Welcome to America
While North American families were comfortably eating turkeys in their homes on Thanksgiving, a national holiday intended to reflect and give thanks to Native American tribes that helped the pilgrims, protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline were targets for rubber bullets, tear gas, “less than lethal” weapons and water cannons.
The Sioux Nation took a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline project last April and have been camped out for seven months in what NPR has called the largest gathering of tribes since before the infamous battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Other protestors, or “water protectors,” have also showed up in support.
Land of the Brave
According to sacredstonecamp.org, three tribes have rallied together in support of the cause: ally Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nation citizens. They are the founders of the current Standing Rock camp, or Spirit Camp, called Sacred Stone. They are stationed in Cannonball, ND along the planned path of the pipeline and north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Approximately 1,000 people are camped there right now, despite the subzero temperatures and a harsh winter approaching. Sun., Nov. 23, a gathering of about 400 protestors attempted to clear away the barricade that blocked the only bridge to a local highway. Policemen stationed to enforce the peace in the area fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons at protestors through the night and into the next morning.
Reports confirm that no antagonistic actions on the part of the protestors instigated the attack, though the Morton County Sheriff’s Department claim that protestors were starting fires and exhibited aggressive behavior. Water Protectors have said that the fires were for warmth and that the water cannons had also been directed at protesters—not just the fires.
Some of the injuries included wounds to the head, hypothermia and cardiac arrest. About 40 people had to be transported for medical assistance. A young woman’s arm was nearly blown off when an officer within range threw a concussion bomb at her as she was trying to back away. A friend, also present, posted on Facebook about what happened with photos.
Regardless of the coverage, the Sheriff’s Department’s and protestor’s statements do not match up. Photos and videos taken at the time may shed some light on the discrepancy.
Land of the Free
Sat., Nov. 26, according to CNN, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a letter to leader of the Sioux tribe Dave Archambault ordering the allied nations and activists to vacate the land by Dec. 5. If the camp is not disbanded, the water protectors will face arrest on the grounds of trespassing and violating federal and state law.
The construction of the pipeline has been halted since Sept. 9 as President Obama and the Administration reevaluate the status of permits and adherence to other laws. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has filed two complaints against the federal government as per violation of the Treaties of Fort Laramie in 1851 and 1868 and more recent legislature affirming the rights of the Indian Reservations. Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation responsible for the construction of the pipeline, has also filed court complaints. According to their statement, the federal government had halted the process unlawfully when the Energy Transfer Partners had already obtained permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers.