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”

February 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

Seventy seven people were arrested last week in a vicious and unjustified government assault upon the Water Protectors defending the Standing Rock Sioux from the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL). Among those arrested was Chase Iron Eyes, who has been charged with “inciting to riot” and faces up to five years in prison.

DAPL threatens the very existence of the Standing Rock Sioux. 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. Now the fascist Trump-Pence regime has given a go-ahead to proceed with construction of DAPL. This political battle, in which the lines between right and wrong, between just and unjust, between defending or attacking the people and the planet itself are so clearly drawn, is likely coming to a head on February 22. All charges against Chase Iron Eyes and others arrested Water Protectors must be dropped!

This interview with Chase Iron Eyes, who is one of the initiators of Refuse Fascism, was done by Carl Dix on behalf of Revolution.


Carl Dix: Hello Chase. So, how you doing?

Chase Iron Eyes: OK.

Carl Dix: Did you end up being held for a couple of days?

Chase Iron Eyes: Yeah, for two days.

Carl Dix: Yes, what I wanted to start with is, look, Trump greenlighted DAPL.

Chase Iron Eyes: Right.

Carl Dix: What are your thoughts about that? What was it that people did, and then what happened on Wednesday, when people took a stand around it? Let’s start with that.

Chase Iron Eyes: Yes, well, Trump gave a directive to the Department of the Army, the Army Corps of Engineers, to go ahead and greenlight them to drill under the river. And he’s also indicated that he would like to withdraw or dismantle whatever progress has been made on EIS, the Environmental Impact Statement. And it’s clear that Trump is representing the interests of the corporate state. Indeed, what was known all along to be fascism, in its truly modern form.

And Standing Rock is going to be one of the epicenters, as every airport was, during the Muslim ban, as probably another Indian reservation will be, when they try to build the wall. There are some Native nations that are going to say, no, you’re not going to build a wall here.

And with my arrest—seventy seven people were arrested—and I was charged, me and another woman were charged with inciting a riot, a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. I think it’s obviously an effort to neutralize, discredit, and criminalize who they see as a leader in this movement, this NO DAPL movement which is now a significant struggle against the interests of the corporate state, against brutalization and the systemic, long standing violations of constitutional rights, and corporate violence against unarmed American citizens. Against Native nationals. What we’re going to witness is, this is going to be the first showdown, the first real showdown, where armed troops are going to be deployed. They’ll come in with less lethal troops first, but there will be armed troops there. It’s highly, highly militarized. You’ve been there yourself, when they raided that new camp.

Carl Dix: Yeah

Chase Iron Eyes: This is what the next four years look like. I mean, we are in a state of uncertainty. This is the corporate state, and the fascist state, made real. Made very… I mean, it’s no longer in the realm of academia. People can talk about the differences between fascism, and tyranny, and totalitarianism, democracy, and all of that talk. I mean this is happening in real life. There are human beings that are suffering because of the policies of Donald Trump.

Carl Dix: Exactly. I want to go to something else, but before I go—they charged you with inciting to riot. Was there any rioting?

Chase Iron Eyes: There was absolutely no rioting. But what’s concerning me is not… North Dakota passed a law—rioting, according to their definition, is encouraging five or more people to riot, or engage in tumultuous or violent behavior with a group of a hundred of more people. So it’s not clear, the legal definition of what that law means. We intend to fight it all the way. We know what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to make an example out of me, so somebody who’s considered a leading voice in this fight ... they’re going to try very hard to send me back to prison. I mean, I’ve been in prison before. But they’re trying to send me back, right now, and it’s weighing heavy on my mind.

But I know that our cause is righteous, and I know that we don’t have any time. The whole country is going to have to do this. The whole country is going to have to stand up and take risks. Possibly place their bodies in front of those who would inflict violence, or discrimination, or de-humanization, or violate our constitutional or civil or human rights. This is that time.

Carl Dix: You’re hitting some very important points.

Chase Iron Eyes: When we talk about the Founding Fathers, and what they stood up for, “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,” the “truths that we hold to be self evident,” we call them patriots. And now, in 2017, those who are standing up for our precious water resources, our natural resources, our land, the true source of our national security, our wealth. We are the true patriots, yet we are being called “eco-terrorists.” We are being called traitors, and the people, the corporations who are extracting our natural resources, our mineral resources, and putting our water security at risk, for their private profit benefit in order to sell these resources to foreign nations which are unfriendly to the United States, they are being called American. They call us unpatriotic, and we have to think very hard and look at what that means for America in 2017.

America is messy. It’s controverted. I mean, we have issues. Deep seated issues of genocide, of holocaust, slavery, of dehumanization. And we’re having to take a look at... what does that mean for us. A Trump presidency with a Republican controlled Congress, continuing to encroach on those rights that a lot of our people, our demographics, have fought and died for.

You know we’re talking about whether it’s Black Lives Matter, the feminist movement, the entirety of the peace loving Muslim faith, the immigrants, some of whom are actually original owners of this hemisphere who are declared illegal human beings, who have to put up with a wall... a $23 million wall being put up. I mean, Steve Bannon is on the National Security Council. So we’ve got... I mean this is just one of the fights.

Carl Dix: He is a stone-cold fascist, You name it and he embraces it.

I know we don’t have much time so let’s get to two more things. One is you were at one time banned from Facebook. Do you want to talk about that?

Chase Iron Eyes: Yeah. I posted a tweet about the nature of what the Trump presidency represents. And, that it is going to be a war on our rights, on our project and that we have to meet those threats to our very democracy on the battlefield. And what I meant by that is that you know we are in a different time where unarmed revolution and non-violent action—peace and prayers, if you wanna call it that—that’s our strength. I am facing five years in prison now. But we have to be smarter than the enemy. The enemy is... the enemy isn’t the white man. The enemy is the set of institutions that dehumanizes us, that is big finance, big extractions, and the military industrial complex, the set of colonial forces that separated all human beings from a relationship with their food source, for instance, or with any kind of relationship with the land. As human beings, that is our natural inclination to seek a relationship with our natural universe, and to seek a spiritual liberation. And we... this world is a big… it’s just huge, and it’s hard to be calm and to seek that liberation. Anybody who’s spent time camping or any time outdoors, or if they’ve ever fasted, there’s certain things that are common to a lot of cultures in the world. That’s sort of the bigger picture. But rightfully so, we get tied up in these very visceral and brutal injustices that we know stem from racism and white supremacy.

Carl Dix: So your being banned from Facebook… that was only temporary, you’re back on now?

Chase Iron Eyes: Yeah, I’m back on now. It took me 16 hours to get back on and an article in BuzzFeed, and they put me back on.

Carl Dix: So a final question for the interview: 77 of you all are facing charges and some of you are facing pretty serious and trumped up charges. A lot of people who get this interview and are gonna be reading this, are very supportive of the Standing Rock struggle. Is there something that you want to call on them to do?

Chase Iron Eyes: Yes, I think we all need to be ready… if you can come to Standing Rock we will welcome you and we will accommodate you. February 22 is the date that the Army Corps set to evacuate forcibly. They didn’t use those terms but they are declaring that the camps need to be evacuated on February 22.

February 22nd. So that’s gonna be a day of reckoning for everybody there. If you can’t come we are going to call for some sort of direct action across the country in support of the people who are on the front line there, who may face an armed state.

Carl Dix: OK, so February 22 is the day, be in Standing Rock, and if you can’t get to Standing Rock, be standing with Standing Rock wherever you are.

So I think that’s it for the interview.


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