Sunday, October 30, 2016

Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock

On Friday, October 27, 2016, I joined with well over 1000 others at Minneapolis City Hall. We gathered to stand in prayer and solidarity with the hundreds of native people at Standing Rock, North Dakota who are protecting the waters of the Missouri River and the surrounding land from the construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. We also gathered to voice our opposition to the deployment of about 30 Hennepin County sheriff’s personnel to Standing Rock.

Following is an excerpt from Beatrice Dupuy's Star Tribune article on Friday's rally.

Local American Indian leaders, state representatives and members of the faith community [where among those gathered in a show of solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock] in front of the entrance to City Hall near the Metro Transit light-rail station. The four-state, thousand-mile pipeline is being built by a Texas company [Energy Transfer Partners] to carry North Dakota crude to a shipping point in Illinois, prompting protests led by members of the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., called on Minnesota protesters to lift their voices amid the blaring of the train horns warning them to stand back from the lines.

“The world is watching what you are doing,” he said.

Local American Indian leaders asked protesters to fill out a ballot containing the question, “Do you want a sheriff who protects corporate interests while abusing people who are defending our water?” Sheriff’s Office personnel collected the ballots from protesters in front of Sheriff Richard Stanek’s office.

Demonstrators held signs reading “No DAPL” and demanded that Hennepin County withdraw its deputies from North Dakota. State Rep. Karen Clark, D-Minn., read a letter to Stanek asking that deputies be brought home.

Terry Fiddler of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe also spoke, saying social media has drawn a lot of attention to the Standing Rock protest and led to an awakening of concern about water and treaty rights.

“The police department is paid by our taxes,” he said. “Yet they are fighting for the big corporations, not for their people.”

After marching around the corner, the protesters filed inside City Hall. At one point, they lined all three stories of the City Hall’s lobby.

Following are more of my photographs from Friday's rally accompanied by excerpts from a number of commentaries and articles about the ongoing situation at Standing Rock.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is leading the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have been joined by the largest tribal coalition in over 100 years in their stand against the pipeline. The coalition is also comprised of activists, allies, and environmentalists, collectively known as “water protectors,” at the Sacred Stone Camp, an encampment close to the location where the pipeline is planned to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota. According to the Sacred Stone camp website, they are opposing the pipeline because “[t]he Dakota Access threatens everything from farming and drinking water to entire ecosystems, wildlife and food sources surrounding the Missouri.”

The Standing Rock Sioux also say the pipeline is violating treaty land, Sioux territory that was established many years ago by the federal government. “We will not allow Dakota Access to trespass on our treaty territory and destroy our medicines and our culture.”

The opposition to the pipeline spreads across several states and is not opposed solely by Native Americans. Farmers, ranchers, and landowners are also opposed to the pipeline. Many of them have had their land taken from them against their will and given to the pipeline via eminent domain.

Nick Bernabe
Excerpted from "5 Things to Know About
the Dakota Access Protests
The Anti-Media
October 27, 2016

It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. #NoDAPL is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.

The fact that we are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other group speaks to the fact that Native erasure is ubiquitous, both culturally and literally, but pushed from public view. Our struggles intersect with numerous others, but are perpetrated with different motives and intentions. Anti-Blackness, for example, is a performative enforcement of structural power, whereas the violence against us is a matter of pragmatism. The struggle at Standing Rock is an effort to prevent the construction of a deadly, destructive mechanism, created by greed-driven people with no regard for our lives. It has always been this way. We die, and have died, for the sake of expansion and white wealth, and for the maintenance of both.

The harms committed against us have long been relegated to the history books. This erasure has occurred for the sake of both white supremacy and US mythology, such as American exceptionalism. It has also been perpetuated to sustain the comfort of those who benefit from harms committed against us. Our struggles have been kept both out of sight and out of mind — easily forgotten by those who aren’t directly impacted.

It should be clear to everyone that we are not simply here in those rare moments when others bear witness.

Kelly Hayes
Excerpted from "How To Talk About #NoDAPL: A Native Perspective"
Transformative Spaces
October 27, 2016

Every preposterous and painful image from North Dakota is another reminder of injustice: The massive military-style police occupation of Standing Rock treaty lands, the rush to protect the frantic construction schedule for the Dakota Access pipeline, and the brutal law enforcement march against people who are fighting for the simple idea that water is life.

. . . Since the beginning of the Standing Rock crisis there has been a call for President Obama to get involved. After all, there is a clear federal issue: The Oceti Sakowin Camp is on treaty land now claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

And President Obama has a direct emotional connection with this tribe and this place:

“I know that throughout history, the United States often didn’t give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved. So I promised when I ran to be a president who’d change that, a president who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty, and upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership, in mutual respect, to give our children the future that they deserve.”

How could he have done that? Mutual respect could have, should have, started with a federal presence that made talking more important than acting. The action at Standing Rock is not over. But the federal government’s absence is not productive.

Indeed, if you listen to any politician, Democrat or Republican, you’ll hear them talk about respect for the treaties. Of course. The Constitution says treaties “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The word “shall” is like a commandment. But if that’s true, then how does any treaty tribe have less land than what’s in the document? Legally, morally, a treaty trumps a congressional act or an executive order. A treaty claim to the land is not preposterous.

If the United States lived up to its own ideals, there would be no stolen water, land, and dams on the Missouri River, and the Army Corps of Engineers would have a long history of real negotiation with the tribes instead of a pretend consultation.

Then every tribe in the country has its own Standing Rock story.

Mark Trahant
Excerpted from "The Injustice at Standing Rock Is an American Story"
Yes! Magazine
October 28, 2016

The Native Americans who have spent the last months in peaceful protest against an oil pipeline along the banks of the Missouri are standing up for tribal rights. They’re also standing up for clean water, environmental justice and a working climate. And it’s time that everyone else joined in.

The shocking images of the National Guard destroying tepees and sweat lodges and arresting elders this week remind us that the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the longest-running drama in American history — the United States Army versus Native Americans. In the past, it’s almost always ended horribly, and nothing we can do now will erase a history of massacres, stolen land and broken treaties. But this time, it can end differently.

Those heroes on the Standing Rock reservation, sometimes on horseback, have peacefully stood up to police dogs, pepper spray and the bizarre-looking militarized tanks and SWAT teams that are the stuff of modern policing. (Modern and old-fashioned both: The pictures of German shepherds attacking are all too reminiscent of photos from, say, Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.)

The courage of those protesters managed to move the White House enough that the government called a temporary halt to construction. But the forces that want it finished — Big Oil, and its allies in parts of the labor movement — are strong enough that the respite may be temporary.

In coming weeks, activists will respond to calls from the leaders at Standing Rock by gathering at the offices of banks funding the pipeline, and at the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, for protest and civil disobedience. Two dozen big banks have lent money to the pipeline project, even though many of them have also adopted elaborate environmental codes. As for the Corps, that’s the agency that helped “expedite” the approval of the pipeline — and must still grant the final few permits.

Bill McKibben
Excerpted from "Why Dakota Is the New Keystone"
The New York Times
October 28, 2016

There is an epic clash of two cultures — one with a guiding ethic of harmony between people and nature, the other driven by an ethos that encourages the exploitation of both. Yet, for months, our clueless media gave this match-up little coverage.

For the face-off is between Energy Transfer Partners, one of the world's largest pipeline corporations, and the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe. It's not merely big news, but the panoramic story of America itself. It's a real reality show — a cultural, political and moral drama featuring raw greed, grassroots courage, class war, ancient rites, human rights, defenders of the common good, the most nefarious Texas oilman since J. R. Ewing, a historic gathering of Native tribes and a Bull-Connor-style sheriff — all on location near a North Dakota town named Cannon Ball!

Jim Hightower
Excerpted from "The Cannon Ball Saga,
An Epic Story From the American Heartland
Common Dreams
October 26, 2016

There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far. The first is the obvious environmental racism of the whole project.

Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri just north of Bismarck, until people pointed out that a leak there would threaten the drinking water supply for North Dakota’s second biggest city. [NOTE: For's analysis of this claim, click here.] The solution, in keeping with American history, was obvious: make the crossing instead just above the Standing Rock reservation, where the poverty rate is nearly three times the national average. This has been like watching the start of another Flint, Mich., except with a chance to stop it.

