November 3rd, 2016
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
“Water is life. By leading a transition to energy that is powered by the sun, the wind and water, we ensure a better future for all of our people and for future generations.” ~ Navajo leader Johns
The conflict unfolding at Standing Rock is certainly nothing new for Native Americans. Throughout the history of what we now call the United States, Native Americans have been on the receiving end of extreme injustice, racism, and persecution — much of which was a result of indigenous peoples defending the environment and their traditional way of life. It’s no different today.
Since April of this year, over 500 Native American tribes have taken a stand against the desecration of their sacred ancestral sites and an important water source — the Missouri River — from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) — a $3.8 Billon dollar project — which, if successfully built, will threaten both.
Mark Ruffalo, who is an active voice against fracking and Big Oil, has joined the ranks of those fighting against this business as usual, profit over people stance that ransacks the environment without a backward glance. He arrived at the frontline of the conflict in Cannon Ball, North Dakota to report firsthand on how events have taken a surreal and frightening turn as local officers and police from seven states clash with protesters.
Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas and Human Rights Violations
Last Thursday, the protest at Standing Rock escalated to disturbing levels that involved police from seven states, armored vehicles, and riot and military gear — all brought in to clear the “1851 Treaty” camp, which stood directly in the path of the DAPL project. “Tipis and sweat lodges were destroyed. Vehicles were set ablaze. More than 140 protesters were arrested.”
While the county sheriff claimed the water protectors were becoming violent,“…hours of live video feed from people caught in the confrontation showed instead a military-style assault on unarmed people: police beating people with batons, police with assault rifles, chemical mace, guns firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, tasers,” reports Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn of Yes! Magazine.
Apparently, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a State of Emergency over the Standing Rock protests. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) was established 20 years ago to draw-in resources and troops from other states for natural disaster relief. There have been only two instances where it has been used for protests — the Baltimore rebellion over the murder of Freddie Gray and now Standing Rock. Many feel Gov. Dalrymple’s declaration was a massive misuse of funding and power.
Over 400 water protectors have been arrested since April. Videos and reports describe extreme humanitarian abuses of the protesters, including: bites by attack dogs, pepper spray, beatings, strip searches, confinement in dog kennels due to lack of cell space, marking of numbers on skin, waterboarding and “zip-tying people in contorted positions for hours at a time.” Women who have been arrested say they were placed in jail cells without clothing and harassed by male prison officers. Amnesty International classifies these practices as “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (CID),” which is illegal under international and U.S. law.
Moreover, police are specifically targeting journalists and medics — the former because they bring attention to police brutality and human rights infractions, the latter because medics make it possible for injured protesters to continue the fight.
When Mark Ruffalo arrived at the frontline of the protest, he found a hostile and militarized police force confronting peaceful protestors, many of which were engaging in prayers and sweat lodges.
Mark Ruffalo on the status of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest
Video: Mark Ruffalo visited the Dakota Access pipeline protest and discusses his experience with Jake Tapper.
Standing Rock: Showing Us a Better Way
“Around the world, more than 80 percent of the forests and lands with protected waterways and rich biodiversity are held by indigenous tribes. This is no coincidence,” Ruffalo said. “As so many of us suffer from polluted water, air and land in our rural and urban communities, the water defenders at Standing Rock are showing us another way.” [source]
In the same spirit of protecting the environment, Ruffalo and Native Renewables founder Wahleah Johns just presented Sioux tribal elders with mobile solar collection arrays to power medical tents and other critical facilities with clean energy.
“This pipeline is a black snake that traverses four states and 200 waterways with fracked Bakken oil,” said Ruffalo. “We know from experience that pipelines leak, explode, pollute and poison land and water. But it doesn’t have to be that way.” Ruffalo is also co-founder of The Solutions Project, an organization that works to transition society toward clean and renewable sources of energy.
Tara Houska, national campaign director for Honor the Earth, a Native environmental group, leaves us with this final thought:
“All we can tell you is that we will be here until the end, and we will do everything in our power to protect this land, this water, and all the beings who depend on it. We cannot express to you the courage, dedication, and passion in the hearts of the people. You are seeing the videos and images and hearing the stories, but you really have to be here to feel it. This is a war. People are willing to die for this. Five hundred years of oppression is enough.”
North Dakota DAPL — Dallas Gold Tooth 10/27/16
Six Ways You Can Show Solidarity with Standing Rock
Contact the 17 banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Donate items to the Sacred Stone Camp supply list.
Sign the White House petition to halt DAPL .
Contact the people who sent militarized police to Standing Rock.
Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp legal defense fund.
Have a look at this article from The Free Thought Project for additional ideas to help those at Standing Rock fight the pipeline.
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About the author:
Carolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.
Through her website Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. You can also follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.