The Update on Sacred Stone Camp

As if there weren’t enough of the heavy topics that weigh on your everyday life, we’ve got another. Never let it be said that ignorance was better than being well-informed. In a recent statement, The Department of the Army and Interior put a halt to the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was the hope of many that this would, finally, after months of endless efforts, create an opportunity for an alternate, more environmentally friendly project. More importantly, that it would put an end to the violence that has been escalating at Sacred Stone Camp.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After moths of dedication, physical and emotional pain- the courage of Sacred Stone Camps’ water protectors prevailed. When the Department of the Army and Interior released their decision to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction, it posed as small progress. Small, but something.

On November 14, 2016:

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.  Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe…”

The statement goes on to admit the dire need for further discussion on the Dakota Access pipeline. The Army Corps recognizes the need for reform and respect. Especially for the beliefs and culture of those involved. The Army Corps moves to further acknowledge tribal input in discussions of treaty rights, protection of natural resources and tribal lands. (Read full statement here.)

Only time would tell if the statement would be acknowledged by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. Furthermore, if the efforts of the Department of the Army were sincere.  It didn’t take long to realize that the progress was limited to construction’s delay. The violence didn’t stop.

Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

In reality, for the water protectors of Sacred Stone Camp,  the violence is escalating. Claiming to use ‘non-lethal’ weapons has been the police forces’ stance from the beginning. Though, that doesn’t equate to non-dangerous or non-violent. Rubber bullets, tear gas, water hoses (in 30 degree weather) and pepper spray are just a few of the weapons water protectors are facing.

Various sources claimed that the water hoses were an effort to put out fires started by the protestors. The following video proves otherwise.

The video shows peaceful, unarmed protestors on a bridge near Sacred Stone Camp as they are drenched in freezing cold weather. There were no fires that can be seen a justification for the use of such methods. Shouts for medics and help can be heard in both this version and the longer Facebook Live feed. The images and audio are somewhat disturbing.

The U.S. Army Corps’ statement came with a sense of hope and relief. They encouraged the opinions of the community’s tribe members and the water protectors. It was the first real act of respect since construction of the 1,170-mile pipeline began. Unfortunately, the statement meant little to those affected by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. The statement did not to protect them from the increased police presence. Nor did the statement protect them from the increased violence of said law enforcement.

According to PBS News, the Energy Transfer Company spoke out against the Army Corp’s decision. They claimed the decision was unjust. A “sham process,” they complained. One which sent a “frightening message about the rule of law.” Though, nobody seems to understand the horror of injustice quite like the water protectors. The Energy company claims to be concerned about the people who are affected by the pipeline’s construction. Yet they give no regard to the well-being of those fighting to protect natural resources.

One thing is clear. Something has to be done to stop the violence.

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Dakota Access Pipeline: Here’s What You Need To Know

Dakota Access Pipeline: A well-kept secret threat on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Preservation

It all started back in July when the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the Dakota Access Pipeline, otherwise known as “DAPL”, a $4 billion pipeline that will stretch across four states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. In an attempt to halt the project’s construction, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe taken a stand against the construction and sued the US Army Corps. Their argument is that the massive pipeline would not only destroy the Tribe’s sacred sites, but threaten the environmental well-being of the Reservation’s inhabitants, as well as countless others across the 1,172-mile stretch. One spill, one mistake, could spell disaster for large number of people.

According to the BBC, the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline has encouraged the largest gathering of Native Americans in 100 years. The problem with this construction and its issues is that, most of it has flown under the radar of major news stations and most media outlets. It wasn’t until recently that the events at Sacred Stone Camp became more public as a private security company unleashed attack dogs on the protestors. According to The Associated Press, a tribe spokesman claimed that “…six people were injured by the dogs and at least another thirty were pepper-sprayed.”  With bloodshed, came a flood of attention to the enduring resistance of the activists.

One major network that has made headway on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the fight at Sacred Stone Camp is MSNBC. In the piece, “Rewrite: the Protests at Standing Rock,” Lawrence O’Donnell spits out some cold hard truth on the history of the colonization and genocide of America and the treatment of Native Americans. O’Donnell says, “After all of our major wars, we signed peace treaties and lived by those treaties. After World War II, when we made peace with Germany, we then did everything we possibly could to rebuild Germany. No Native American Tribe has ever been treated as well as we treated Germans after World War II.” The Dakota Access Pipeline is, arguably, another slap in the face to the indigenous people.

Source: MSNBC

Celebrities, too, have been showing their support for the cause and using their audience to spread awareness of the ongoing fight. Leonardo DiCaprio, who has also taken a strong stand on environmental issues like climate control, took to Twitter saying, “Inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux’s efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Actors and Actresses like Susan Sarandon, Rosario Dawson, and Shailene Woodley have been speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline over social media for months. What’s more, is that on August 24, 2016, Shailene Woodley and Susan Sarandon attended a rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Washington D.C. right outside the U.S. District Court. It was at this same rally, which ran 2,000 miles from North Dakota to Washington D.C., that provided a petition meant to stop the continued construction of the pipeline.

In more recent events, the protesters have made a small step in the right direction. In light of all their efforts, a recent ruling offered a temporary halt to the project’s construction, but only in certain areas of the pipeline. According to Democracy Now! “Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a temporary restraining order that halts construction only between Route 1806 and Lake Oahe, but still allows construction to continue west of this area. The ruling does not protect the land where, on Saturday, hundreds of Native Americans forced Dakota Access to halt construction, despite the company’s security forces attacking the crowd with dogs and pepper spray.” The victory, if it can be called that, has only spared them a short lapse in the continuous damage to their lands and it does not erase the damage already done.

So, what happens if the construction continues? What happens if, like many dangerous attempts to produce and transport oil in the United States, something goes wrong? Will we look back to this moment in time and regret not protecting that which we have often taken for granted, or will the economic benefits blind the majority to the possibly harmful side effects of greed? Want to join the cause? Show your support and sign the petition to help put an end to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Change.org

 

 

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