According to the websites theantimedia and Unicornriot, law enforcement in North Dakota has begun arresting those trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline Project near the Standing Rock Reservation.
According to a Unicorn Riot report today:
Multiple lockdowns are taking place at two Dakota Access Pipeline construction sites. All work has stopped. While a surveillance plane and helicopter circle overhead, police on the ground have blocked all road access to both sites.
Approximately 100 riot police have come to at least one site, armed with assault rifles and less-lethal weapons. Around 20 people have just been arrested at the site of the #NoDAPL lockdown, including medics and two Unicorn Riot journalists. As arrests are under way, Facebook is censoring our live video stream.
Healing Minnesota Stories cannot assess what actions Facebook did or did not take. Here is an archived video link by UnicornRiot that was working when we tried it at 7:05 p.m. CST.
This action against comes after private security guards used attack dogs earlier this month on those trying to protect water and sacred lands.
The Dakota Access Pipeline would pass under the Missouri River one mile from the Reservation’s fresh water intake. The route also crosses sacred Lakota lands. The original route had the pipeline passing near Bismarck, N.D. It was rerouted because of concerns an oil spill would contaminate the capital city’s drinking water. There is clearly less concern about the drinking water for Standing Rock residents.
To get some additional information on why Standing Rock opposes this route, check out this 5-minute video showing how pipeline construction already has brought destruction to Lakota sacred sites. (Thanks to LeMoine LaPointe for the link.)
Several religious denominations and other groups began weighing in on the side of Standing Rock and its allies, even before the violence escalated.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry issued the following statement on Aug. 25 in support of the people of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It concludes:
The people of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are calling us now to stand with Native peoples, not only for their sakes, but for the sake of God’s creation, for the sake of the entire human family, and for the children and generations of children yet unborn. The legendary Sioux Chief Sitting Bull reminds us: “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” There is the urgent need of this calling.
So, while we cannot all physically stand in the Camp of Sacred Stones today, let us hold, both in spoken word and silent prayer, the aspirations of the Sioux people and urge our policymakers to protect and responsibly steward our water, the sacred gift from God that sustains us all.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), issued a statement on Sept. 9. It reads in part:
We recognize the complexity and the deeply personal significance of what is at stake for those living in the area. We have been looking at the situation in light of the Churchwide Assembly action to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, and our church’s long-standing concern for respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations.
We welcome the joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Justice, the Army and the Interior issued on September 9, 2016. We are particularly heartened by the tenor of the statement from the departments and we affirm its concern that it is now “incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.” …
I recognize there are people of deep faith on all sides of this issue with varied perspectives and I pray that we use this time wisely. We need to be in prayer, to express solidarity and to build relationships. We also need to take seriously the concerns of the American Indian community, initiate and/or continue local efforts to strengthen and expand partnerships, and deepen cross-cultural understanding.”
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues also issued a statement on Aug. 31, according to the Associated Press. The story said:
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe must have a say with regard to a $3.8 billion oil pipeline that could disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for 8,000 tribal members, representatives of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said Wednesday.
In a statement, the forum’s chairman Alvaro Pop Ac called on the U.S. to provide the tribe a “fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”
Archeological Review: Minnesota Public Radio ran a story Thursday, Sept. 8 headlined: North Dakota’s chief archaeologist to inspect pipeline site for cultural artifacts. It said North Dakota’s chief archaeologist this week would inspect an area along the Dakota Access pipeline where Standing Rock Sioux officials say they’ve identified cultural artifacts. “If any artifacts are found, pipeline work would cease,” the story said. (This statement was made before the federal government intervened to stop the project, Friday, Sept. 9.)
Lastly, the federal government’s intervention could have been influenced by a question received by President Obama during a visit to Laos. Taking questions from the public, he was asked by an audience member about the indigenous people in North Dakota fighting for clean water. Here is a three minute video of the exchange. Obama did not appear to have been briefed on the issue at the time. He was in Laos Sept 5-8. The administration took its action to stop the Pipeline project on Friday, Sept. 9. (Thanks to Sheldon Wolfchild for this link.)