Water Protectors Lack Needed Legal Help in Court; Updates on Pipeline Leaks; Upcoming Event: Storytelling and Winter Gathering

Hundreds of water protectors were arrested trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now that their court dates are coming up they don’t have adequate legal defense, according to an article in Think Progress. The article, published Dec. 15, starts out:

Trials for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters begin next week, but there aren’t enough attorneys to take their cases. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department lists 264 people who have no lawyer at all, and the 265 people who have been assigned public defense attorneys aren’t receiving adequate counsel.

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ELCA Brings Shareholder Resolution on DAPL to Enbridge, a Major Pipeline Investor

This is the first in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities who are Standing with Standing Rock are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will their investments change?

ELCAThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has taken a formal position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It also is flexing its financial muscle, looking at how its investments are supporting DAPL and asking tough questions of Enbridge, a major DAPL investor.

There is a growing effort to get individuals and institutions to divest from companies tied to DAPL. Divesting is one option outside of the political arena where people can make a difference and vote their values with their money.

The ELCA is a large institutional investor, socking away money for retirement plans for its many employees. It’s the kind of big investor that can influence a corporation. As of the third quarter of 2016, the ELCA had $7.8 billion managed by Portico Benefit Services. (Of that, $6.4 billion was in retirement plans).

The ELCA’s  investments include Enbridge Inc. “whose U.S. vehicle, Enbridge Energy Partners, owns a 27.5% interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” according to Rev. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s President and CEO. According to a statement Rev. Thiemann made to Healing Minnesota Stories on Dec. 8:

Portico just this week, along with several other investors, submitted a shareholder resolution to Enbridge Inc. [regarding DAPL] … This resolution calls on Enbridge to prepare a report to shareholders detailing the due diligence process used by Enbridge, its affiliates, and subsidiaries to identify and address social and environmental risks, including Indigenous rights risks, when reviewing potential acquisitions.

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Videos From and About Standing Rock, and Tribal Victory in Creating the “Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area”

hcmc3Below are links to some videos from and about Standing Rock. There are inspiring interviews with Water Protectors. There is a short interview with a 13-year-old youth leader from Standing Rock right after she learned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) easement. And if you haven’t seen it, there is a link to the Daily Show’s biting take on DAPL. The post ends with an uplifting report from the Native American Rights Fund on the creation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. Continue reading

A Day of Many Messages: DAPL’s Owners Vow to Fight On; Standing Rock Leader Says Time to Break Camp; Signs of Victory, Uncertainty, and Worry Abound

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Moon rise at Oceti Sakowin earlier this fall.

Native rights and environmental groups are sending out congratulatory emails today on the Dakota Access Pipeline. They are celebrating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny an easement to Energy Transfer Partners to drill the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River. The Corps said it would explore alternative routes.

The question now is, What’s next?

The companies which own the Dakota Access Pipeline have sent out a blistering media release vowing to push head with the current project.

Standing Rock Tribal Chair Dave Archambault is telling the Water Protectors to break camp and go home for the winter, according to reports. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also set today as the deadline for people at the Oceti Sakowin Camp — which is on federal property — to leave

Yet many people at the camp don’t trust that the project will stop and are going to stay anyway.

Further, key pipeline players will change soon, both the Governor of North Dakota and the president of the United States. That throws everything up in the air.

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A Tool Box to Explain the DAPL Conflict to Friends, Family, Leaders; Ultimate Irony: Border Patrol Enlisted Against Standing Rock

sign-2The situation near Standing Rock is getting more and more desperate, with Energy Transfer Partners committed to finish drilling under the Missouri before year’s end, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing what amounts to an eviction order for those at the Water Protectors’ main camp.

We need to talk to friends and family, and to our political and religious leaders, to stop the violence, stop the pipeline, and to Stand Up for Standing Rock.

Here are a couple of visuals to help you get some of the main  point across quickly. Continue reading

Vigil for Injured Water Protector; Where to Call; and Critiquing Media Coverage

Vigil outside of HCMC Tuesday night for Sophia Wilansky, a 21-year-old water protector injured by a concussion grenade.

More than 100 people braved a cold evening to hold a vigil Tuesday night for a young water protector who sustained a serious arm injury, the result of ongoing excessive force used against those opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sophia Wilansky, 21 of New York, was carrying water to unarmed people on the front lines when she was struck by a concussion grenade, according to a report in Indian Country Today. She had to be airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center where she underwent a lengthy operation to save her badly damaged arm.

The Indian Country Today story included a statement by Wilansky’s father:

Both her radial and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident—it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her.  …

I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time. I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”

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Vigil at 4 p.m. Today for Water Protector Airlifted to HCMC; More Updates on Injuries

The excessive military response to the Water Protectors in North Dakota continues, this time resulting in serious injury to a woman who was struck in the arm by a concussion grenade. Sophia Wilansky was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) for surgery.

There will be a prayer vigil for her from 4-6 p.m. today outside HCMC, 730 South 8th Street, Minneapolis. Here is the Facebook Page.

Wilansky is 21 years old and from New York, according to a media release from the American Indian Movement. The injury to her arm was so severe it nearly required amputation, and “the extent of the injury is likely to have a devastating impact on her.”

More updates follow. Continue reading

As DAPL Moves Forward, a Reflection on the Power of Words

Words matter.

The label “Sioux,” for instance, is a derogatory term meaning “snake” or “serpent,” derived from Anishinaabe and French words. (See this article in the Lakota Times.) Those in power were able to impose that term on Minnesota native peoples through treaties and reservation names. The term “Sioux” continues to be used for historical reasons, but it is not the preferred term for many.

The proper term for the people referred to as “Sioux” is Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires, according to the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center. It refers to the people of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota nations.

Oceti Sakowin also is the name of the main camp of Water Protectors trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, an effort that has brought native people together from across the country. Continue reading

Say a Prayer for the Water Protectors: President-Elect Trump a Likely DAPL Supporter

Efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have taken a sharp turn for the worse and the potential for more violent conflict has increased.

Say a prayer for the Water Protectors. Continue reading

Local Sheriffs Deputies Pulled from ND; Amnesty, UN Observers at Pipeline Protest; Liability Questions Raised

sign-2Good News: Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington county sheriffs departments have pulled their deputies and equipment out of North Dakota, MPR reports. The deputies had participated in a heavily militarized response against those opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline

The counties had sent their deputies in response to request from the Morton County ND Sheriff’s Department, allowed as part of a mutual aid agreement. Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek’s decision to send deputies sparked local protests. Some state lawmakers spoke out against it, believing this was an inappropriate use of the mutual aid agreement. Some now say they will seek a change in the law next session. According to MPR:

A group of state legislators who met with Stanek say they think the emergency assistance protocols only apply to natural disasters or an attack on the scale of 9/11.

“We have an assignment that we’re going to go back and try and change a couple parts of the law that will make it clearer the distinction between different types of emergencies,” said Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, who met with Stanek, “so we don’t get ourselves in sort of a position again.”

U.N. Group, Amnesty International, Providing Outside Accountability for Law Enforcement Actions at DAPL Protests

More Good News: Outside observers are traveling to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota to monitor the situation and bring some accountability for the harsh military tactics used against the Water Protectors. Continue reading