Interview from Standing Rock

“We’re going to fight and continue to fight…until the end”

October 31, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following are excerpts from an interview Revolution/ correspondents did with a woman and a man at Standing Rock who had just gotten out of jail.

XX: I’m here because this is where I had to be. I knew I had to be here because everything going on here is wrong. This should not be—that’s our water, that’s the water for the rest of our lives. That’s the sacred ground over there. This is sacred ground everywhere, and they’re destroying it. They’re ripping our hearts out, they’re destroying water for the rest of our lives. We may not have any if they continue this. Back in Pennsylvania, we fought fracking back there. We lost. They got to the border for New York, and thank god they stopped the fracking. But this has gotta stop. It’s gotta stop. And we need people to be here and to know the truth. Everything that’s gone on here is to intimidate and to tear down our spirit and they’re not going to win. We’re going to fight and continue to fight. We’re going to be here until the end. And the end is going to be victory.

YY: We need this victory. The earth needs this. We need this. Everybody needs this. I’m from Montana. I didn’t know what was happening—I kinda saw things happening on Facebook but I hate Facebook. So I thought to myself, technically I’m not there so I don’t know what’s going on. I’m only 10 hours away, I just got laid off. Two days, I was here and I just leaped into it. That night I went to bed, the next morning I woke up and they said we need people to do an action. I said, I have no idea what that is, but it didn’t stop me from coming here so I just jumped in a van…. 

XX: I traveled three days to stand up to this. The world needs to know what’s happening. And when I left back east, I talked to a relative. And when I said I was coming out here, she thought I was coming out for a vacation or something. The world doesn’t know what’s happening. A lot of this is not getting out, and it’s making it look like the people who are living here are some kind of fanatics or whatever. And that’s not the truth—they are trying to protect their livelihoods, their families, and everything that matters to them.

Revolution: Where’s the frontline? Is that the one they cleared the other day?

XX: Yeah. That’s where I was arrested, I went to jail. I was in a prayer circle. I was told by the officer who put his cuffs on my arms that if I didn’t resist or anything, I would just be charged with trespassing—we were in a prayer circle. And then of course, when we got to the jail, we were charged with three different charges, including terrorism by fire and all kinds of crazy stuff that I’m not guilty of.

YY: So here’s the charges—criminal conspiracy to endanger by fire, which is a C Class felony; public nuisance; and engaging in a riot, which was a misdemeanor. They charged everyone with this. I don’t know how many people were arrested.…

XX: I thought it was like 140. This is another nice thing—now we’re all marked. They wrote on all of us. They made us lie on concrete floors. When we went in, the first thing we faced is that they stripped us down to one layer, and that meant just jeans. If you had a t-shirt on, you were good, but if you didn’t have just a regular t-shirt… a lot of women were there with just their undergarments and a camisole. And the first thing you faced were two porta potties like we’re using here all the time if you needed to go. Then they herded us into these big wire cages that looked like dog kennels, only they were tall enough to stand in, and there were 20 some in each one of them. And then they left us in there, we were down on the floor.

A lot of the women were tired. It was getting late, they were tired, they were sleeping on the concrete floor.… And then they left us there. I think it was about 2 o’clock in the morning when we got upstairs, finally. And then, of course, all the women were patted down and checked up the bottom, not complete, but to make sure there’s nothing extra there. They just did “look”-cavity searches. And that was extremely traumatizing to a lot of the ladies. Because you don’t do that stuff, especially to indigenous ladies—that ‘s just unconscionable. Then you had to take everything off, you got an orange top and bottom. Some people got slippers or socks, some didn’t. Others got none—they were barefoot the whole time we were there.

They put you in beds. There were 12 of us, and there was only room for only 8 and there other four were sleeping on the floor on a mattress. You did get a sheet for the mattress, and you got a towel and a washcloth. In the morning they brought breakfast, and when they brought breakfast we had two paper cups for 12 people… We were sharing a roll of toilet paper between four or five cells. This cell had two or three ladies, and then you handed the paper over to the next cell—one roll. But, you know, it could have been worse, I’m sure. I didn’t get beaten or abused in that respect. But I did see some of that being done, but not severely, just like extra shoves and that kind of thing. I was in there Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I got out late last night.

Some of the ladies were extremely traumatized—that was a lot for some of the ladies. And especially when we started to read that we were getting felony charges for a prayer circle. We had nothing to do with starting a fire. But this is the way it was…

Oh, that’s another thing. I was under the impression that in this country you had a right to your Miranda rights, OK, you have the right to remain silent, etc. That was not given to us. Not that I’m aware of. Now, when we got into court, they said, do you understand all this stuff, but they still did not say “you have a right to remain silent” such and such—that was not how it was read at all. That was one thing. Plus, before we had any court proceedings, it was way over 24 hours. I asked several times about a phone call and never got a phone call…

Revolution: A lot of people tell us that the reason they are here is to protect the water. But a lot of other people are connecting this with the global problem, and I’m wondering if you have some thoughts on what’s going on here, how it’s connected to the larger world.

XX: This is going on in Massachusetts, it’s going on outside of the power plant in New York City. They’re doing all kind of stuff, the industry. They’re working against the people all over the place. I sat on the road to go into the upper camp with a man from the Carolinas, and they’re fighting this in the Carolinas. And we all know that a pipeline broke in Alabama and we know about the fact that the fertilizer plant put all the radioactive water into the aquifer in Florida. We know all this is happening, but everybody seems to keep their eyes closed. Or they turn away and ignore it and think, oh, well, it doesn’t pertain to me. It pertains to the world. It pertains to all of us. As we believe here, water is life and without that water, we’re all gone. Every plant, every bird, every animal, everything on this earth depends on that water.

Another thing we gotta keep in mind is that our fight here is also for the treaty rights for the indigenous people who owned and own the land, and they’ve been denied their rights for years and years. And here again, it’s happening. The government continues to take away the rights of the indigenous people, and we have to stand for the water and for their rights.

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