DAPL Update: Nonviolent Peaceforce Sends Team to North Dakota, Will Train More Volunteers

Between court challenges and cold weather, the conflicts around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are in a temporary lull. Still, the Water Protectors’ civil disobedience has stirred increased hostility toward Native Americans in the region. They are experiencing harassment and threats in the Mandan/Bismarck area, according to the group Nonviolent Peaceforce.

Nonviolent Peaceforce is responding with plans to send unarmed, nonviolent civilian protectors to try to open constructive dialogue. The group’s mission is to “protect civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies,” and “build peace side by side with local communities,” according to its website. It has headquarters in Brussels and the Twin Cities.

Until now, Nonviolent Peaceforce only has worked in foreign countries. It currently has teams in the Philippines, South Sudan, Myanmar and the Middle East. Its work in North Dakota will be the first time it has a presence on U.S. soil.

According to an email announcement:

As our supporters, you have asked us many times, “When will [Nonviolent Peaceforce] start working in the US?” That time has come.

In mid November, Nonviolent Peaceforce’s board decided to send a team to North Dakota for at least two months. The team consists of two of its most veteran civilian protectors (Thiago Wolfer from Brazil and Martha Hernandez of Colombia) along with Pam Costain, a community leader and former Minneapolis School Board member. The team’s first goal will be to meet with a variety of people in the area and begin building relationships.

According to the announcement:

As with all our missions, we are not taking sides in the conflict and we are not imposing solutions. Rather, through building relationships with all the stakeholders involved in the conflict at Standing Rock, our peacekeepers will work to erode barriers and create space for dialogue.

With the recent decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to deny easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the need for civilian protection has shifted from the Standing Rock camps to the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. Tensions are high in these adjacent cities and while hate crimes have increased everywhere in the United States, Native Americans and other people of color are experiencing a major increase of harassment and threats of violence. …

Nonviolent Peaceforce also has been asked to help protect the legal team representing water protectors. It is currently trying to raise money to support staff and volunteers to bolster this work. Before year’s end, it hopes to begin training volunteers committed to put in at least one week of service. Its goal is to train 30 volunteers by January 21. The organization is not currently seeking additional volunteers.

Dalrymple, Archambault Meet

Between court challenges and cold weather, the conflicts around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are in a temporary lull. Efforts are underway to repair strained relationships between the state of North Dakota and the Standing Rock Nation, according to a Minnesota Public Radio report.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II met to try to find ways to reduce tension between the Water Protectors and the police. Dalrymple called the meeting “constructive,” according to the report. (It also noted that prosecutor Ladd Erickson wants the hundreds of people arrested for opposing the pipeline to pay the state for their court-appointed attorneys. That’s not a particularly conciliatory gesture, especially considering the provocations on the part of DAPL security and law enforcement.)

Archambault is quoted as saying: “We’re not opposed to energy development — we’re just asking that you don’t do it off our backs.”

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