The second is that this is precisely the kind of project that climate science tells us can no longer be tolerated.

Bill McKibben
Excerpted from "Why Dakota Is the New Keystone"
The New York Times
October 28, 2016

The fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline is also over issues beyond saving tribal burial grounds from the bulldozer or protecting reservation rights to clean water from the Missouri River. White farmers and other landowners also have opposed the project along its route from the Bakken formation in North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, though with little success and less coverage so far.

There were 18 arrests on Saturday in Boone County, bringing the Iowa total to nearly 50, which doesn’t rival the tally over many weeks at the Standing Rock protests but isn’t trivial, either.

In addition to local environmental concerns, or simply wanting the pipeline routed away from their own properties, many in Iowa and elsewhere resent the four states’ grants of eminent domain to the project, which enable Energy Transfer Partners to take by legal force any easements for its pipeline that it can’t obtain by writing a check.

Eminent domain is typically reserved for the taking of private property for a public purpose, like highways and power lines. Speaking of power lines, we now come to perhaps the most far-reaching way in which the DAPL battle may change national policy – by focusing attention and ire on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to authorize the pipeline without environmental review under its Nationwide Permit 12 program, aka NWP 12.

Normally a four-state pipeline built to carry petroleum products across the landscape, like every other project with significant potential impact on the surrounding environment, would require federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The requirement is obvious and until recently it was routinely met.

But in the last several years, in a shift most commentators trace to the Obama White House, several large pipeline projects have gotten federal signoff under NWP 12, which is administered by the Corps as part of its authority to protect the nation’s surface waters and wetlands.

Ron Meador
Excerpted from "Why the Dakota Access Pipeline Fight
May Be a Turning Point in U.S. Environmental Politics
September 16, 2016

The Sioux struggle against the pipeline embraces so many other struggles in this nation. It encompasses struggles against climate catastrophe, a history of breaking treaties with Native Americans, attacks on the right to assemble, assaults on journalists, the militarization of police, and placing corporate profits over human rights.

I traveled to Standing Rock with a small group of members from Veterans For Peace (VFP). . . . While camping at Standing Rock (the official camp name is Oceti Sakowin; Standing Rock is the reservation), we were treated as family. Everyone called each other relatives, brother, sister, mother, grandmother and so on. Water, coffee, food, snacks, tents, clothes and various camping equipment were available to all without a price tag. The only request was for people to be unarmed and drug and alcohol free.

. . . We also know now that not only is water life, as the Standing Rock Sioux continue to cry out, but water is also peace. None of us can have any peace without the basic necessities of life such as clean air and water, arable land, clothing, shelter and justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice.” That’s what we were fighting for at Standing Rock, peace and justice.

Will Griffin
Excerpted from "After Two Wars, Standing Rock is
the First Time I Served the American People
Common Dreams
October 30, 2016

While media attention has focused on the massive, sometimes heated demonstrations – which include several [. . .] instances of brutality and dog attacks – there has been less attention paid to how the protest is recharging the lager climate movement, not to mention the peculiar nature of the participants. [Pua] Case, for instance, traveled quite a long way to [Standing Rock]: she is from the sunny shores of Hawaii, not rugged North Dakota, and she claims a Native Hawaiian identity, not a Native American one. And she wasn’t there just to protest; the sacredness of the land is especially important to her, so she was also there to pray.

“Standing Rock is a prayer camp,” she said. “It is where prayers are done.”

Case’s experience is shockingly common – both as a protester visiting a far-flung land to support a Native cause, and as a witness to an emerging indigenous spiritual movement that is sweeping North America.

She’s part of something bigger that is, by all accounts, the theological opposite of the aggressively Christian “awakenings” that once dominated American life in the 18th and 19th centuries, when primarily white, firebrand ministers preached a gospel of “manifest destiny” – the religious framework later used to justify the subjugation of Native Americans and their territories. The diverse constellation of Native theologies articulated at Standing Rock and other indigenous protest camps champions the reverse: they seek to protect land, water, and other natural resources from further human development, precisely because they are deemed sacred by indigenous people.

And this year, after centuries of struggle, their prayers are starting to be answered.

