Native people fight to stop Dakota pipeline

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By KAREN SCHRAUFNAGEL

Karen Schraufnagel is the Socialist Action candidate for vice president of the United States in 2016.

The indigenous-led fight is heating up to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline that has been devastating sacred native burial grounds.

Resistance continues to grow at the Sacred Stone and Red Warrior camps, undeterred by mace and attack dogs. Thousands of indigenous brothers and sisters from tribes all across the country and their many allies are heeding the call to #DefendtheSacred and #KeepItInTheGround because #WaterIsLife.

This is a historic gathering up of the indigenous nations. Of the 566 federally recognized tribes, more than 150 have been represented in the camps and on the front lines fighting this pipeline. That means more than a quarter of the tribal nations in this country are in on this fight. As Lakota activist and Twin Cities resident Coya White Hat-Artichoker said when she visited the camp in early September: “They underestimate us. They don’t realize that the last time we came together like this, we killed Custer.”

On Sept. 2, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe filed an emergency motion in Federal Court. Dakota Access has repeatedly claimed the pipeline would not violate any sacred sites. A landowner (this particular parcel is not reservation land) and tribal experts filed discovery testimony to the judge deciding whether to grant an injunction against Dakota Access to halt construction.

The discovery testimony pinpointed the archeologically unique areas and sacred sites including grave markers. This should have been followed by an official survey by the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office after the Labor Day holiday weekend. Instead, immediately after the filing, bulldozers were at the site digging up the sacred land.

To get to the area, Dakota Access leapfrogged 15 miles from current construction, in a move clearly designed to short circuit injunctive relief. Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock tribal chair, stated: “Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites.”

“These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline will cross four states as it transports oil from the Bakken fields (in western North Dakota) to a distribution center in Illinois. The intended route includes passage under the Missouri River. When the pipeline leaks or spills into this vital waterway, the consequences will be catastrophic for every living thing. Fortunately for all of us, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe calls this area home, and have taken it upon themselves to protect our mother earth from her assailants.

In the lapdog capitalist press, the protectors of our land and water are described as “violent” while the profit-hungry, pollution-loving earth destroyers are simply “defending.”  But just who and what are the police and attack dogs “defending” in this showdown?

According to Bloomberg’s 2015 profile: “Kelcy Warren is Having Fun in the Oil Bust.” Warren, the founder of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, has amassed a $7.3 billion personal fortune. Like so many capitalists, his fortune seems to increase with disasters. His main residence is a 23,000 square foot home on 10 acres in Texas. In addition, he owns three ranches (one is over 11,000 acres) a house in Lake Tahoe, and an island off of Honduras; he has been meeting with the Hillary Clinton-installed president of Honduras about potential projects.

Bloomberg quotes Warren as acknowledging the converse relationship between his personal success and what is good for the rest of us: “the most wealth I’ve ever made is during the dark times.”

The idea that land needs to be protected is perceived as a threat. The idea that water needs to be protected is perceived as a threat. Profits are threatened by people’s right to breathable air and drinkable water. This is capitalism in the 21st century.

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