Standing Tall at Standing Rock

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

Since the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock Sioux reservation, North Dakota, began in August, the United States government has taken the side of corporate interests that threaten the water supply of four states in the Midwest by allowing mercenaries to attack unarmed protestors, arresting journalists for covering the protest, and using extreme tactics to try to intimidate and stop the movement.

Also: 5 Things You Need to Know About Standing Rock

The protest first came to national attention on September 3, after destruction of sacred tribal lands began while a complaint filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was pending decision. Construction crews began running bulldozers across the reservation, destroying sites of historic, religious, and cultural significance. Native Americans from more than 90 tribes had already been gathered on site, in an ongoing protest that began when complaint had first been filed on July 27— only to face mercenaries, pepper spray, and dogs set loose against them.

Youths ride horses at an oil pipeline protest encampment near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their supporters have gathered to voice their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), September 3, 2016. Photo; ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

Journalist Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now,” the only major media outlet to show up on site, was arrested on charges of riot for filming the actions of the private security guards. Earlier this week, District Court Judge John Grinsteiner ruled that there was no probable cause and dropped the charge against Goodman, adding false arrest to the crimes of the state against the people.

In response to the public outcry, the Obama administration announced that it would halt construction of the DAPL near North Dakota’s Lake Oahe until it can do more environmental assessments. That halt was overturned on October 9, when the United States Court of Appeals ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s original complaint—allowing destruction of Native lands and burial grounds to continue.

Despite the government’s continued support of the DAPL and the state’s extreme tactics against unarmed protestors, the movement continues to grow, preparing itself to settle in for a long winter. On October 19, the Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal council voted to make tribal land available to the hundreds of protestors gathered so that they do not need to remain on U.S. Army Corps property.

Jeremy T Prettypaint, 15, of the Crow/Gros Ventre tribe looks on as he sits on a fence blocking access to a construction site a new oil pipeline beside a sign reading “#decolonise”. September 3, 2016. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

Describing themselves as “Water Protectors,” the protests are unarmed, peaceful, and law abiding. Their motto, “Water is Life,” speaks to our collective need to preserve the earth, not just for ourselves, but for future generations. The movement is attracting people from all walks of life, including actress Shailene Woodley (“Divergent” and “Snowden”), who was one of 20 estimated protestors arrested for trespassing on October 10. Woodley filmed her arrest on Facebook Live and posted it on her page; it has since been viewed more than 4.7 million times.

With drones flying overhead, police checkpoints set up, and surveillance off-site, many of the movement’s leaders are being targeted by the police. Cody Hall of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was arrested for two misdemeanors at a dramatic traffic stop that involved at least 18 police officers. The charges were dropped on October 11, but he remains under constant surveillance.

At the same time, there are also protests going on at other sites, creating a confluence of extreme policing that has resulted in the arrests of filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change.” On October 11, she was detained while filming a protest in Walhalla, North Dakota, against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline, and charged with three conspiracy felonies that carry a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Flags of Native American tribes from across the US and Canada line the entrance to a protest encampment near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters have gather to voice their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), September 3, 2016. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

Here are some ways you can stand tall with Standing Rock:

Update: On Saturday, October 22, 2016, police arrested 83 unarmed Water Protectors on charges of criminal trespass, inciting a riot, and resisting arrest after spraying them with pepper and beating with them with batons. Video of police activity can be seen at here.

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.


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