Memory, Fire and Hope: Five Lessons from Standing Rock

“The ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin,” writes Ladha. (Photo: Stephen Yang/Getty Images)

The North Dakota camp may have been evicted but the movement hasn’t lost. Here are five lessons activists around the world can learn from the water protectors.

by Alnoor Ladha | Common Dreams, March 08, 2017

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” —Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Last week, on February 22, 2017, water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the primary camp of Standing Rock, were evicted by the Army Corps of Engineers in a military style takeover. A peaceful resistance that began with a sacred fire lit on April 1, 2016, ended in a blaze as some of the protectors, in a final act of defiance, set some of the camp’s structures on fire.

“The neoliberal capitalist system has failed the majority of humanity and a new world is emerging.”

The millions of people around the world who have stood in solidarity and empathy with Standing Rock now stand in disbelief and grief, but the forced closure of the encampment is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonization against the First Nations. It is also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world.

Of course, the ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin. We should take this opportunity to remember the enduring lessons of this movement, and prepare ourselves for what is to come next.

1. There is a global convergence of movements

When I visited Standing Rock in October 2016, it struck me that this was the most diverse political gathering I’d ever seen. Over 300 North American tribes had came together for the first time in history. Standing alongside them were over 100 Indigenous communities from all over the globe. A contingent from the Sami people, the Indigenous peoples of Scandinavia, had traversed the Atlantic to show their support the day I arrived. They were joined by black bloc anarchists, New Age spiritualists, traditional environmentalists, union organizers and ordinary Americans who have never attended a protest.

The media has characterized Standing Rock as a one-off protest against a pipeline in North Dakota. But the reality is that the various movements from around the world including the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, the Pink Tide in Latin America, the landless people’s movement from India, the anti-austerity movement in Europe, the global Occupy movement, and the countless awakenings” spreading across the African continent are uniting as expressions of the same impulse: a belief that the neoliberal capitalist system has failed the majority of humanity and a new world is emerging.

2. A more holistic activism is emerging

With its sacred fire, daily prayers and water ceremonies, Standing Rock has helped to reanimate the sacred aspect of activism. We are seeing a shift from resistance to resistance and renewal simultaneously. Progressive movements which once internalized the Neitzchean dictum that “God is dead” are now evolving their positions. As the anarchist philosopher Hakim Bey states: “As Capital triumphs over the Social as against all spiritualities, spirituality itself finds itself realigned with revolution.”There is a shift to embracing a more holistic activism that transcends traditional Cartesian duality and calls upon greater forces. Cedric Goodhouse, an elder at Standing Rock put it simply, saying: “We are governed by prayer.”

“The particular ways in which Standing Rock embodied non-violent direct action has given many activists a new faith in the possibility of a more sacred activism.”

The particular ways in which Standing Rock embodied non-violent direct action has given many activists a new faith in the possibility of a more sacred activism. I stood with dozens of water protectors when they prayed on water in front of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) engineers while they were laying down oil pipeline. The very act of seeing Indigenous elders praying on water said more about the implications of an extractive pipeline than any linear argument. They dropped their tools not only because they wanted to avoid confrontation, but because somehow they understood they were on the wrong side of the moral calculus.

The author Charles Eisenstein reminds us of a powerful insight about sacred activism that has been embodied in Standing Rock: “We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate ‘the deplorables.’ We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: ‘Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.’ If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.”

3. Occupation of space is a critical tactic

Even before Occupy there has been a renaissance in the political understanding of the value of place and space. The battlegrounds between the corporate/state nexus and people’s movements are physical realms: the places where resources are being extracted, water is being polluted and capitalist interests are expanding through what Marxist geographer, David Harvey, calls “accumulation by dispossession.”

The occupation of space creates a physical spectacle that forces the corporate media to tell the stories it would otherwise like to ignore. It creates networks of solidarity and deep relationships that span beyond the time and space of the occupation. It creates inter-generational transfers-of-knowledge, both politically and spiritually. It weaves the connective tissue for the continued resistance against corporate (and other imperialist) power.

Standing Rock will be remembered by the thousands of activists who braved blizzards to sleep in tipis, who cooked food together in the communal kitchens, and celebrated in song and ceremony with tribal elders around the sacred fire. As the activist Reverend Billy Talen recently stated: “Zuccotti Park and the stretch of sidewalk in front of the Ferguson police department and the meadow near the Sacred Stone… these three places are lived in. Here is where activists cared for each other and shared food, clothing and medicine. The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight.”

