Standing Rock Protests

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Standing Rock standoff: How North Dakota’s native protest became an American movement

ANDREW CULLEN AND RUTHY MUNOZ


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A member of the Seven Council camp security team, Miah, directs traffic at an encampment on Sept. 7, 2016, where hundreds of protesters have gathered on the banks of the Cannon Ball River to stop construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.



A tribe’s efforts to halt construction of a North Dakota oil pipeline have swelled dramatically, bringing the support of movie stars and social media – and making a major oil company blink. On Friday, the federal government decided to pause construction on the pipeline after a federal judge refused the Sioux’s request to block it. Here’s how we got to this point.

The contentious pipeline

The 1,770 kilometre, $3.7-billion (U.S.) Dakota Access pipeline would carry oil from just north of the Standing Rock Sioux’s land in North Dakota to Illinois, where it would hook up to an existing pipeline and route crude directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast. The project is led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners through its Dakota Access subsidiary.

It was envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains – like the runaway train that exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in 2013, killing 47 people. ( Here’s a primer on why Bakken oil can be so dangerous to transport.)

Here’s how the route compares with another proposed pipeline through the Bakken formation, Keystone XL. (U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the Alberta-to-Nebraska Keystone pipeline last year, but Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he would revive the project if elected.)

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Who are the Standing Rock Sioux?

The Standing Rock Sioux reservation is one of six in the Dakotas that are all that remain of what was once the Great Sioux Reservation, which comprised all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River – including the Black Hills, which are considered sacred, according to the tribe’s website.

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Dave Archambault II is chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. ‘Our indigenous people have been warning for 500 years that the destruction of Mother Earth is going to come back and it’s going to harm us,’ he told Reuters. ‘Now our voices are getting louder.’



The tribe has 15,000 members in the United States including as many as 8,000 in North and South Dakota. The reservation covers about 24,087 square kilometres.

While the planned pipeline is near but not on tribal land, the Standing Rock Sioux say it runs through a sacred burial ground and could leak, polluting nearby rivers and poisoning their water source. They sued in July, alleging that the project violates several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act.

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A group from the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation in Mount Pleasant, Mich., wait to raise the reservation’s flag after entering a protest encampment on Sept. 7, 2016.



How the protests escalated

The project has been dogged by protests since April. Representatives of 200 tribes and environmentalists have set up camp in the hills near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in sight of the proposed pipeline route.

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Vandee Khalsa, left,Tatanka Skawin SwiftBird, middle, and Winona Kasto prepare a traditional buffalo soup for protesters.



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Protest signs in Cannon Ball, N.D., on Sept. 6, 2016.



Last month, celebrity activists joined about 100 members of the tribe outside a Washington, D.C., courthouse where hearings were being held, while others demonstrated in North Dakota.

The protests escalated into violence in early September after tribal officials said construction crews destroyed burial and cultural sites on private land. During a court hearing, Dakota Access accused the Standing Rock Sioux of inciting the pipeline’s opponents to break the law. Dakota Access said in its reply to a requested restraining order that the protesters “stampeded” the construction area and attacked the dogs and security officers with makeshift weapons, and that the bulldozers did not destroy important historical sites.

Enter the celebrity allies

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Jill Stein prepares to spray-paint ‘I approve this message’ in red paint on the blade of a bulldozer in the area of Morton County, N.D., on Sept. 6, 2016.



As the protests continued, celebrity supporters included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who authorities say is part of a group under investigation for illegally spray-painting construction equipment at the site. Ms. Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka were charged Wednesday with misdemeanour counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief, and authorities issued arrest warrants. Ms. Stein says she’s working with North Dakota authorities to arrange a court date for the charges.

Actress Susan Sarandon, who joined the Washington protest last month, said she was there to help publicize the tribe’s cause. “These kinds of things happen when people don’t have a voice,” Ms. Sarandon said, referring to the government’s decision to fast-track the project. “We have to give them a voice.”

The legal battle

On Sept. 6, U.S. Judge James Boasberg granted in part the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the project, and said he would decide by week’s end whether to grant the larger challenge to the pipeline, which would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – which fast-tracked construction of the pipeline earlier this year – to withdraw permits.

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Tusweca Mendoza, 10, of Arlington, Va., originally from Pine Ridge, S.D., holds up a sign outside U.S. District Court in Washington on Sept. 6, 2016.



On Sept. 9, Judge Boasberg rejected the Standing Rock Sioux’s demand for a court order blocking the project, saying he could not concur with their claims that the government erred in approving the pipeline. But then the Obama administration temporarily halted construction on federal land of the planned pipeline and asked Energy Transfer Partners to “voluntarily pause” nearby work. Many activists in Cannon Ball, N.D., touted the victory, but said its temporary nature meant they would not end their protests.

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A sage tie, which has spiritual significance for Native American Plains tribes, hangs at the Seven Council camp.



Idle No More redux?

The protest and lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux are not the first efforts by Native American and environmental groups to stop or reroute planned pipelines through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas. Aboriginal Canadian and Native American groups have opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, along with other pipeline projects.

The Standing Rock Sioux have hired a political campaign director to publicize their actions to stop the North Dakota pipeline. “They’ve been making really good use of social media as part of this and that has actually changed the way Native American activism takes place,” said Katherine Hayes, chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Some indigenous leaders in the United States are hoping that the North Dakota protests lead to a rebirth of Native American activism beyond the pipeline battle. “This is a new beginning, not just for our tribe, but for all tribes in this country,” said Standing Rock Sioux spokesman Ron His Horse is Thunder.

At campsites in North Dakota earlier this month, many people prepared for the long haul. Members of an Ojibwe tribe helped to erect lodges capable of withstanding North Dakota cold, and people from as far away as London and South Korea joined the protest, signing their names to a map at the campsite. “People are ready to stay through winter,” said Allyson Two Bears, who sits on the tribe’s emergency response team.

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Tepees stand in the Seven Council camp, one of three encampments that have grown on the banks of the Cannon Ball River over the last month.



Standing Rock standoff: How North Dakota’s native protest became an American movement - The Globe and Mail
 

Impera

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Is the timing a coincidence with everything happening on the political scene in the US right now?
 

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Willie Nelson & Neil Young standing in solidarity (wearing buffalo robes) with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
 

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Amy Goodman's arrest puts fierce spotlight on standoff at Standing Rock

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Monday was a cold, windy, autumnal day in North Dakota. We arrived outside the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan to produce a live broadcast of the Democracy Now! news hour. Originally, the location was dictated by the schedule imposed upon us by the local authorities; one of us (Amy) had been charged with criminal trespass for Democracy Now!'sreporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline company's violent attack on Native Americans who were attempting to block the destruction of sacred sites, including ancestral burial grounds, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Pipeline guards unleashed pepper spray and dogs on the land and water defenders. Democracy Now! video showed one of the attack dogs with blood dripping from its nose and mouth. The video went viral, attracting more than 14 million views on Facebook alone. Five days later, North Dakota issued the arrest warrant.

When responding to an arrest warrant, one must surrender to the jail by about 8 a.m. if one hopes to see a judge that day and avoid a night in jail. So we planned to broadcast live from 7 to 8 a.m., then head to the jail promptly at 8 a.m. to get processed through the jail and fight the trespass charge in court.

To our surprise, as we landed in Bismarck on Friday, we learned that the prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, had dropped the trespass charge, but filed a new one: "riot." We were stunned. In an email to both the prosecutor and our defence attorney, Tom ****son, Judge John Grinsteiner wrote, "The new complaints, affidavits, and summons are quite lengthy and I will review those for probable cause on Monday when I get back into the office." We were told by several lawyers familiar with North Dakota criminal law that judges almost never reject a prosecutor's complaint. The arraignment was set for 1:30 p.m. local time, Monday.

We spent the weekend reporting on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, with the threat of the riot charge never far from our minds. The 1,100-mile-long, $3.8-billion pipeline is designed to carry almost 500,000 barrels of crude oil from the fracking oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois, then onward to the Gulf of Mexico. That is why thousands of people have been at the resistance camps where the Dakota Access Pipeline is slated to cross under the Missouri River. If the pipeline leaks there, the fresh-water supply for millions of people downstream will be polluted.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier runs the jail in Mandan and is responsible for how people are processed there. As the protests have mounted during the past six months, Kirchmeier and the local prosecutors have been levelling more and more serious charges against the land and water protectors, with an increasing number of felony charges. More than 140 people have been arrested so far. Those we spoke to told us a shocking detail: When getting booked at the jail, they were all strip-searched, forced to "squat and cough" to demonstrate they had nothing hidden in their rectums, then were put in orange jumpsuits. The treatment was the same for Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dave Archambault, to a pediatrician from the reservation, Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, to actress Shailene Woodley, star of the films Divergent and Snowden, among others.

I asked Chairman Archambault if strip-searching was common for low-level misdemeanours. "I wouldn't know, because that was the first time I ever got arrested," he replied. Dr. Jumping Eagle remarked, "It made me think about my ancestors, and what they had gone through." Shailene Woodley told us, "Never did it cross my mind that while trying to protect clean water, trying to ensure a future where our children have access to an element essential for human survival, would I be strip-searched. I was just shocked."

As we prepared to enter the courthouse for the 1:30 p.m. arraignment on Monday, 200 people rallied in support of a free press, demanding the charges be dropped. A row of close to 60 riot police were lined up in a needless display of force in front of a peaceful gathering, threatening to arrest anyone who stepped off the curb. Then word came from our lawyer: The judge had refused to sign off on the riot charge. The case was dismissed, and we marked an important victory for a free press.

The free press should now focus a fierce spotlight on the standoff at Standing Rock -- a critical front in the global struggle to combat global warming and fight for climate justice. Indigenous people and their non-native allies are confronting corporate power, backed up by the state with an increasingly militarized police force. Attempts to criminalize nonviolent land and water defenders, humiliate them and arrest journalists should not pave the way for this pipeline.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,400 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan and David Goodman, of the newly published New York Times bestseller Democracy Now!: 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America. They are currently on a 100-city U.S. tour.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Amy Goodman's arrest puts fierce spotlight on standoff at Standing Rock | rabble.ca
 

Indie

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Is the timing a coincidence with everything happening on the political scene in the US right now?

I don't think so. Protests against such pipelines have been going on for a while now. Even in Canada.
 

Indie

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Exclusive Interview: Sky Bird Black Owl, first woman to give birth at the Standing Rock Protests.

 

Indie

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The Standing Rock pipeline fight is drawing hundreds to the North Dakota Plains in protest of a 1,172 mile oil pipeline.

 

HannaTheCrusader

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the white liberal k...ts instead of saving sacred Indian burials.they are pooping all over it
typical bloody liberals hahahahha

Native Americans: White Protesters ‘Colonizing’ And Pooping In Ground Of Oil Pipeline Protests Camp Site

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A woman washes dishes in the Oceti Sakowin camp in a snow storm during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith∧
All is not well among demonstrators at the Standing Rock protest camps a native American and former protester wrote on her FaceBook page Monday, The Washington Times reported.

Native Americans who want to protect their water from the oil of the Dakota Access Pipeline are complaining that white protesters’ behavior could be already tainting it.

“Need to get something off my chest that I witnessed and found very disturbing in my brief time there that I believe many others have started to speak up about as well. White people colonizing the camps,” Alicia Smith wrote in a November 14 post.

Charging that the white protesters from all over the country are treating the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline demonstration like a “Burning Man-style festival for hippies,” Smith said the non-locals are “coming in, taking food, clothing etc and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols.”



Read more: Native Americans: White Protesters Pooping At DAPL Protests | The Daily Caller
 
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