman,” being arrested to spark anyone’s attention, outrage or prayers.
“The day I was detained, 26 others had to dress in orange as well, as they were booked into the Morton County jail. Did you hear about them?” she writes. “Twenty-six men and women who put their livelihoods on the line, to protect their children, your children and my future children.”
At the time of her arrest, Woodley was protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Bismarck, North Dakota. She livestreamed the incident and the video went viral. The actress pled not guilty to charges on Wednesday.
“The reason we were freezing our a—es off on Oct. 10 in peaceful protest was because the night before (mind you, right after the presidential debate and on the eve of Indigenous Peoples’ Day—coincidence?) the U.S. Court of Appeals denied an injunction to halt construction of the pipeline,” she writes. “As in: They began building once again.”
“The Dakota Access Pipeline, my friends, is not another time to ignore, mistreat and turn a blind eye to Native Americans,” she continues, adding “What if we took the hashtag #FreeShailene and made it #ProtectCleanWater, or #HonorNativeTreaties, or #IStandWithStandingRock?”
The actress also expressed her gratitude to the fans who sent well wishes, writing “I appreciate all of you out there who supported me while I was arrested. I am humbled and grateful for your love, your prayers and your hashtags.”