4. We are Nature protecting itself

Part of the on-going colonial legacy of North America is a battle between the mute materialism of capitalism that seeks to dominate nature and the symbiotic approach of Indigenous thought that sees Nature as alive, and sees human beings as playing a central role in the evolution and stewardship of the broader whole. It is this very worldview that rationalists derisively call “animist” and that continues to confound the utility maximization ideals of modern thought.

Indigenous lands are increasingly going to be a battleground not only for resource extraction, but ideology itself. Although Indigenous peoples represent about 4% of the world’s population they live on and protect 22% of the Earth’s surface. Critically, the land inhabited by Indigenous peoples holds the remaining 80% of the planet’s biodiversity.

“The idea that we are not protestors, but protectors of the sacred is a central theme that resonates throughout the world.”

It is no coincidence that ETP moved away from its early proposal to have the DAPL project cross the Missouri river just north of Bismarck, a primarily white city, to the Standing Rock area inhabited by the Sioux tribe.

During COP 21 in Paris, Indigenous youth groups carried banners that read: “We are Nature protecting itself.” The idea that we are not protestors, but protectors of the sacred is a central theme that resonates throughout the world.

In a powerful article on the Sacred Stone blog, the camp’s founder Ladonna Bravebull Allard said: “This movement is not just about a pipeline. We are not fighting for a reroute, or a better process in the white man’s courts. We are fighting for our rights as the Indigenous peoples of this land; we are fighting for our liberation, and the liberation of Unci Maka, Mother Earth. We want every last oil and gas pipe removed from her body. We want healing. We want clean water. We want to determine our own future.”

These ideals are not just Indigenous ideals; they are ideals linked with our very survival as a species. In a world of catastrophic climate change, protecting the sacred must be the mantra of all activists and concerned citizens.

5. There is a common antagonist

Although the various social movements around the world are portrayed as separate incidents that are particular to their local context, there is a growing awareness among movements themselves that we are uniting against the same antagonist: the deadly logic of late-stage capitalism.

Whether one is fighting for land rights in India or tax justice in Kenya or to stop a pipeline in the US, the ‘enemy’ is the same: a cannibalistic global economy that requires perpetual extraction, violence, oppression, in the service of GDP growth, which in turn, benefits a tiny elite at the expense of the world’s majority.

“The sacred fire at Standing Rock may now be smoldering but it’s reverberations are only beginning to be felt.”

There is a Algonquin word, wetiko, that refers to a cannibalistic spirit that consumes the heart of man. It was a common term used when the First Nations of North America initially interacted with the Western European colonialists. The spirit of wetiko, like many memetic thought-forms, has mutated and evolved, and has now become the animating force of the global capitalist system. We are not just fighting a pipeline; we are fighting the wetiko spirit that has taken hold of our planet like invisible architecture.

What Standing Rock achieved so beautifully was to provide this broader context, to ladder up a local struggle for clean water to the struggle against the forces of wetiko itself. Wetiko is inherently anti-life. And what we are all fighting for is a new system that recognizes our interdependence with the Earth and with each other, and that allows our highest selves to flourish.

The sacred fire at Standing Rock may now be smoldering but it’s reverberations are only beginning to be felt. As Julian Brave NoiseCat poignantly states in his reflections on the impact of this historical movement: “They have lit a fire on the prairie in the heart of America as a symbol of their resistance, a movement that stands for something that is undoubtedly right: water that sustains life, and land that gave birth to people.”

This is the enduring power of Standing Rock. It has created inextinguishable hope, activated our historical memory and created new forms of power by the profound act of starting a global movement from a single sacred fire. The fires of Standing Rock are illuminating the transition that lies ahead and the new society that is emerging from its ashes.

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U.S. Army Corps Moves To Close Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp Feb. 22

Law enforcement officers line up against protesters during the eviction of Dakota Access pipeline opponents from a camp on private property in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Feb. 1, 2017.

Law enforcement officers line up against protesters during the eviction of Dakota Access pipeline opponents from a camp on private property in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Feb. 1, 2017.

BIA pledges support in helping Standing Rock Tribe close protest camps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given an evacuation order to those protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

The Army Corps is giving protesters until Feb. 22 to leave the Oceti Sakowin Camp for safety reasons, ABC News reported on Friday.

The Corps issued notices of the closure to protesters.

Record snowfall is expected in North Dakota, which could lead to record flooding in the area, according to an Army press release.

“Much of the land where the protest camps are currently located is directly in an area prone to flooding in years with heavy plains snow pack,” the Army said. “While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers routinely monitors river levels, ice jam flooding can very quickly force water into low-lying areas near the river with little time for reaction, placing anyone in the floodplain at risk for possible injury or death.”

Anticipated Flood Area From a January 11th, 2017 article in the Bismarck Tribune

Anticipated Flood Area. From a January 11th, 2017 article in the Bismarck Tribune

According to NBC NewsThe Corps said it would close the Oceti Sakowin Camp, which sits on approximately 50 acres of Corps land, due to the “high potential for flooding” in the low-lying area at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers.

The website of the largest protest camp urged protesters to leave.

“As we are caretakers of this land we are familiar with the oncoming flooding of the land of Mni S’os’e (Missouri River) we ask occupants of the Oc’eti Oyate to evacuate as soon as possible for safety reasons,” the Oceti Sakowin camp said in a statement.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said that if the protesters do not leave the camp, it will become a “humanitarian mission” to rescue them.

In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) pledged its support in helping the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe close the protest camps within its reservation boundaries.

The federal government announced Friday that it was dispatching BIA agents to the Standing Rock reservation.

The Corps said oil erosion and pollution — which it attributed to the “unauthorized placement of structures, vehicles, personal property, and fires” on the land over the course of more than six months — could result in contaminated runoff into both rivers.

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“As stewards of the public lands and natural resources, we have a responsibility to the public to prevent injuries and loss of life,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson. “We must also ensure our precious water resources are free from pollution due to human activities and respect for all who rely on this water for their livelihoods.”

A senior U.S. Defense official confirmed to NBC News that members of Congress were notified of the decision Friday.

The decision could be the final, decisive blow for a protest movement that began at the camp in early August with just a few dozen protesters — who call themselves water protectors — from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and blossomed into a movement captivated the nation with thousands of Native Americans and environmental activists flocking to the remote North Dakota plains to stop the $3.7 billion pipeline.

In late November, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a similar evacuation order, citing “severe winter conditions.” The order was followed up days later by a U.S. Army Corps deadline of Dec. 5.

The orders drew thousands more to the camp in solidarity, including groups of U.S. military veterans who vowed to act as “human shields” against possible clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.

On Dec. 4, just hours before that deadline, the Corps turned down a permit for the project in what would be a short-lived victory for the tribe.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memo asking for an expedited review of the Dakota Access Pipeline in an effort to get the controversial final portion of the 1,100-mile project moving again.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has promised to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not conducting the environmental-impact review it said it would conduct.

On Tuesday, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp told NBC News that the Corps would grant an easement to Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company funding the project, to finish the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe alleges the construction and operation of the pipeline would destroy sacred sites and threatens their drinking water.

Meanwhile, Morton County Sheriff’s arrested Seventy-six protesters on Wednesday after a new camp, with seven tepee frames representing the seven tribes, was erected on a hill Wednesday morning a quarter mile from the original Oceti Sakowin Camp.

American Indian activist and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member Chase Iron Eyes was charged on Friday with inciting a riot and trespass.

The anti-pipeline protest camp that once occupied by as many as 10,000 people has thinned to fewer than 300 due to harsh winter weather and a plea by Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault for the camp to disband before the spring flooding season.

The Fight at Standing Rock Isn’t Over, but Vital Support and the Media Are Packing Up

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(MIC) CANNON BALL, N.D. — Victory has been declared at Standing Rock. The media are clearing out, packing up satellite trucks and heading home. White allies who showed up in solidarity are breathing a sigh of relief. For them, the day is won, the black snake is dead, and it’s time to head home.

But for the indigenous people they are leaving behind, the fight will rage on, harder than ever before.

The Lakota Sioux people and their guests from around the globe built a veritable small city at Oceti Sakowin Camp in order to hold ground at Standing Rock, and now that the harsh North Dakota winter is settling in, they could be left with a bigger fight and fewer resources to fight it if the battle continues.

At night, communal sleeping spaces are organized with burning wood stoves.Source: David Goldman/AP

At night, communal sleeping spaces are organized with burning wood stoves.Source: David Goldman/AP

The police haven’t pulled back from the front lines, and the Dakota Access Pipeline company has no intention of leaving either.

“It’s a distraction,” Oceti Sakowin Camp volunteer Ethan Braughton said in an interview. “If they were leaving, they’d take the razor wire and all their vehicles, but they’re still continuing to get the drill pad ready. They’re not going anywhere, they just want us to leave.”

People climb the hills above Highway 1806 to the north of Oceti Sakowin Camp to get a better view of the police presence beyond the blockades.Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

People climb the hills above Highway 1806 to the north of Oceti Sakowin Camp to get a better view of the police presence beyond the blockades.Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Big money will fight on

Skimming the headlines, one might think that the Dakota Access Pipeline is dead, but the truth is more complicated. The Army Corp of Engineers declined to grant Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation building the pipeline, the easement necessary to cross under Lake Oahe, and they called for environmental impact studies for alternative routes.

But ETP doesn’t intend to stop plowing through Sioux treaty lands, and Republicans are already bragging that once Donald Trump is in office, the pipeline will carry on as planned. The company already spent approximately $3.7 billion on finishing 85% of the pipeline.

“As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe,” Energy Transfer Partners wrote in a release after the announcement. “Nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”

It’s unclear how ETP will carry on, but one rumor on the ground here at camp is that Energy Transfer Partners will continue to work and incur expensive daily fines — at this point, that’s just a widely circulated theory at Standing Rock.

The short-term victory against the pipeline effort was won by putting bodies on the line to occupy territory. The unintended consequence of celebration could be that those bodies become a scarce resource.

Using hope as a weapon

When the Morton County Sheriff’s department announced, falsely, that there would be $1,000 fines to people bringing supplies into Standing Rock, people weren’t deterred. When the North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple announced, falsely, that Standing Rock would be forced to evacuate, reinforcements still came.

Now, many of the Lakota Sioux and the Standing Rock resistance allies believe that all of the fanfare around the declared victory will just be another attempted deterrent, but this time using the illusion of success to convince the Sioux that their job is done, and that they can head home.

“They’re just making it look like they’re going to get out of here so people leave and we lose our numbers,” Braughton said. “It’s like the opposite of scare tactics — giving people hope where there is none.”

A blizzard battles Oceti Sakowin Camp the day after the victory announcement.Source: Jack Smith IV/Mic

A blizzard battles Oceti Sakowin Camp the day after the victory announcement.Source: Jack Smith IV/Mic

Even if the media turns its attention away and supporters leave the treaty lands, many of the Lakota Sioux have permanently settled at Standing Rock. It’s an area of the North Dakota plains that the indigenous rarely settle due to harsh winters, and the camp is already struggling to winterize structures and keep the roads clear as the first blizzards set in.

But they’re not leaving.

“It’s not over until they give this land back,” Tiger Forest, who’s been staying with the Lakota Sioux, said while taking shelter from the blizzard. “This is a fight for water, and for sacred land. They’re still going to need support here.”

“It’s not over.”

The Article titled The fight at Standing Rock isn’t over, but vital support and the media are packing up, By Jack Smith IV was originally posted in the MIC on December 06, 2016

https://mic.com/articles/161296/the-fight-at-standing-rock-isn-t-over-but-vital-support-and-the-media-are-packing-up#.Ze03fGAYg

Veterans for Standing Rock Head Evacuation Mission

A camper braces against high winds and a blizzard while walking inside the Oceti Sakowin camp as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball,

A camper braces against high winds and a blizzard while walking inside the Oceti Sakowin camp as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball,

By Esha Sarai | VOA News, Dec 06, 2016 

Hundreds of veterans who came to North Dakota to stand show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe were heading an evacuation mission Tuesday to help those stuck in a blizzard that immobilized most of the state.

Hundreds of cars poured into the Oceti Sakowin camp Sunday and Monday following the decision of the Army Corps of Engineers to deny an easement needed to route the Dakota Access Pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. That section is the last major part of the pipeline that hasn’t been finished.

The Oceti Sakowin camp is seen as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 6, 2016.

The Oceti Sakowin camp is seen as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 6, 2016.

Security officials at the camp, however, have not let anyone leave, citing safety concerns. Thousands of protesters have been stuck since the blizzard began Monday.

“It’s mostly involving helping people get back on the roads … people who have slipped off the road, and getting people to Prairie King,” Iraq War veteran Johnathan Engle told VOA, referring to the casino about 15 kilometers from the Oceti Sakowin camp. Thousands of “water protectors” have been staying at the camp while they protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they see as a threat to drinking water and cultural sites.

Veterans and "water protectors" from the Oceti Sakowin camp have been taking shelter in the nearby Prairie Knights Casino and Resort as a blizzard rages through North Dakota, Dec. 6, 2016. (Credit: D. Beckmann)

Veterans and “water protectors” from the Oceti Sakowin camp have been taking shelter in the nearby Prairie Knights Casino and Resort as a blizzard rages through North Dakota, Dec. 6, 2016. (Credit: D. Beckmann)

“[The casino] has a large open area” and has offered it as a place to stay, “so people are kind of spread out on the floor along the sides of the auditorium. They have their sleeping bags and other gear with them,” Johnathan said. The casino is the nearest establishment of any kind to the camp.

Though multiple news agencies have reported that Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II has asked the camp to disband, saying its mission is over, the message has not spread throughout the Oceti Sakowin camp, where many who are prepared with long-term tents and winter gear are planning to stay. Though the Army Corps announced its decision on the easement Sunday, many “water protectors” are wary that officials in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump could reverse the decision after he is inaugurated in January.

