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Support Protesters At Standing Rock, North Dakota

September 28, 2016
Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma with sons Mekasi left and Jeff right. Cowboy and Indian Alliance. Washington D.C. April 22-27 2014. A coalition of cowboys, ranchers, farmers, and native americans from the Ogalla region opposed to the proposed Keystone Pipeline.

Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma with sons Mekasi left and Jeff right. Cowboy and Indian Alliance. Washington D.C. April 22-27 2014.

On the right is Jeff Camp. He and brother Mekasi are on both sides of their mother, Casey Camp-Horinek. In this photo taken two years ago in Washington DC, they are protesting the since-rejected Keystone-XL pipeline that would have bisected the United States from the Canadian shale fields to Houston. Had it been constructed it would have passed within a few miles of my in-law’s property in the town of Western, Nebraska. Nebraska farmers, ranchers and Native Americans, many working in conjunction with a grassroots advocacy organization called “Bold Nebraska” defeated this proposal, finally rejected by the Obama Administration in November, 2015.

The Camps, Jeff, Mekasi and mother Casey, were active and in the center of that movement. They are among the “long-distance runners” so to speak, of the movement for Native American rights with roots of activism, struggle dating back to the American Indian Movement occupation of Wounded Knee in the early 1970s, and before. 

Along with an even broader coalition forces, the Camps are back at it again today trying to stop another pipeline proposal, the Dakota Access Pipeline, which if constructed would run from northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota, central Illinois to  Glenscape’s crude oil storage facility in Patoka Indiana. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), owned by Houston, Texas-based corporation calledEnergy Transfer Partners, L.P. which created the subsidiary Dakota Access LLC. The DAPL, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, is proposed to transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day (which is fracked and highly volatile) from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. In August 2016, the final finances were secured when Enbridge and the Marathon Petroleum Company bought a 2 billion dollar share.

The protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline site have several concerns, among them: concern of pollution of the confluence of the nearby Missouri River with one of its tributaries, the Cannon Ball River; the plowing up of sacred sites in the vicinity; the process by which native peoples were systematically excluded from giving input prior to construction. The great fear is that a break in the proposed pipeline scheduled to run under the Missouri River will pollute the waters to such a degree that they can never be cleaned up, permanently killing all riparian life in the area.

As journalist Sarah Jaffe notes: “What began with a small protest presence last April on the banks of the Cannonball River has expanded to both banks of the river and up the road, to multiple camps that have housed as many as 7000 from all over the world.” Many of them claim not to be protesters but “water protectors.”

As the website Dakota Access Pipeline notes:

Despite pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Dakota Access has failed to consult tribes and conduct a full environmental impact statement. The proposed route crosses the Missouri River at the confluence with the Cannon Ball river, and area that is of utmost cultural and spiritual, and environmental significance. The confluence an important location for the Mandan origin story as the place where they came into the world after the great flood. Where the two waters meet once created Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí, spherical Sacred Stones (thus the colonizers’ term ‘Cannon Ball’), but after the Army Corp of Engineers dredged and flooded the rivers in the 50s, the flow has changed and Sacred Stones are no longer produced. There are historic burial grounds, village grounds and Sundance sites that would be directly impacted. The water of the Missouri River is essential to life on the Standing Rock Reservation as well as all of the nations and states downstream

After U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected a request from Native Americans for a court order to block the project, two and half weeks ago, on September 9, 2016, the Obama Administration stepped in to block the construction on federal land. The company’s license to build the pipeline goes until January 1, 2017. It is the intent of the protesters to stay at Standing Rock and block the project’s progress until the license expires in hopes of ending the project.

red_camp_water_protectors-courtesy_natalie_handProtest’s Vitality: Not The End of Confrontations But The Beginning

Yesterday (September 28, 2016), in what was nothing less than a police-military provocation, 21 protesters were arrested at the Standing Rock protest site. On Tuesday, September 27, a contingent of over “100 water protectors” from the Red Warrior, Oceti Sakowin, and Sacred Stone camps entered a Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) work site to stop construction and conduct prayer ceremonies. While on the construction site, the protesters were not going towards the pipeline construction at the time but away from it, heading to a spot to say prayers in the opposite direction. There should have been no confrontation, but police, state troopers from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, many dressed in combat fatigues and with high-powered rifles, sub-machine guns backed by a military vehicle, a Bearcat armored vehicle, essentially provoked a confrontation, upping the ante  for what is developing into a more polarized and dangerous confrontation.

This is not the end of the confrontation, but the beginning.

Despite this, the protest continues to grow. There are reports of more than 7000 people camped at Standing Rock, many from the Dakotas, but now from all over the country and the world. More than 300 tribes have come together and have coordinated their efforts, including many with more than two years of hostility to one another, now working together for the first time in apparent harmony. Added to this “first” example of broad inter-tribal unity is the coordination with (largely white) regional environmental groups, among them “Bold Nebraska” which played a key role in opposing the Keystone-XL pipeline. Many church groups, schools are involved as well with universities as far as central Kansas and Denver, Colorado (some 700 miles to the South) sending students, faculty, supplies etc.

While it is no small feat to coordinate the activities of 5000+ people camped out on the North Dakota high plains, from all appearances (and reports) the camps and the protests are highly and carefully organized. These protests will continue through January 1, 2017 at the very least and more than likely beyond that date.

There are different ways to support this effort, both materially and financially. Donations of good quality winter clothing, tents, sleeping bags especially for cold weather are badly needed. A local Denver Native American, Sid Quintana and I are seeking donations in kind and cash for Jeff Camp (pictured above), his cousin, Carlos Castenada II and Denver free-lance media specialist Ambrose Cruz. Camp and Castenada are temporarily in Denver, down from the Standing Rock protest site. They have been involved in the Standing Rock organizing effort from the beginning and will return to North Dakota in a few days. Cruz is a fine video filmmaker who operates in an expensive field with essentially no budget to speak of.

For clothing, equipment contributions, contact me (Rob Prince – robertjprince@comcast.net). For financial, cash contributions, contact Sid Quintana @ 720-341-8491. Receipts of all financial actions will be provided.

Support needed, solicited

At a time, when it just been announced that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have just exceeded 400 parts per million, the level which makes global warming and climate change irreversible, the effort to protect the future of life on earth from its consequences takes on, once again, new meaning. The energy, focus, seriousness and organizing genius (for that is what it is) of the Standing Rock protests have already garnered not just domestic, but international attention. and none too soon, because winter is coming to North Dakota.

One can anticipate in the months to come a sharp decline in temperature, Sub-zero weather is not unusual in North Dakota with temperatures reaching -50 or below. (The record low is -60 degrees). With the windchill factor added in, and the wind blows with a special strength across the North Dakota high plains, that figure can go as low as -80 or lower.

There are different ways to support this effort, both materially and financially. Donations of good quality winter clothing,  tents, sleeping bags specially for cold weather are badly needed. A local Denver Native American, Sid Quintana and myself are seeking donations in kind and cash for Jeff Camp (pictured above),  his cousin, Carlos Castenada II and Denver free-lance media specialist Ambrose Cruz. Camp and Castenada are temporarily in Denver. They have been involved in the Standing Rock organizing effort from the beginning and will return to North Dakota in a few days. Cruz is a fine video filmmaker who operates in an expensive field with essentially no budget to speak of.

For clothing, equipment contributions, contact me (Rob Prince – robertjprince@comcast.net). For financial, cash contributions, contact Sid Quintana @ 720-341-8491. Receipts of all financial actions will be provided.

 

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