News reports about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Keystone XL have faded into the background locally, but resistance continues from Standing Rock to Louisiana.
Here are a few updates:
North Dakota prosecutors dropped felony charges against Chase Iron Eyes for criminal trespass and incitement of a riot. The charges stem from DAPL events in early 2017. Iron Eyes was ready to put on a ‘Necessity Defense.’
A federal judge sided with water protectors who challenged the Trump administration’s fast track approval of a reroute of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska.
Louisiana authorities are using harsher trespass laws to prosecute water protectors opposing construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, DAPL’s southern extension. A fund-raising concert is planned in Duluth for Saturday, Oct. 13 to raise money for these water protectors.
To the water protectors who tried to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the fact that law enforcement and security firms coordinated efforts to undermine the camps is old news. For those less familiar, the news site The Intercept is providing new details on the behind-the-scenes surveillance and public relations operations by the government and private security.
The Intercept received leaked documents from a contractor who worked with TigerSwan, a private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to coordinate DAPL security. The Intercept just published its second story in a three-part series.
TigerSwan is largely made up of special operations military veterans, (which tells you a lot about the approach Energy Transfer Partners wanted to take in the conflict). TigerSwan “was formed during the war in Iraq and incorporated its counterinsurgency tactics into its effort to suppress an indigenous-led movement centered around protection of water,” The Interept story said.
The story raises serious questions about law enforcement’s impartiality and the “Surveillance-Industrial Complex.” Continue reading →
Leaked documents paint a disturbing picture about how a private security firm used anti-terrorism tactics against the water protectors who opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a story in the news site “The Intercept.”
The private firm coordinated with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest, the story said. “The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.”
This news comes as DAPL is now fully operational, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambeau is found not guilty of protest-related crimes, and complaints are being investigated against Energy Transfer Partners for failing to follow the rules during DAPL’s construction.
A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.
Internal TigerSwan communications describe the [water protectors’] movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters.
The article is based on more than 100 internal documents leaked by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as more than 1,000 documents obtained through public records requests, the story said. Documents obtained “also suggest that TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.”
At best, the story makes a technical point. At worst, the headline casts DAPL opponents in an unfair light, claiming they are “misstating” the facts — that is, misrepresenting them or even lying. The story certainly misses the larger political picture. Continue reading →
It is not surprising that a historical reenactment of a Native man’s public hanging would spark outrage, what is surprising is that those organizing the event wouldn’t see it coming and ask for a dialogue with Native peoples before moving ahead.
This incident comes from Pennsylvania, but it raises larger questions of who gets to say what is offensive and what is not.
In this case, where white people might see a benign history lesson, Native people can see and experience trauma. The reenactment sent a message that Native people are “less than” and gave permission to yell racial slurs.
This incident echoes the debate we have had here in Minnesota about whether or not to remove offensive art in the Capitol. In both cases, the challenge is the same: How do those people in the majority put down their defenses, open their hearts, and listen to and honor the pain suffered by those with little power or voice?
Standing Rock is becoming a national model for opposing oil pipelines. Read a story about a oil pipeline controversy in other parts of the country and it will reference DAPL or Standing Rock.
For example, here is a Jan. 4 story from Folio Weekly, a Florida-based magazine, with the headline: Florida’s Own STANDING ROCK. It concerns the Sabal Trail Transmission, a gas pipeline that crosses Alabama, Georgia and Florida. According to the story:
The $3.2 billion project crosses 13 counties in Florida and more than 700 bodies of water, including the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers. The EPA approved the project despite its concerns about the pipeline’s path through 177 acres of conservation areas, including the Green Swamp and Rainbow Springs in Florida. …
Similar to Standing Rock, people in Florida worry about the potential leaks and their impact on drinking water. Pipeline opponents have adopted the Standing Rock term “water protectors” and created a Water Is Life Camp near the Santa Fe River.
Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribe also is fighting a pipeline battle, according to a Jan. 6 MPR story:
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council voted Wednesday to refuse to renew several easement rights of way for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that expired in 2013….
Minnesota is about to face a pipeline battle that could be similar to what we have seen just west of us with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The project is called Enbridge Line 3, and while technically it is being called a “replacement project,” Enbridge is proposing it follow a new route for much of its path in Minnesota.
Currently, Line 3 carries tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Duluth/Superior, entering the state near the northwest corner. The line is old and leaky. The proposed new route would turn south near Clearbrook and take a more southerly route to Superior. It also would increase carrying capacity.
These oil pipeline projects seem to put a disproportionate burden on Native peoples. Both the old Line 3 route and the new route cross treaty protected lands in Minnesota. Honor the Earth, a group dedicated to creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues, developed a Fact Sheet (with a map) on Line 3. It starts out:
Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, through the heart of Anishinaabe territory and some of the best lakes and wild rice beds in the world. …
For us, on the White Earth reservation in northwestern Minnesota, these pipelines threaten our community, and our way of life. These lines would cross pristine aquatic ecosystems. This land and this water are precious and they are endangered.
Line 3 hasn’t got much attention compared to DAPL. That could change this spring when the state issues the Environmental Impact Statement on the project. That will trigger a round of public comment and more activism.
There are several upcoming events to learn more about DAPL and Enbridge Line 3.
Today is the anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, an incident that resulted in U.S. soldiers getting the nation’s highest military honor for killing Lakota men, women and children who were trying to surrender. As a 2014 opinion piece in Native News Online summarizes: some 150 Lakota people, and possibly up to 300, were massacred by the US 7th Calvary Regiment near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It continues:
History records the Wounded Knee Massacre was the last battle of the American Indian war. Unfortunately, it is when most American history books drop American Indians from history, as well. As if we no longer exist.