Critical Juncture at Standing Rock:
#NoDAPL! Stand with the Water Protectors
Updated February 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
URGENT Message from Standing Rock as Police Surround Their Camp
Video sent to Shaun King from Standing Rock on February 21, 2017.
URGENT.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 21, 2017
My friends in Standing Rock just sent this to me & asked me to share it. They are surrounded by militarized police RIGHT NOW. pic.twitter.com/plR0Tfaagc
A critical moment is looming in the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which threatens the lands, treaty rights, cultures, and the very existence of the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes, and Earth’s environment itself. A heroic battle by the Standing Rock Sioux, some 200 other Native American peoples, and many thousands of others has blocked completion of DAPL for nearly a year. Now, the State of North Dakota has joined the Army Corps of Engineers in demanding that the main protest camp—Oceti Sakowin—be evacuated by February 22 or people will face possible arrest.
The State of North Dakota has joined with the Army Corps of Engineers to demand the main DAPL protest camp be shut down by February 22. Photo: Special to revcom.us
These dangerous developments come in the wake of the Trump/Pence fascist regime taking power and quickly stepping up the government’s assault on resisters at Standing Rock—and on all who support them. Four days after Trump’s inauguration, he signed an executive order demanding the Army Corps of Engineers accelerate its review and approval of the pipeline’s construction. Little more than a week later, the Corps dropped its promised environmental impact study of the pipeline and instead granted an easement to Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate building the pipeline, to finish it. This easement allows construction of one of the sections of DAPL which most directly threatens the Standing Rock Sioux and the environment: the 1.25-mile section under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River, just north of the current boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation (and through lands and waters granted to the Sioux nation under an 1851 treaty).
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum claimed the state had issued the order to evacuate Oceti Sakowin camp because rising floodwaters could endanger people there and threaten to contaminate the waters of the Missouri because of debris and waste supposedly left in the camp. The order, the governor stated, was being issued “out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River.”
This outrageous statement twists truth beyond recognition. First, while this camp is on Army Corps of Engineers land, that land was granted to the Sioux by treaty in 1851 and subsequently stolen by the U.S. government.
Second, since January, as the snow has melted, the Standing Rock Sioux and other resisters have been cleaning up the Oceti Sakowin camp in anticipation of possible flooding, and they’ve reportedly made substantial progress and are calling for volunteers to help in the process—not for violent government assaults.
Third, and most important: What is the real environmental danger? It’s the nearly 1,200-mile-long DAPL, scheduled to carry 470,000 barrels of Earth-killing oil a day—not the protest camp! Climate change-denying, fossil-fuel-fixated ghouls like Governor Burgum have no right to invoke environmental dangers to attack those who are defending the environment!
Pipeline leaks would threaten the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux, and the 27 tribes and 18 million people downriver who depend on water from the Missouri. And despite Energy Transfer Partners’ assurances about the pipeline it’s building, pipeline leaks are frequent. (Indian Country Today Media Network notes there have been numerous recent pipeline spills “including the release of 80,000 gallons of oil near Tioga, North Dakota, in October 2013; 51,000 gallons of oil released into the Yellowstone River upstream from Glendive, Montana; as well as the release of 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010.”)
Ominous Attacks on Water Protectors
Over the past year, government authorities at the federal, state, and local levels—as well as local vigilantes—have launched relentless and utterly illegitimate attacks upon people rightfully and courageously defending their rights, and their water, making some 700 arrests. On February 1, over 70 water protectors were arrested in a vicious and unjustified government assault. One leader in the Standing Rock resistance, Chase Iron Eyes, was charged with “inciting to riot” and now faces up to five years in prison. (See Revolution Interview with Chase Iron Eyes—“On the Battle at Standing Rock and Resisting Trump: ‘The whole country is going to have to stand up and take risks.’”)
Now these assaults are intensifying, not just aimed at completing the pipeline, but also breaking the powerful resistance that has emerged at Standing Rock against the crimes this system is carrying out against Native peoples, and the accelerating climate crisis, driven in large part by the burning of the fossil fuels DAPL will be carrying. This resistance has resonated with and inspired millions across the U.S. and globally.
New bills are being introduced and debated in the North Dakota legislature to increase criminal penalties against those who refuse to leave the protest camp or continue to resist DAPL. Journalists have been targeted, arrested, in some cases strip-searched, and hit with serious charges simply for covering the resistance. There are reports that militarized police are being positioned on high ground near the camp.
The executive vice president of Energy Transfer Partners recently called water protectors “terrorists.” “Had these actions been undertaken by foreign nationals, they could only be described as acts of terrorism,” he claimed. Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux, responded: “from what I have seen, Morton County is the terrorist,” saying that he’s been shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed by police simply for protesting the pipeline.
Ominously, the Guardian (February 10) reported that an FBI anti-terrorism task force was investigating Standing Rock activists and that at least six face serious federal charges. On February 18, the Guardian said that “Demonstrators at the anti-pipeline camps in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, now fear that the US justice department’s recent round of arrests and warrants is the beginning of an aggressive prosecution effort by Donald Trump’s administration.”
Water Protectors Vow to Continue the Battle
Hundreds of resisters are still at Standing Rock, new encampments are being set up, and many are vowing to stay and continue the fight. Others, including military veterans, are returning to defend the water protectors.
People at Standing Rock have called for nationwide actions in support of their struggle. There have already been a number of important actions, including demonstrations, benefit concerts, and other events. On February 5, for example, thousands of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to say NO! to DAPL and to support Standing Rock. The protest was organized in response to Trump’s executive order to fast-track DAPL and the Keystone XL pipeline.
This call from the resisters at Standing Rock needs to be taken up even more broadly, urgently, and energetically. The battle at Standing Rock is a key battle against oppression and environmental destruction. And as Revolution has written, “it is urgent that this important struggle be part of the defining struggle to STOP the fascist regime of Trump/Pence before it consolidates its power.”
Stay tuned to revcom.us for coverage and analysis of this critical battle.
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