It was Friday evening, two weeks after the election in the USA, and I was out having dinner with a couple of friends. Naturally, a conversation about the new President came up…
Now, we all know how much press coverage the U.S Presidential Campaign received, it was on every news channel for ten whole months. Whether it was through TV, radio or the internet, we were bombarded with what felt like brainwashing from both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.
I say this because up until that dinner a few weeks ago, I had no idea of the extent of abuse and shocking treatment the Native American people were undergoing in North Dakota with regards to the Pipeline Access issued by ETP.
In actual fact, up until September, the entire world was unaware as to what was actually happening to the Water Protectors (the name the peaceful protestors go by) and their ongoing battle to save their sacred land. The Water Protestors have been a part of the Black Rock Rising Campaign since April 2016 but due to the government trying their level best to keep it under wraps, the media and general awareness was practically non existent. It took the work of the Native Americans themselves to spread news through social media which then caught the attention of freelance journalists.
So, what has been going on in North Dakota over the last 8 months?
Basically ETP (with the backing of the US government) initiated a plan costing $3.7 billion to create the Dakota Access Pipeline. They vowed it was the safest, most efficient way to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. However, the pipe would cut under the Missouri River which is immediately next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (This land was kindly set aside by the Government in 1851 after European and American settlers murdered hundreds of thousands of Native Americans and rid them of their homes.) For the remaining local tribes’ who live in North Dakota, they rely on the river as a source of fresh water which would be contaminated if the plan went ahead. Not to mention, the small amount of land which was left to them, would be invaded once again.
During 2016, over 300 tribes came together to peacefully stand not only for their human rights, but also for the preservation of Mother Nature. Along the way, Water Protectors have been attacked with with batons, tased, shot at with rubber bullets, police dogs have been let loose and they’ve been hosed down with freezing cold water whilst already coping with temeratures below -25. Yet still, they stand strong and unite with not an ounce of violence. They in fact, state that their main defence is prayer.
It’s a prime example of money & power being misused in higher places against the indigenous population, and what for? OIL! Once again!
People should not have to fear their government, it should be the other way round; they’re supposed to be working for us and protecting the country we live in.
In a quote from one of the tribe members, “This issue could have been settled years ago, but we don’t have the money for attorneys to represent us,”
Instead, the government hired 76 law enforcement agencies to fight in what should’ve been a harmless, weapon free protest.
When I was educated about the ongoings a few weeks earlier, I honestly thought that I was witnessing scenes from combat zones in Afghanistan, but nope, this was the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, the Land of the Free!
I could go on and on about the disgusting acts of violence and hatred from Morton County’s Sheriffs, the Governor etc… you only have to read the first few posts on Standing Rock Rising’s Facebook.
Alternatively, I want to focus on the greatness of the Water Protectors, and highlight the positive support they’ve witnessed through the general public.
Two police officers handed in their badges because they refused to be a part of the police brutality and in the image below, you can see their discomfort.
On December 4th, thousands of war veterans flooded into North Dakota to help and acknowledge the cause.
This story of unity and determination is so inspiring and finally, the Water Protectors have some sort of justice.
On 5th December, the government issued a statement halting any further work on the Pipeline Access.
My only concern is whether this will withstand in January, when the man who believes that Climate Change is all a hoax will comes into power – Mr Donald Trump.
I’m not an expert when it comes to politics but what I do know is that he has no regard for Native Americans as a community. In fact the Native American leaders themselves cancelled a planned meeting with Trump after he repeatedly referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.”
Just to pop the cherry on top, Donald Trump has numerous ties with the Dakota Access Pipeline. He has invested between $500,000 and $1 million into ETP ( the guys who want the Pipeline Monstrosity to happen) AND ETP’s chief executive Kelcy Warren donated over $100,000 to Trump for for his presidential campaign.
Somehow, I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the road for our friends in North Dakota but for now, let’s celebrate their victory.
Please share this story, and also check out Standing Rock Rising Facebook page to help out in any way, shape or form!
Let’s BE THE CHANGE.