For nearly seven months, indigenous water protectors have been leading a heroic resistance to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Standing Rock occupation is a movement based on presence. In taking space and time away from Energy Transfer Partners, from the Army Corps of Engineers, from Morton County, from North Dakota, from the United States of America, Standing Rock has come to embody the largest show of resistance in the United States since at least the Ferguson riots of 2014.
Like Ferguson, and before it the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973, the place itself has become shorthand for the movement: say “Standing Rock” and what comes to mind is encampments, lock-downs, blockades, and stand-offs aimed at preventing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Missouri River.
A NEW HISTORY
The now sprawling encampment of thousands, capturing the attention of millions around the world, had a fairly modest beginning. The Sacred Stone Camp was set up on April 1 by youth of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation as a prayerful vigil to watch for the beginning of construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The tribe had already been involved in a lawsuit to prevent construction of the pipeline for close to two years.
This initial camp is located on the reservation itself, close to the intersection of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers. The meeting of the two rivers used to create a whirlpool, producing a uniquely shaped stone, from which the Sacred Stone Camp takes its name. The Army Corps of Engineers later altered the route of the river itself in the 1940s, flooding a portion of the reservation, destroying the whirlpool and the sacred stone with them. Throughout the spring and summer, the Sacred Stone Camp served both a site of constant prayer and as launching pad for a series of symbolic actions aimed at preventing the beginning of construction.
In late July, as the first signs of construction in the area became visible, the Standing Rock tribe formally invited the Oceti Sakowin — the seven council fires of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples — and in particular the warriors of the Oglala Lakota band from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to join them in their stand. Many came to Standing Rock with their extended families directly from their annual Sundance ceremonies, so had already been camping out for up to a month before arriving.
At this time, the Standing Rock tribe and the Oceti Sakowin also called on other native nations and non-native allies to join the encampment in solidarity. As supporters began flooding into Sacred Stone, the Rosebud Camp was started nearby, also on the reservation but right off of Highway 1806. As yet more people arrived, an “overflow” camp was then established on the other side of the Cannonball River, which soon became home to thousands, becoming the main Oceti Sakowin Camp. It is located off reservation, officially on Army Corps of Engineers land, and thus is an illegal occupation and a direct action in itself. This encampment has become a direct challenge to the numerous treaty violations that have limited the sovereignty of the Lakota people solely to their federally managed reservations.
At this point, direct actions became an almost daily occurrence, as water protectors would march the short distance from the Oceti Sakowin Camp to active construction sites and disrupt them. Using tactics inherited from the environmental movement, water protectors began performing “lockdowns” — locking or chaining themselves to construction equipment to prevent its use.
This summer witnessed a number of historic events. The Crows, as well as other indigenous nations who had been historic enemies of the Lakota, arrived in procession to offer peace and join together to fight the pipeline. Soon, close to 300 federally recognized tribes had sent delegations and formally declared solidarity. By the beginning of September, the occupation’s population reached a high point of around 5,000 people.
It was at this point that mounting tensions came to a head, thrusting Standing Rock into the national media spotlight. DAPL began hiring a private security firm to stand guard over the construction sites and prevent disruption. As the long-standing lawsuit finally neared a court decision, the Standing Rock tribe filed documentation of archeological sites, including ancestral burial grounds, that existed along the proposed pipeline route. The next day, September 3, construction workers bulldozed an ancient burial ground described in those court documents.
Source: ROAR Magazine read more!
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