Big pipeline works.
The country has its sights firmly placed on the spectacle occurring over the hack/leak of documents that may or may not have influenced the election. It’s irrelevant. The people of the United States cannot grant the Central Intelligence Agency (or any intelligence agency) the power to cast doubt on the results of elections via unconfirmed, unsourced, and politically biased findings. At the end of the day, the precedent set by allowing a secret agency to veto election results is the death of democracy.
So what did you miss while this was occupying the national narrative? Lots. Troops are deploying to Afghanistan, the Boko Haram is back in the headlines, a new pipeline fight, and much more.
A new pipeline under construction in northern Mexico has become a major controversy involving the local Yaqui indigenous community, which is less that pleased about the Agua Prieta tube’s route (straight through Yaqui territory).
Things went from bad to worse on Oct. 21, when the pipeline’s supporters attacked a group of protesters, killing one, wounding eight, and causing no small amount of property damage.
The Yaqui tribe, which has endured a long history of repression, also has a history of mounting various resistance movements. Like other indigenous communities in Mexico, members of the Yaqui tribe have lost their lives fighting against invasive private companies and non-indigenous authorities. Just two years ago, before the conflict over the Agua Prieta pipeline, the Yaquis protested against a large-scale aqueduct that would have diverted what was left of their sacred river to the city of Hermosillo.
A worker from Peru’s state-run oil company tries to hammer a piece of wood into a gaping hole in the country’s northern pipeline. He fails. Repeatedly. The oil continues to gush with alarming speed and force. Dead fish float belly-up in the black slime.
By the time the spills were stopped this August, over 4,000 barrels of oil had poured into a tributary of the Peruvian Amazon – source of a fifth of our planet’s fresh water. Dozens of indigenous villages were left without drinking water and children were covered in angry rashes.
Leonardo Tello, director of a local radio station, produced a report illustrating these horrific images. He is angry, frustrated and heart-broken. Over the past 19 years the government has registered 190 spills, most affecting the Amazon rainforest.
Hu Sakpe, a French national was raised in the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. He discussed the use of equipment used by law enforcement in a previous encounter between the water protectors and the authorities. The encounter took over the course of a day and a night to push them out of the encampent referred to as “North Camp”, in late Oct. sighted as the 27. or 28. by Sakpe.
Hu Sakpe states,“We were confronted with a full frontal military force.”
The encampment no longer exists after the confrontation. According to Sakpe the assault started at about 9:00 AM. Law enforcement arrived with two BEARCATs (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck). After that, rows of armed figures marched in. 80 water protectors linked arms around the camp, which was located near the highway. Law enforcement boxed the protector’s camp to enclose them. Law enforcement swung at the knees of water protectors with truncheons according to Sakpe. Sakpe described the use of a sonic cannon, rubber bullets, clubs, and large canisters of mace being wielded by law enforcement.
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.
Tensions flare once more as North Dakota officials graduate their militarized tactics against protesters. Sheriffs have now threatened a blockade of people, food, and medicine to the camps.
The threats comes on the heels of the US Army Corps of Engineers warning protesters to leave by December 5th. Anyone remaining stay under fear of prosecution for trespassing. Fines have also thrown into the basket of incentives for the water protectors to surrender.
Establishing a blockade represents yet another ultra-militarized tactic used against peaceful American citizens. Denying nourishment and medical treatment is a classic strategy to degrade will and resolve. Combined with harsh weather conditions, water protectors are faced with a tormentingly deadly roulette.
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.
There may have been a snarling dog in the patrol truck in the play-Western “town” of the Lajitas Golf Resort, but it was an Indian dog, the deputy said. As for the man waving an American Indian Movement flag near the main offices of the multi-million-dollar resort shouting that its billionaire owner, Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, was a “criminal” and an “evil man”?
There are flames rising on the highway, erupting from the bowels of an overturned semi. Black, oily smoke roils into the sky. A bearded Jehovah cradles the driver in speckled clouds opposite that oily smoke.
It’s a “Truckload of Art,” a wood-and-paint creation of Marfa artist Camp Bosworth and ode to the Terry Allen song by the same name. Artworks are strewn along the highway. Troopers poke disinterestedly at one framed piece smoldering in the foreground.
It’s a bit of humor suddenly made menacing with the excavation work on the Trans-Pecos Pipeline of Energy Transfer Partners taking place a few miles to the west, an object of derision for roughly 200 people who marched from town Friday to rattle the construction fence during a Big Bend Stands with Standing Rock march in Alpine, Texas.
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.
On September 8, 2016, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called up the National Guard to the areas around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest/protection site “to support law enforcement, and augment public safety efforts.” This move was alluded to as a matter of not if, but when, from his Executive Order 2016-04 executed on August 16th.
Cody Hall, the media spokesperson for Red Warrior Camp, stated in a live streamed video to Facebook that the activation of the National Guard is “putting our lives in jeopardy” for expressing their rights, both Constitutional and civil. The North Dakota Governor’s announcement has come after video was taken showing the contracted security of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had pepper sprayed, as well as what appears to be personnel coaxing their dogs to bite protesters/protectors.