Jack Jenkins
Excerpted from "The Growing Indigenous Spiritual Movement
That Could Save the Planet
Think Progress
September 30, 2016

NEXT: At Standing Rock and Beyond,
Celebrating and Giving Thanks
for a "Historic Decision"

Related Off-site Links:
Pipeline Protesters Angry with Hennepin County Sheriff Pack Minneapolis City Hall – Beatrice Dupuy (Star Tribune, October 29, 2016).
15 Indigenous Women on the Frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance – Emily Arasim and Osprey Orielle Lake (EcoWatch, October 29, 2016).
Tribe Vows to Fight North Dakota Pipeline Through Winter – Josh Morgan (Reuters, October 29, 2016).
30 Powerful Photos Show Standoff Between Militarized Police and Dakota Access Pipeline Protestors – Annie Leonard (EcoWatch, October 29, 2016).
Bison Charge Across the Landscape Amid Dakota Pipeline Protests – Hilary Hanson (The Huffington Post, October 29, 2016).
Demonstrators Echo N.D. Pipeline Protest at Minneapolis City Hall – Brandt Williams (MPR News, October 28, 2016).
Police from 5 States Escalate Violence and Shoot Horses to Clear 1851 Treaty (October 28, 2016).
Why Hollywood, Environmentalists and Native Americans Have Converged on North Dakota – Steven Mufson (The Washington Post, October 28, 2016).
How Far Will North Dakota Go? The Illogical Conclusion Is Too Terrible to Think About – Mark Trahant (Indian Country Today, October 27, 2016).
Protesters oppose Hennepin County Deputies Being Sent to North Dakota Protests – Randy Furst and Mark Brunswick (Star Tribune, October 26, 2016).
Hundreds Flood Minneapolis City Hall to Demand Local Sheriff Withdraw from North DakotaUnicorn Riot (October 26, 2016).
Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse – David Marchese (New York Magazine, October 25, 2016).
How Far Will North Dakota Go to Get This Pipeline? – Mark Trahant (Yes! Magazine, October 23, 2016).
Is Standing Rock the Oil Industry's Last Stand? It's Up to Us to Make It So – Four Arrows (TruthOut, October 17, 2016).
Standing Firm at Standing Rock: Why the Struggle is Bigger Than One Pipeline – Sarah Jaffe (, September 28, 2016).
A History of Native Americans Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline – Alexander Sammon (Mother Jones, September 9, 2016).

UPDATES: Hillary Clinton Breaks DAPL Silence with Statement That Says "Literally Nothing" – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, October 28, 2016).
Dakota Access Pipeline: Native Americans Allege Cruel Treatment – Sam Levin (The Guardian, October 30, 2016).
Bernie Sanders Denounces Standing Rock Pipeline Project in Impassioned Tweetstorm – Emily Cahn (PolicyMic, November 1, 2016).
Trump and Clinton Are Both Ignoring Standing Rock, and It’s Unacceptable – Jesse Mechanic (The Huffington Post, November 1, 2016).
MN Deputies Leave Pipeline Protest – Jay Knoll (KARE 11 News, November 1, 2016).
Why Understanding Native American Spirituality is Important for Resolving the Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis – Rosalyn R. LaPier (The Conversation, November 2, 2016).
Public Servants or Corporate Security?: An Open Letter to Law Enforcement and National Guard in North Dakota – Winona LaDuke, Ann Wright and Zoltán Grossman (Common Dreams, November 2, 2016).
Standing Rock Sioux Prepare to Keep Up Pipeline Protest Through North Dakota Winter – Timothy Mclaughlin (Reuters, November 2, 2016).
The Battle Over the Dakota Access Pipeline, Explained – Brad Plumer (Vox, November 2, 2016).
Clergy from Numerous Faith Traditions Shows Solidarity with Standing Rock – Jenny Schlecht (Bismarck Tribune, November 3, 2016).
Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Over Dakota Access Pipeline Case – Doug Williams (Outdoor Revival, April 11, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Standing Together
Quote of the Day – August 19, 2016
Something to Think About – October 13, 2015
Words of Wisdom on Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Visions of Crazy Horse
Something to Think About – April 22, 2014
Threshold Musings
"Something Sacred Dwells There"
A Spirit of Defiance

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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