North Dakota’s Gov. Jack Dalrymple held a press conference today activating the National Guard. In this press conference, below, please note that there are no American Indian journalists except for Chase Iron Eyes who expresses concern about escalating violence as a result of the governor’s decision. The rest of the press corps ask questions that, in my opinion, carry water for the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is a one-sided presentation to the media and our tribes will continue to press our message of why this pipeline needs to be stopped.
Below, I have permission to post in full Jacqueline Keeler’s report today which provides some background.
On Saturday, August 3rd, while most Americans were relaxing into a 3-day Labor Day weekend, an oil company’s private security force loosed dogs upon peaceful Native American protesters trying to stop the destruction of burial sites on the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
This happened just one day after the tribe’s historic preservation officer had filed in court the location of the archaeological site on private land located in the pipeline corridor. The next morning the Dakota Access Pipeline crew were observed moving their heavy construction equipment 15 miles to the site identified in the federal court filing and began to dig and bulldoze the site containing stone cairns with Native American remains. An estimated crowd of 300 followed the crew to the site and were met by a private security force and attack dogs. Eyewitness accounts report that the dogs were so vicious and out of control that they bit pipeline workers and their own handlers, which is why at least one let go of the leash and loosed the dog upon the crowd.
Amy Goodman, veteran journalist and co-anchor of Democracy Now! was on site with a TV crew videotaping the attacks on peaceful protectors (as they preferred to be called). Goodman confronts a female dog handler in this video.
“Ma’am, your dog just bit this protestor. Are you telling the dogs to bite the protestors? The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth.”
Today, the governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, held a press conference and announced he was calling in the National Guard. He chastised demonstrators to obey the law and not “tarnish your message” but made no mention of the well-documented use of vicious dogs on the peaceful Native American people and their allies or the bulldozing of burial sites by Energy Transfer Partners of Texas, owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"If these allegations against the pipeline company are true,” declared Daniel E. Estrin, general counsel & legal director, of Waterkeeper Alliance in a press release, “in the 23 years that I have practiced and taught environmental law, I have never seen such an outrageous, unconscionable, and bad faith abuse of the legal process. It also plainly demonstrates that contrary to the pipeline company’s spin, it is the company, not the tribe, that is the aggressor here.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault was unequivocal in his assessment of the situation when he told the Bismarck Tribune, “They wanted to destroy the proof and evidence; the company knew those sites were there. They don’t normally work on Saturday and Sunday; we know because we’ve been watching them. They desecrated all the land where the landowner gave us permission to look.”
The Obama Administration also agreed that Energy Trust Partners were the ones veering into questionable activity. On Monday the administration supported the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order on construction of the pipeline saying it was warranted.
On Monday, the tribe was granted a partial injunction to stop work on the pipeline but it did not include the archaeological site that had been disturbed. Tomorrow, federal court Judge Boasberg will rule on the tribe’s lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers which charges that the ACOE did not properly consult with the tribe before granting a permit for the pipeline to proceed.
The tribe issued a press release in response to the governor’s calling up the National Guard calling for a peaceful response from supporters, “The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water. There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline.”
The tribe also relayed that Chairman Archambault had spoken to the governor and been assured the National Guard would not enter the camps of Water Protectors on tribal land.
|Jacqueline Keeler is a Navajo/Yankton Dakota Sioux writer living in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in Salon, TeleSUR, Earth Island Journal and The Nation. She is the editor of the upcoming anthology from Torrey House Press, “From the Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for Bears Ears”.