By Ramon Jacobs-Shaw for Health Affairs Blog – Access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water is not just a concern of developing countries but of communities in our own backyard. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota, for instance, relies on Lake Oahe, a 231-mile reservoir along the Missouri River, as its primary water source. In July 2016, the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172-mile duct that will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois when completed, which will run underneath the Missouri River less than a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, including through the tribe’s sacred, ancestral lands. Given concerns about having oil-related infrastructure near major water sources, especially after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 (the largest oil spill in US waters), members of the tribe have been vigorously defending their rights to safe, clean water. Their struggle has caught the attention of major advocacy organizations around the world and indigenous tribes in other nations. After a brief reprieve in December 2016 when the Obama administration blocked further construction of the DAPL…
By Michael Negro for The Huffington Post – Everyone knew that in less than 24 hours the camp was scheduled to be raided by a militarized force, which consisted of local, state and federal police departments, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the Bureau of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, reportedly, the NSA, among other law enforcement agencies. For days, few corporate media outlets had been seen near the camp making it all the more important for the independent and citizen journalists to report and document and witness what was an eventuality: the violent destruction of the camp. In a mere 10 months, Standing Rock came to symbolize so much more than a pipeline fight.
By Andrew M Harri for Bloomberg – Energy Transfer Partners LP cleared another legal hurdle with oil soon to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. On Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington rejected a Native American tribe’s request to put the project on pause while it asks an appeals court to block it. Last week, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said the tribe waited too long to argue that the conduit threatened to make lake water impure and unsuitable for their religious practices. Attorneys for the ETP-led Dakota Access LLC consortium building the pipeline told the court Monday that oil could be introduced as soon as March 20. The 1,172-mile pipe will carry crude from shale oil-rich northwestern North Dakota to a terminal in Patoka, Illinois.
By Jihan Hafiz for The Intercept – IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL closing prayer in front of the sacred fire at Oceti Sakowin camp, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, ground zero of the movement to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. For hundreds of people who lived here, Oceti Sakowin had become home. Equipped with medical facilities, kitchens, security posts, prayer lodges, a building supply depot, a school, and a town hall, Oceti was a Native-led community built by the NoDAPL movement. On Wednesday, as many walked out of Oceti for the last time, smoke filled the air. Spiritual leaders chose to burn Native religious structures instead of allowing the police to bulldoze them. The North Dakota police had given water protectors a 2 p.m. deadline to leave the camp. But more than 100 stayed behind, refusing to leave land they consider theirs. At 4 p.m., the police advanced, targeting both water protectors and journalists.
By Four Arrows for Truthout – Oppressive legislation is aimed at ending grassroots resistance, the bedrock requirement for sustaining democracy. In an op-ed in the Guardian, Douglas Williams writes that it is not just the media, judiciary or electoral systems that are being undermined: “What is ignored is the effect that the Trump administration will have on the social movements, which serve as pillars of the resistance. If these fall, our democracy will be irreparably harmed.” In response to the “water is life” spiritual movement in Standing Rock, lawmakers in 10 states have proposed oppressive legislation. In North Dakota, a bill was proposed to let someone get away with running over a protester, after a cop on a snowmobile ran over a Water Protector. Earlier this month, the North Dakota State Senate passed a bill 33-12, making it illegal for a protester to wear a mask, whether to protect the face from cold or pepper spray.
By Staff of Unicorn Riot – We spoke with an Indigenous elder in the late morning who talked about passively resisting the scheduled eviction, saying, We have no intentions on leaving, we are standing on our 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty rights, we are taking an 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty stance and we are legitimate 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty representatives. For my people out there, we stand for you, and water.” He further stated, This is a sacred site and we are protected by federal statutes … forcefully removing us from treaty territories is another violation. Again, we are here in peace and prayer, we are supposed to be protected and we’re not. We’re going to resist, and it’s passive resistance, we’re not going to fight them. At the same time, we’re going to be praying for them and their families for this water, that they need, that we all need.” With less than an hour before the set eviction time of 2 p.m., many water protectors marched south out of camp towards the Cannonball bridge as more fires burned.
By Claire Lampen for News Mic – With just over a day to go before the evacuation deadline arrives at North Dakota’s Oceti Sakowin camp, protesters at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation have issued a plea: Come help — now. In a viral video shared by social justice journalist Shaun King on Monday, a group of indigenous women remind viewers that demonstrations against the Dakota Access pipeline are about much more than a single issue. They’re about clean water, police brutality, treaty rights and the rights of future generations, “In the history of colonization, they’ve always given us two options: Give up our land or go to jail. Give up our rights or go to jail,” one woman says in the video. “And now, give up our water or go to jail. We are not criminals.”
By Alleen Brown for The Intercept – UNDER ORDERS FROM President Donald Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers on February 7 approved a final easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Construction has restarted, and lawyers for the company say it could take as little as 30 days for oil to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. While the Standing Rock Sioux and neighboring tribes attempt to halt the project in court, other opponents of the pipeline have launched what they’re calling a “last stand,” holding protests and disruptive actions across the U.S. In North Dakota, where it all began, a few hundred people continue to live at camps on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, using them as bases for prayer and for direct actions to block construction.
By Four Arrows for Truthout – Maybe something positive will result from the dangerously brazen antics of the Trump administration. Perhaps an awakening of consciousness is occuring that would not have happened without the obviousness of Trump’s inadequacies. We may be realizing just how wrong we are in how we are treating our planet and its creatures, including ourselves. It is no coincidence that the first showdown is going to be at Standing Rock. Indigenous people are on the front lines around the world, standing against those corporations coming into the last pristine places on Earth to mine or drill. Standing Rock, however, has captured public attention. What happens there might define the kind of resistance that will continue against the Trump administration’s wrong-headed policies. If the Corp, the BIA, DAPL security and the state militia do as they say on Feb 22, whatever happens, this could be our last beginning for a movement that can stop the destruction of Mother Earth.
By Staff of Associated Press. A U.S. federal judge on Monday denied a request by Native American tribes seeking to halt construction of the final link in the Dakota Access Pipeline, the controversial project that has sparked months of protests by activists aimed at stopping the 1,170-mile line. At a hearing, Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., rejected the request from the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, who argued that the project would prevent them from practicing religious ceremonies at a lake they contend is surrounded by sacred ground. With this decision, legal options for the tribes continue to narrow, as construction on the final uncompleted stretch is currently proceeding. Another hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27, as the tribes seek an injunction ordering the Army Corps to withdraw the easement. Lawyers for the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux wanted Judge Boasberg to block construction with a temporary restraining order on the grounds that the pipeline would obstruct the free exercise of their religious practices. “We’re disappointed with today’s ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised,” said Chase Iron Eye.
By Sam Levin for The Guardian. US veterans are returning to Standing Rock and pledging to shield indigenous activists from attacks by a militarized police force, another sign that the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline is far from over. Army veterans from across the country have arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, or are currently en route after the news that Donald Trump’s administration has allowed the oil corporation to finish drilling across the Missouri river. The growing group of military veterans could make it harder for police and government officials to try to remove hundreds of activists who remain camped near the construction site and, some hope, could limit use of excessive force by law enforcement during demonstrations. “We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force,” said Elizabeth Williams, a 34-year-old air force veteran, who arrived at Standing Rock with a group of vets late on Friday.
By Sam Levin for The Guardian – The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists. The Guardian has established that multiple officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota. The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment.
By Phil Mckenna for Inside Climate News – The Army Corps of Engineers granted a final easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline late Wednesday. The action overturned an earlier ruling by the Army Corps to halt construction until it conducted a more complete environmental assessment of the project’s Missouri River crossing. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is a half-mile downstream from the crossing, says the pipeline threatens its water supply and sacred sites. Its opposition triggered months of protests. An environmental impact review initiated by the Army Corps in the final weeks of the Obama administration could have delayed the project for years. That review is now canceled.
By Sam Levin for The Guardian – Clarence Rowland returned to Standing Rock in the dark of night. The 26-year-old Oglala Sioux tribe member arrived to his solar-powered hut at 1.30am on Wednesday, knowing that within several hours, Dakota Access pipeline workers could start drilling. “I came back to stand for our people,” Rowland said, as he prepared a large stew inside his family’s wooden hut. Around him, young children took shelter from sub-zero temperatures outside. Rowland – who arrived at Standing Rock last August, but went home in January – is one of a number of Native Americans who rushed back this week to the camps in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to fight the $3.7bn pipeline.