“Between the tribal elders, communication is moving very slowly here,” Kevin Basl, another member of “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock,” told VOA. “Some people are very ready for this, and there are some people who were just coming for the weekend who weren’t so well-prepared. But the roads are closed, so no one will be leaving for now.”

Water protectors celebrate the decision of the Army Corps to deny the building of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline through their and sacred Sioux land (E. Sarai/VOA)

Water protectors celebrate the decision of the Army Corps to deny the building of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline through their and sacred Sioux land (E. Sarai/VOA)

The majority of interstate Highway 94, which runs across the state, has been closed, and the North Dakota Department of Transportation issued a “no travel” advisory for the majority of state highways, including all routes to and from the Standing Rock reservation.

Basl and Engle both came to the camp over the weekend, when activist and veteran Wesley Clark Jr. organized nearly 2,000 veterans to show their support for the water protectors at Standing Rock.

A woman makes coffee in a kitchen in the Oceti Sakowin camp as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 6, 2016.

A woman makes coffee in a kitchen in the Oceti Sakowin camp as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 6, 2016.

“We’ve all signed up to sacrifice our lives to help people,” Clark told VOA near the Standing Rock camp on Sunday. “I know a lot of veterans take the oath very seriously, like I do. I put the call out to vets, and everybody answered. It’s awesome,” he said, visibly emotional over the sheer number of veterans present.

A GoFundMe page set up to support veterans coming to Standing Rock this weekend raised over $1 million.

Clark, who spoke alongside U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Sunday, cited both environmental concerns as well as a continuous history of mistreatment of the Native American people.

“The United States has broken every single treaty it’s ever signed with native peoples. Every one. And native peoples have broken no treaties with the federal government,” he said. “So it’s time this country actually starts living up to its word.”

A young Native American man on horseback watches veterans unfurl a flag near the Oceti Sakowin camp as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 4, 2016.

A young Native American man on horseback watches veterans unfurl a flag near the Oceti Sakowin camp as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 4, 2016.

Both Clark and Gabbard, who rose to popularity when she endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president last year, spoke to what they said was a misrepresentation of the issue. They said oil companies — who say they support the pipeline for efficiency, safety and economic reasons — are not actually taking people’s lives into consideration.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii speaks to reporters after addressing veterans near the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota (E. Sarai/VOA)

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii speaks to reporters after addressing veterans near the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota (E. Sarai/VOA)

“Some who are talking about this issue are trying to pit two sides of our community and our country against each other — those who are choosing to support so-called economic development and jobs pitted against those who are standing for protecting water,” Gabbard said. “It’s a false narrative; it’s a false question. Unless we protect our water, there is no economy. There are no jobs. There is no life.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/blizzard-strands-protesters-at-standing-rock-despite-calls-to-disband/3625161.html

US Army Corps to Evict Everyone from Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp after Dec. 5

Police turn water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

Police turn water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

David Archambault II releases a Statement on Army Corps Decision

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 25, 2016

According to an email dated today, sent to David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will close the portion of federal land on which water protectors are camping in North Dakota after December 5, to protect the public amid violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement.

The notice to evict everyone from the Oceti Sakowin Camp comes after over 100 people were injured and taken to hospital during clashes at Blackwater Bridge with police, who attacked water protectors with rubber bullets, tear gas, and mace canisters and more than 200 were reportedly treated for hypothermia after Morton County Sheriff’s Department deployed a water cannon in below-freezing temperatures on Sunday.

Since the Spring, water protectors have been standing in opposition of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline by setting up camps and blocking roads to stop completion of the project.

The email says: Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after Dec 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands.

All access to the present camp on the north side of the river will be closed.

Unaffected is the Camp of the Sacred Stones, which is on private land a short distance south.

Campers can move to a new area provided by the Corps, wrote John W. Henderson, commander for the Omaha district.

Army Corps evicting everyone from Standing Rock on December 5 by The Daily Haze on Scribd

Army Corps evicting everyone from Standing Rock on December 5 by The Daily Haze on Scribd

You can read the email uploaded by The Daily Haze on Scribd in it’s entirety here:

Dear Chairman Archambault:

Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 327.12, I am closing the portion of the Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River to all public use and access effective December 5, 2016. This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions. The necessary emergency, medical, and fire response services, law enforcement, or sustainable facilities to protect people from these conditions on this property cannot be provided. I do not take this action lightly, but have decided that it is required due to the concern for public safety and the fact that much of this land is leased to private persons for grazing and/or haying purposes as part of the Corps’ land management practices. To be clear, this means that no member of the general public, to include Dakota Access pipeline protestors, can be on these Corps’ lands.

