(TFC)— Michael Wood Jr. is a former US Marine and Baltimore cop of 11 years. In 2015, a year after leaving the force, Wood shared his experiences on Twitter. Those posts relayed various forms of misconduct he’d witnessed or done. As Read More
For the last few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline has captured the nation’s attention. After Energy Transfer Partners started construction on a pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, local Native American tribes protested the pipeline on the grounds that it could pollute their water supplies. Word of the protests spread and thousands of protesters flocked to Standing Rock. After months of confrontations between protesters and militarized police, the Army Corps of Engineers paused the project pending an environmental impact assessment.
The Native American tribes and environmentalists hailed this development as a victory, albeit a temporary one. Donald Trump, who will soon be taking office, has vowed to complete the DAPL and has signaled a willingness to carry out this campaign promise by filling his administration with oil executives and people who have invested heavily in the project. As a result, anti-DAPL protesters are gearing up for a long protest season.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a report days ago investigating questionable surveillance during Standing Rock protests. EFF’s inquiry involved numerous law enforcement agencies, from the feds to Morton County. What was gleaned only highlights the disturbingly redacted capabilities of the police surveillance state.
“Following several reports of potentially unlawful surveillance”, an EFF blog reads, “EFF sent technologists and lawyers to North Dakota.” Investigators compiled “anecdotal” reports of “suspicious cell phone behavior”, unusual battery drainage, and applications or phones crashing entirely.
“Some water protectors”, EFF noted, also observed login attempts to Google accounts. After the intrusions the IP addresses were usually linked to “North Dakota’s Information & Technology Department”, EFF reports. “On social media”, the blog continues, “many reported Facebook posts and messenger threads disappearing.” Live uploads, and uploads in general, normally failed to complete or disappeared once processed.
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.
Hundreds of activists have faced arrest since nonviolent demonstrations against the North Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, began last spring. While clashes with law enforcement frequently coincide with public protest, the arrests of numerous independent journalists, including Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, have raised serious questions about state suppression, free speech and the blurring of lines between activism and journalism.
Goodman was arrested after she posted footage of contractors using physical force and guard dogs to repel unarmed protesters at the pipeline’s construction site. Her video was shot on September 3, before the protests had received significant coverage from major news outlets, and quickly went viral. Five days later, Goodman was informed that Morton County, North Dakota had issued a warrant for her arrest, charging her with “rioting.”
A month after President Obama told the Army Corps of Engineers to pause construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux and those supporting them still find themselves in a dire struggle to protect their water and land. With winter approaching, the 300 tribes that are now represented at the Camp of the Sacred Stone in North Dakota are preparing for a lengthy battle.
In their effort to protect water, life, ancestors and future generations, indigenous peoples are also demanding that corporations, the U.S. government, and settlers respect the treaties and indigenous self-determination. This is widening an existing dialogue and expanding ties of solidarity to include more of us who are of white European descent occupying indigenous land.
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.
Things have changed a lot since I became an anarchist, not the least of which was learning a lot about the government’s role in regulating just about everything imaginable, and how it negatively affects people. Becoming an anarchist has also given me a deeper appreciation of being Native, as well as the reverse: being Native has given me a deeper appreciation of what anarchism entails. Yes, I know that there will probably be other anarchists that will denounce me being proud of something that is considered “an accident of birth”, yet they will conveniently overlook the fact that being descended from people who have been (and still are) consistently screwed over by a governing body “for their own good” means fertile soil for a bigger demand to dismantle The State™.
Growing up was not without its challenges. As a “mixed-breed”, I caught much flak by Natives for being white, and caught flak from whites for being Native. Even now, there’s still a lot of crap given to people who are not “pure enough”, and it’s coming from all sides. I was able to witness firsthand the traditions of my tribe (Oglala Lakota, in South Dakota), to listen to the stories, to watch how government meddling harmed those who were trying to make due for themselves and their families. I masochistically decided to go back and work as part of the Tribal Ambulance Service when I was a certified EMT-B, to catch that same flak as an adult. “You’re too white to be indi’n” was something I was told by one of my patients. Yet, not all calls were like that. Families trusted me to check over their babies. I was often fed (and fed well). I’ve had little ones hug me for just showing up. I’ve had older patients remember me from when I was a little girl, or ones that recognized me because of my relatives. Times like those reminded me of the beauty of a close-knit community, even past the flaws. Times like those also gave me a good look at how the government had successfully and repeatedly harmed my tribe for the gain of The State™.