By MARTY GOODMAN
On his fifth day in office, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Army Core of engineers to restart digging the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on sacred Sioux land, in violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The camp, known as Standing Rock, near Cannonball, N.D., was officially closed on Feb. 22 on order of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.
Standing Rock had become the flashpoint for unprecedented mass mobilization of Native Americans, thousands of solidarity activists and a worldwide outcry against corporate greed, racism and the bitter U.S. legacy of genocide. Many activists came from the struggle against the XL Keystone Pipeline, stretching from Canada to the Gulf Coast, halted in 2015 but set to restart under Trump.
Since last August, some 700 “Water Protectors” were arrested, shot with beanbags, tear-gassed, clubbed, sprayed with ice-cold water in freezing temperatures, and attacked by dogs unleashed by private security goons.
Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux, described the militarized police and National Guard that descended on the camp in February as “a violent enforcer of the will of capital. The corporate state is here: an oil war in the heartland.”
The army of occupation arrived in Humvees and armored personnel carriers, pointing automatic rifles at peaceful water protectors, insuring capitalist profits with the installation of the hazard-prone fossil-fuel pipelines.
Said another camp resident, “This is Treaty land. This is our life. This is how we live as Native people and nothing has changed. It’s just gotten worse. They have bigger weapons to kill us with. And here we are, unarmed, facing an army in our own land.” Forty-one percent of Native Americans live in poverty, and 24% are unemployed.
The evacuation also targeted independent journalists like Jenni Monet, who said on livestream that cops were literally “chasing down journalists. I can’t believe this is happening!”
The governor blamed oncoming spring floods for the evacuation. However, Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network claims the flood warnings were a “false flag” since flood predictions were officially downgraded. Outraged, Braun insisted that the 1851 U.S. Treaty guarantees “the free, prior, informed consent” is a constitutional right—a right violated at Standing Rock.
Many who were expelled from the camp sought refuge in nearby Native American camps. Teepees and structures at Standing Rock were set ablaze by water protectors who refused to allow the desecration of sacred objects, and to deprive the enemy of a perceived victory. Some 50 water protectors who remained were arrested.
On March 7, Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied legal challenges by Native American tribes to halt construction of the final link in the 1170-mile-long pipeline. DAPL funder Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) says oil will be flowing at Standing Rock later in the month.
Trump is invested in Energy Transfer Partners for up to $1 million, although he’s claimed to have dis-invested. Trump received campaign contributions from ETP head Kelsey Warren, including $100,000 to the Trump victory fund. Amazingly, Trump denies receiving any messages against DAPL.
The groundwork for DAPL and other pipelines was facilitated by the Obama administration. When asked about Standing Rock in 2015, Obama said he would let the situation “play out,” despite ongoing brutality. Only after a mass mobilization of Native Americans and an early December solidarity mobilization of 3000 U.S. veterans at Standing Rock did Obama respond. Fearing an election year blowback if veterans were seen being beaten by cops on TV, Obama issued a Dec. 4 executive order to delay, not cancel, digging under the Missouri River’s Oahe Lake, a source of water for the Sioux and some 18 million others.
Pipeline struggles have erupted across the country, including in Texas, Florida, and against the Spectra pipelines in the Northeast. A DAPL divestment campaign is growing.
On March 10, the Standing Rock and Native Nations will lead a march of activists in Washington, D.C. The protest is organized by the Native Nations Rise Planning Committee and will march from the Mall to the White House beginning at 10 a.m.
Check the addresses below for more information: Facebook NoDapl, Stand With Standing Rock, Labor for Standing Rock, Defunddapl, ResistSpectra, Indian Ministry.
Photo: Veterans for Standing Rock #NoDAPL