The Corps of Engineers has established a free speech zone on land south of the Cannonball River for anyone wishing to peaceably protest the Dakota Access pipeline project, subject to the rules of 36 C.F.R. Part 327. In these areas, jurisdiction for police, fire, and medical response is better defined making it a more sustainable area for visitors to endure the harsh North Dakota winter. For your reference, please find enclosed a map, marked as Exhibit A, which delineates this free speech zone area, as well as shows the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River that will be prohibited from public use. Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after December 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands. There currently are many Title 36 violations occurring on the Corps lands north of the Cannonball River, including, but not limited to, unauthorized structures, fires, improper disposal of waste, and camping. Additionally, any tribal government that sponsors such illegal activity is assuming the risk for those persons who remain on these lands. See36 C.F.R. § 327.

As I have publically stated, I am asking you, as a Tribal leader, to encourage members of your Tribe, as well as any non-members who support you who are located in the encampments north of the Cannonball River on Corps’ lands to immediately and peacefully move to the free speech zone south of the Cannonball River or to a more sustainable location for the winter. I am genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of both the members of your Tribe and the general public located at these encampments. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding this information.

Sincerely, John W. Henderson, P.E. Colonel, Corps of Engineers District Commander

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II

UPDATE: 

The following statement is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II, on Nov 25, 2016.

“Today we were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that on Dec. 5th, they will close all lands north of the Cannonball River, which is where the Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns, and that they will allow for a ‘free speech zone’ south of the Cannonball River on Army Corps lands. Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. The best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of conflict between water protectors and militarized police, is to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now.”

Archambault urged the public to ask President Obama and the Corps to change the pipeline route.

“We ask that everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits, and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands. When the Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our strong opposition. Our concerns were clearly articulated directly to them in a tribal council meeting held on Sept. 30, 2014, where DAPL and the ND Public Service Commission came to us with this route. We have released the audio recording from that meeting.

Again, we ask that the United States stop the pipeline and move it outside our ancestral and treaty lands. It is both unfortunate and disrespectful that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving — a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the mistreatment of our people. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands united with more than 300 tribal nations and the water protectors who are here peacefully protesting the Dakota access pipeline to bolster indigenous people’s rights. We continue to fight for these rights, which continue to be eroded. Although we have suffered much, we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”

By some estimates there are currently as many as 5,000 people in the Oceti Sakowin camp, named for the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux.

No Charges After DAPL Security Ran Off Road, Used AR-15 At Oceti Sakowin Camp

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  • Kyle Thompson, DAPL security guard aimed AR-15 Assault Rifle at Native American water protectors in Thursday’s incident
  • Authorities say Thompson released without charges 
  • Thompson’s statement of incident on social media 

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 01, 2016 

Authorities say a member of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) security disguised as a water protector last week is a victim of a crime and not a suspect, even though he was photographed aiming an AR-15 assault rifle at Native American pipeline protesters at Oceti Sakowin camp.

APTN News reports,The man, [Kyle Thompsonwho was driving a truck last Thursday owned by the Dakota Access LLC ― the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project ― was detained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents after he was run off the road and then confronted by demonstrators. He was carrying an assault rifle. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said the man fired several shots and that he was disguised as a demonstrator.

He then got out of the vehicle and “fired several shots from his assault rifle,” the tribe said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Thompson went into the nearby water, where he was followed by unarmed Native American protesters ― who prefer to be called water protectors. The BIA was notified about the ongoing incident.

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Kyle Thompson, the DAPL security guard who aimed AR-15 at Native Americans dressed as a water protector in Thursday’s incident. Photo:/Facebook

Thompson was dressed as a water protector. A red bandanna was used to cover his face, and arm sleeves used to cover his tattoos.

A spokesperson from the Sheriff’s Department told Red Power Media on Tuesday that no one was charged in relation to the incident.

Thompson was released without charges following the incident, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

A press release from Morton County says the man [Thompson] was told to check and photograph construction equipment.

He was told to leave the area.

A chase ensued in the ditch and the man’s truck was eventually forced through a fence.

He got out with a gun in hand and retreated into the Cannon Ball River.

He was approached by a handful of men and eventually taken into custody by the BIA.

No shots were fired in the incident.

Authorities say no charges will be filed in this case and that the man was using the gun to protect himself.

Insurance documents seized from the truck showed the vehicle was owned by Dakota Access Pipeline Access LLC.

The insurance documents showed that Knightsbridge Risk Management, a private security firm with a Springfield, OH, address, was insured to operate the truck.

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A security badge found in the truck identified the man as  Kyle Thompson.

Thompson served 15-months in Iraq

According to the Daily Haze, upon Thompson’s return home from Iraq he was greeted by former Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall. Hall gifted Thompson an eagle feather headdress, then a drum group played and sang songs to celebrate his arrival and his success in war.

“It meant a lot to me because of my heritage,” Thompson said.

Now, 10-years later, Thompson armed with an AR-15 and on the opposite side of the DAPL resistance, had to be ran off the road by Native Americans fighting to protect their lands, including burial sites, and the Sioux tribe’s drinking water.

DAPL armed security Kyle Thompson confronted by water protectors.

DAPL armed security Kyle Thompson confronted by water protectors.

Thompson’s response

Thompson has since taken to social media to claim that he was only attempting to get pictures of equipment, and had no intention of using his weapon. He claims instead that he grabbed his weapon after “over 300 protesters” were coming towards his truck that had been ran off the road. The post can be read below:

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Witnesses on the scene strongly dispute Thompson’s account and say that Thompson was a legitimate threat to people’s safety.

The incident happened near Backwater Bridge, October 27th, just as tensions reached new heights between protesters and police along Highway 1806.

RELATED:

142 people were arrested after Morton County Sheriff deputies assisted by the N. Dakota State Patrol, National Guard and law enforcement officers from seven States, launched a midday operation, ― with pepper spray, tasers, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets used ― to remove protesters from an encampment on private land in the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline’s path.

On Friday, Amnesty International dispatched human rights observers to North Dakota to monitor the ongoing repression of Native Americans resisting the pipeline.

Hwy 1806: Protectors Back Off; Shots Fired and DAPL Security Arrested for AR-15 Attack at Oceti Sakowin Camp

Mike Vosburg / The Forum

Mike Vosburg / The Forum

Update: Day after police sweep the camp, tribal elders negotiate peaceful end to Backwater Bridge standoff

By Red Power Media, Staff | Oct 28, 2016

In the aftermath of Thursday’s confrontation near Cannon Ball N.D., where 142 people were arrested and three shots were fired at law enforcement officers, water protectors again occupied the Backwater Bridge and roadway throughout Friday, where the controversial Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) is being built.

A couple of hundred protesters again faced off with law enforcement officerson Friday. But this time, the use of pepper spray and military-style Humvees was averted when elders of the Standing Rock Tribe brokered a truce on the bridge littered with burnt-out vehicles and police barricades. Protesters were persuaded to clear the bridge following negotiations between officers and tribal elders.

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Negotiations made between officers and tribal elders at police barricade on edge of Backwater bridge.

Omaha World-Herald‎ reported, Miles Allard, who has allowed protesters since April to camp on land that he owns with his wife, said he intervened because of concerns that people were going to get hurt.

“I told them to back off and we’d back off,” Allard said. “Their main concern was to get people off the highway. … My main concern was prayer and nonviolence.”

 Miles Allard, a tribal elder who negotiated a peaceful stand-down between pipeline protesters and authorities on Friday. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Miles Allard, tribal elder who negotiated a peaceful stand-down between pipeline protesters and authorities on Friday. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

“We are not going away,” says Miles Allard, a tribal elder who negotiated the peaceful stand-down between pipeline protesters and authorities on Friday.

Both sides backed off to clear a Highway 1806 bridge where the tense confrontation began Thursday.

Allard, 68, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa elder and a lifelong resident of the Standing Rock reservation, said protesters aren’t backing down but that the only way they will win is through prayer and nonviolence.

Authorities on Friday also allowed tribal officials to remove about a dozen teepees from the site of a camp

The highway bridge, which has been closed in conjunction with Highway 1806, crosses over Cantapeta Creek north of Cannonball. The bridge, on which debris burned throughout the night and into Friday morning, has been declared unsafe for anyone to cross and will remain closed until any damage to the structure is evaluated by bridge engineers. During the closure, motorists need to use alternate routes.

Meanwhile, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations investigators were combing through the remnants of a north camp that was cleared of protesters on Thursday — treating it as a crime scene. In addition, 70 vehicles were towed from the scene.

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Tires burn as law enforcement officers stand in formation on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.

Thursday, about 200 heavily armed police in riot gear, with military equipment, launched a midday operation to remove demonstrators from their encampment on private land.

According to press reports and social media posts, police ordered Native American water protectors and Environmental activists occupying a camp in the path of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to leave — or be arrested. The sheriff’s department announced it was also dismantling a roadblock set up on highway 1806.

Law enforcement demanded that the protesters leave on Wednesday but they had refused.

“Move to the south,” police said over the loudspeaker.

The protesters who prefer to be called water protectors, refused to leave the land in the pipeline’s path ― owned by the pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. Members of the tribe say the land they were occupying is rightfully theirs and authorities were failing to respect two treaties ratified by the federal government.

