Topawa, Texas (TFC)— Trump’s border wall ambitions may kick off another Native American-spearheaded political movement. One, some warn, which may match the only recently concluded Dakota Access Pipeline protests. At this resistances’ helm is the The Tohono O’odham Nation, possessing…
The protest at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, US has mobilized hundreds of Native American tribes as well as solidarity across the world. The protests are against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-billion dollar project that would transport almost half a million barrels of oil per day across the northern US. The pipeline could contaminate the Missouri River, a key water source for the region. It would also cross through a prominent Sioux burial site.
Although the US government stated last week that it would not grant the easement–the right to cross or use someone’s land–under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, the struggle is not over. The announcement cited that further examination was needed, and that an Environmental Impact Statement will be initiated. Demonstrators have said they plan to remain in the camps surrounding the northern edge of the reservation.
I regretted not having my computer and keyboard with me on this journey to Standing Rock. I knew that regardless of the notes I took and the promises I made myself to hold close to memory all of the things I wanted to share, much would be lost. Now, 5 days after returning home, that feeling is even stronger. I’ve meant to sit down and document the experience a hundred times since returning but haven’t done so until now for reasons unknown. I think part of the delay is feeling inadequate to the job along with the understanding that what I contributed to the effort is minuscule, in my mind almost insignificant and the juxtaposition of that feeling with the anticipation when we first started out is jolting. I have no idea where this narrative will go. I don’t plan to do very much editing and if it goes on and on and on and you choose to leave it behind, that’s okay! I can tell you I came home changed and challenged as if this is the culmination of 65 years of the journey so far. Here goes……
* If you plan to go to Standing Rock, be sure to check your ego and white self at the door when you leave your house. This is a hard lesson for many of us. It was humbling to say the least, to be in a community where my face and experience were part of a most noticeable minority; where my thoughts about what/how things should or should not go are absolutely meaningless and quite frankly, disdained by the native people who are on their own sacred land and IN CHARGE of every iota of planning, decision making and definition. I was reminded of the lessons I am still learning from Black Lives Matter – support does NOT mean leadership or decision making. Support means accepting that we are limited in our understanding and that often those whom we support have every right and reason to look at our faces and first see a historical enemy.
Authorities have only amplified an already ultra-militarized presence against water protectors at Standing Rock. Supporters and journalists are targeted, arrested, and charged with various crimes on a daily basis including renowned reporter Amy Goodman. Amy’s charges were recently dropped, but surveillance and abuse continue without halt by the government.
Democracy Now! has been on the forefront of Dakota Access coverage since construction of the pipeline began. The $3.8 billion dollar project has already destroyed sacred Native American lands and threatens water supplies. Although focus on water tainting revolves around native communities, they certainly aren’t the only one’s in danger. Dakota Access also flies in the face of pleas by climate scientists that literally no more oil or gas can be harvested from the earth, if we want to prevent climate catastrophic.
Don’t let headlines pacify you into tuning out of the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why? Well, because authorities just conducted a military-style raid on peaceful protesters. This is a story quickly being censored, with few beyond those on the ground really certain what’s happening.
The targeted group were actually in a prayer circle when authorities ambushed them. Several sources, including Native American Here, report police in military-style gear and vehicles held prayer goers at gunpoint. At the ends of shotguns and rifles were they arrested, despite the efforts of protesters nearby. Those who attempted to film the “crackdown” stated their Facebook access was blocked.
The Native Organizers Alliance has been supporting tribal leaders as they develop strategies to counter the powerful economic elites behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
At the center of the Dakota Access pipeline fight are some of the country’s most impoverished and most economically powerful people.
One section of the four-state pipeline would run through North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation, where 41 percent of 8,200 residents live below the poverty level and nearly a quarter are unemployed. Thousands of people have joined the Standing Rock tribe in opposing the pipeline over concerns it will contaminate their water supply and damage sacred sites and cultural artifacts.
People from multiple nations, and supporters, gathered in front of the headquarters of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) on September 24, 2016, to bring the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline to the front door of Kelcy Warren, the CEO of ETP, as he brought the pipeline to the front door of the Standing Rock Nation.
Meanwhile, 1,100 miles north of Dallas near Cannon Ball, ND, police dressed in riot gear surrounded the protectors of the sacred lands, and the North Dakota National Guard was activated via a directive from Governor Jack Dalrymple on September 8, 2016. The act of activating the NG was alluded to in an August 19, 2016 executive order, though not stated outright.
The US government took a sharp turn down Orwell Avenue after issuing an arrest warrant for renowned journalist of Democracy Now! Amy Goodwin. Democracy Now traveled to North Dakota to cover protests against a massive pipeline project threatening Native American lands. The charges arrive as activists are detained, and concerns of political suppression germinate.
According to Democracy Now!, Goodwin is charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing. Her team traveled to North Dakota to cover the pipeline protests spearheaded by a coalition of Native American tribes. The charges come after Goodwin’s team filmed Dakota Access security guards unleash dogs on peaceful protesters.