The situation around the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, which has been largely glossed over by much of mainstream US news media, appears to be disturbingly and dramatically indicative of the true dynamic – between citizenry on one hand and law-enforcement and state powers on the other.
Specifically what happens when the giant corporations (i.e: the real ‘government’) see their enterprises threatened by human rights and pesky native peoples.
When thousands of Native American citizens, joined by other indigenous peoples and a number of activists from different parts of the country, camped in North Dakota to show support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their ‘water protectors’, they have been met by a highly militarised contingency, including tanks and a no-fly zone.
The people, protesting in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, tried to block access by the construction teams and were met with an excessive response. The police response to what was basically an unarmed group of people was apparently so excessive that even some people in favor of the construction project have expressed their disapproval on Twitter and social media.
There have been over 140 arrests, reportedly, and dozens of people being injured. Some protesters were reportedly shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with mace, and kept in dog kennels.
As Claire Bernish reports, the indigenous community and their fellow protesters – including women and children – have also been met with mercenaries and vicious attack dogs from the private security firm guarding the construction project. The private security firm has been operating alongside state and county police and the New Mexico National Guard.
This brief on-the-ground report (see video above) by Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network (I.E.N.) to Thom Hartmann’s programme captures the tone and distressing nature of the operation, in which state-sponsored intimidation and violence appears to be being used against the population of the land for the sake of a corporation.
The pipeline, intended to run under the Missouri River, is seen as a serious threat to the Standing Rock Reservation’s water supply, as well as for the safety of the drinking water supply for around 18 million people who could be adversely affected by the pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation supervising the project, apparently has a terrible safety record involving leaks and spills. The Standing Rock Sioux are not only concerned about the risk to the water supply, but are against the violation of sacred land and have also filed court documents pertaining to sites of cultural and historic value being situated in the planned path of the pipeline.
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had already – a month ago – called on the United States to immediately halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in recognition of dire and direct threats to the drinking water, burial grounds and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux people.
The mainstream media in the US has mostly neglected these events where possible, while the the Hillary Clinton camp has declined to comment on the matter and Donald Trump, it turns out, is an investor in the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.
However, Bernie Sanders has joined the protest in calling for the pipeline to be halted and there is still strong expectation that President Obama may do so.
But, essentially, what plays out in North Dakota is an illustration of the corrupted dynamic that presently exists between the people in a land – and not just Native Americans or an indigenous community, but really any occupants of any area of land anywhere in America – and massive energy companies or corporate interests.
If the question is ‘Who’s Side Does the State or the Government Take – the Corporate Interest or the People?’, then really everyone should be watching what transpires very closely with the Standing Rock Sioux to see the answer.
And, although the issue never once came up in three Presidential Debates or any of either candidates’ speeches and campaigning, the Standing Rock Sioux and the many protesters who’ve stood in solidarity with them have essentially been attacked and suppressed by over-militarised forces funded by American tax-payers and for the sake of Oil Barons and corporations.
A petition to ask President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline can be signed here.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also has a PayPal fund, through which donations can help with emergency and sanitation needs, food supply, legal costs and other necessities.
There is also a Go Fund Me page, for the same purposes here.
Sadly many Native American Tribes in the US are just beginning to emerge as self-governing autonomous entities and their tribal governments lack of expertise and knowhow for complicated procedures which often makes them victims to outside groups that would exploit them. Also, in many cases when smaller tribes begin to form a structured government they are often divided by progressive vs regressive conflicts. The net result of which is that tribal councils are often divided and struggle to make consistent decisions to the greater benefit of their voting tribe members. To avoid this, smaller tribes rely on larger “mentor tribes” taking them under their wing to train them and send them down prosperous paths, but when those mentors dont exist, then they easily fall prey to the white man.
I personally know a person who recently inherited some Dakota Sioux lands and the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA [which manages all US tribal lands in a trust]) immediately made a low-ball cash offer to the new owners to snatch the tract of real estate. The BIA seems to be very agressively controlling Dakotan swaths and no pipeline or any other encroachment into tribal lands can occur without their consent… unfortunately as this case demonstrates, Washington is really the one running the BIA show and the tribes dont always get to say what happens (or doesn’t happen) on their land.
Very interesting, thanks for the insight.
I am thinking over their resistances. There are so many things to say. I have to ask some questions and give answer for explaining.
Q-Why the Native American citizens didn’t prepare enough to this resistance?
A-There have been many resistances on the planet and still it is, they could have studied what the people on Earth made against the police or govt forces; like wearing gas masks or using ultrasonic dog repeller devices.
Q- On the RT video, the witness says that people (the resistors) are singing, drumming and praying. Really? What would they expect at there?
A- It is obvious, USA is the first country which has evolved to become a police state on the planet. They should have known that US’s police or govt forces were going to use almost every vilolance tools on the resistors. This resistance would not be with singing or praying. Even if while Palestinians are using the gas masks which they made from plastic bottles by cutting upper side, kind of home made gas masks against Israel forces, in USA they should have prepared more. Also, I know this is an emotional situation for Native American people. But they should know that the police and the military forces of the government have put their feeling aside.
Q-To protect of their sacred places is their natural rights. I know that they did many things for hearing of their voice by world public. Even one of Native American Indian Chief had talked in UN in Brussels last month(if I am not mistaken it was last month). And I had read this news as “wow, if they go to the UN, they will do anything for protecting!” And now, I am seeing a petition to sign was opened to President Obama(!), and the fund which can be send money help. Do they really expect the some things from Obama? And, do they really think that to make a petition will help to draw the attention of the public?
A-First they have to give a name for this resistance. This is what I want to say in here: If this is a resistance against the massive energy companies who are cooperating with government of US, to create a petition to ask for president of government, shows this resistance as weak! Besides the people have to know that the petitions via internet are usefull for satisfy themselves and the people do nothing to act. It is also the capitalist elites wanted. They want that people don’t act and the people think “I am helping with clicking”. This is kind of trap and majority of people live with comfort of this thought by relaxing themselves.
Why I wrote these? Because if people want to a resistance which is stable and will give right results, it has to be a scope. Within this scope, the results of the resistance become clear, even maybe from the begining. And there is no place a petition for a president into a stable resistance.
Also, I have to say, I feel deeply empathy and respect for Native American people’s culture. When they are hurt I am feeling almost same anger and sadness with them. Their culture is one of the values which the people on Earth have to protect and transmit to the next generations.
On the other side my Earthling friend, the people on Earth have to know that almost every government is preparing to be full police state. If they ignore what the Native American people lived through; maybe not today or not tomorrow but eventually the day will come for every one.
I agree – we’re all going towards police/military state.
In terms of them needing more scope in their ‘resistance’, I understand what you mean: but they probably think it would make their situation worse. If they took up arms or tried to form a proper ‘rebellion’ with other tribes and groups, the state and government will just crush them easily.
I imagine that, in their minds, they are attempting the Gandhi model of non-violent non-cooperation. And hoping that, by making a stand – but being peaceful – would draw great attention to the situation in the media and would win them lots of support, perhaps pressuring Obama to intervene on their side.
Yes, they probably thought like you said. And I hope they would achieve what they wanted.
Should be angry, outrageous, and, got the taser out on the lawyer – PC Roberts covered – on; ‘Jury Rejects Federal Case Against Malheur Wildlife Refuge Defandants’. More hustle. Top piece on Sioux our friends, and yes, we must keep on watching. Keep on, keep on. We ought-er cause havoc. Bless you bother. And James R and me – with you. Let’s cause some righteous mayhem. War and peace.
Righteous mayhem is pending.