A stand-off with police lasted for several hours before authorities moved closer to the camp and started to forcibly remove the water protectors.

Law enforcement used a long range acoustic device (LRAD) sonic weapon that could be heard on live streams. Riot police used batons, pepper spray, tasers and non-lethal ammo (rubber/bean bags) on the protesters who were defending the new Oceti Sakowin camp, according to Facebook videos and live streams from the site. Some campers ran from the violent response as police pursued.

One water protector was shot in the face, two teen horse riders were shot at and one horse was injured by a police projectile another horse died from police gunfire.

The protest has lingered for months, which began when Native Americans of the Standing Rock reservation claimed the pipeline threatens sacred land and local water reserves.

Determined to be the last line of defense between the pipeline and Missouri River, the water protectors stood their ground.

Protesters are burning tires, logs and other objects, sending smoke onto the roadway. A car has also been torched, journalist Jason Patinkin tweeted.

In retaliation of the police repression, they also reportedly threw rocks, logs, bottles and other debris at riot police as the tensions reached new heights.

Some prayed in circles while others yelled at advancing members of law enforcement, according to The Associated Press.

“Stand up, rise up, find your warrior spirit!” one protester chanted.

Later in the evening, protesters started two fires on the Backwater Bridge and threw Molotov cocktails at authorities, according to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Morton County Sheriff deputies were assisted in the sweep of the camp and roadblocks, by the N. Dakota State Patrol, National Guard and law enforcement officers from seven States.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the Associated Press that it had cleared the private land of protesters around 6:30pm EST Thursday.

Of the 141 arrests on Thursday, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said most of the protesters faced charges for conspiracy to endanger by fire or explosion, engaging in a riot and maintaining a public nuisance. Seven people were arrested for reckless endangerment after using “sleeping dragon devices” to attach themselves to items. — 

Incidents of shots fired

The Bismarck Tribune reported, shots were fired Thursday on multiple occasions. One instance came at Backwater Bridge in Morton County, where one person was injured after being shot in the hand, according to the sheriff’s department. Cecily Fong of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services said the shooting involved a person who had been run off the road by protesters north of the main protest camp south of County Road 134 on N.D. Highway 1806.

Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous environmental network, said the man climbed out of the vehicle and stood out in the creek with the rifle. He said several protesters attempted to de-escalate the situation.

A near half our stand off took place. The armed driver was shot in the hand during what CBS News was told was a tussle with protesters, reports CBS News. Eventually, BIA came to the scene, disarmed the man, and his was placed under arrest.

Thompson was caught with an AR-15 at the Oceti Sakowin camp with 30 live rounds.

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DAPL Security Guard Brandishing Firearm at Standing Rock Encampment — Photo: Ryan Vizziones

Social media posts reported the armed instigator wearing a mask who drove into the camp with a assault rifle, ― then run off the road by protesters ― was a hired Dakota Access pipeline security guard, named Kyle Thompson.

He then got out of the vehicle and “fired several shots from his assault rifle,” the tribe said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Documents found in the man’s Chevy Silverado pickup suggested he was a Dakota Access Pipeline security guard in a company-owned truck, the Standing Rock Sioux statement said.

The truck that Thompson was driving is insured for Thompson-Gray, LLC, Knightsbridge Risk Management in Springfield, Ohio, says, the Hispanic News Network U.S.A. Blog 

A travel log also indicated that Thompson might have been accompanied by another DAPL security guard who couldn’t be located at the scene.

When he was on his way to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Police Department in Fort Yates, a person unknown to EnviroNews World News, drove the Chevy Silverado about a half mile up the road, close to where police and protectors were still colliding, after which a group of people raided the truck.

Native American ‘Protectors’ Burn DAPL Security Truck - http://www.environews.tv/world-news/dapl-security-guard-arrested-shooting-native-american-protectors-set-truck-fire/

Native American ‘Protectors’ Burn DAPL Security Truck

In the raid, protectors found a photo ID badge of the man [Kyle Thompson] that said “DAPL Security.” They also found insurance cards issued to Dakota Access LLC, out of Houston, Texas. After the protectors had “rifled through” the truck and taken the documents, they set it ablaze and watched it burn.

According to a spokesman from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Police Department, Thompson was transferred to the FBI around 8 p.m.

The FBI was investigating but turned the case over to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The Hispanic News Network U.S.A. has also reported, Thompson is a U.S. Army Veteran who served 15 months in Iraq and in 2007 he was given the name “War Eagle” by his family who are Native Americans.

In a separate incident, a woman was arrested for firing a weapon at police near Highway 1806.