beyond the pipeline: part one
In the first part of our coverage of the peaceful resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, writer Kate Bould looks at the wider context and considers what can and still needs to be done.
Photographer Amber Mahoney and writer Kate Bould traveled to Standing Rock in North Dakota to spend time with the water protectors who have been, and continue to, peacefully resist the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite the recent success — the Army Corps of Engineers denied a key permit to the company behind the oil pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners — the fight to protect Standing Rock and its people continues. In part one of their coverage, Kate describes the movement happening at Standing Rock, but also looks beyond, to the historical subjugation of Native Americans and the wider racism at play. This is not just a moment in modern times, she points out, and there is nothing simple about the circumstances — the implications are manifold.
Tomorrow, in part two, we hear directly from the water protectors — about their reasons for being at Standing Rock, what the movement means to them and what they want the world to know about it.
I keep hearing the word 'revolution' paired with pictures of fists in the air, people dazed with clouds of mace, celebrating a big win for peaceful resistance after what feels like ages of struggle. I'm still seeing a lot of videos of polyester police uniforms in passing, narrated by screams and rubber bullets, captioned with words like 'protests' and 'clashes'. Outside of the footage and the grainy cell phone photos, I'm seeing a lot of 60s-style artwork: 'stand with the sacred', 'defend the water', 'Dear Mother Earth', and a lot of reposts and all-caps text taking up white space on my social feed. I'm seeing a lot of celebrating and a lot of stalling, a lot of stopping and a lot of quieting down. The Army Corps of Engineers may have blocked a key permit that would allow drilling under the Missouri River. But already the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, have filed with the courts to have the ruling overturned.
The situation at Standing Rock appears to be a current situation, a movement, a revolution. What happened and is still happening at Standing Rock is not a current situation. It's not brief, it's not a picture, or a video, or a shared graphic. It's not only hands in the air, it's not only a reaction to the election, it's not only another example of ill-intentioned media, not only police brutality, not only about the earth, not only about racism, not only about human rights; it's not only a moment in history, a photograph in time. It's not 'done.'
Peaceful resistance won, but in this instance, a victory does not signify an end.
This movement has been in the works since Europeans carelessly and brutally colonised the Native American land and its people. Long before the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, Native American people have not only been fighting for their right to have a home, but also for their right to live, and to be heard.
Fast forward to 2014, and DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) plans are announced. Fast forward to 2016, when we all finally started talking about it. What we each began to see as a necessary revolution, a manifestation and display of gross human rights violations, is part of a long and toxic cycle of mistreatment of, and disrespect towards, Native American people.
The Dakota Access pipeline is a significant, but small, piece of a larger puzzle. We hope, that through this project, you are able to understand that this goes far beyond the pipeline, and far beyond this chaotic year. This goes far beyond this one instance at Standing Rock and far beyond the expected fight to come when Donald Trump becomes President next year.
We hope, that through this project, we can humanise a culture that has so often been reduced and fetishised. The characters here, the faces that you'll recognise from articles you've read, are actually the faces of survivors, water protectors, activists, mothers, workers, elders, traditionalists, teens, skateboard kids, progressives, jingle dress dancers, environmentalists, and above all, people. People that deserve humane treatment, safety, respect, care, a home, a school, and a space to restore and protect a culture that has so often been dragged through the barbaric and elitist process of westernisation.
From here on out, we have to educate ourselves on this situation and this instance in which peaceful resistance won. When so many Americans are calling anti-Trump protesters whiny and overdramatic, this is a pretty big deal — this is hope.
However, the 20th of January and the inauguration of Donald Trump, is coming hard and fast. This means that we will have to keep an eye on the rerouting of the DAPL, amongst a slew of other things. When Trump, and those he's appointed, come into office, we will need to step up and be the government that won't stand up for us.
Let's please allow Native Americans the right to celebrate and to feel safe, but as for the rest of us, let's keep our heads down and keep fighting. Keep organising, calling and putting pressure on the bank investors and Energy Transfer Partners to reroute or put a total end to the pipeline. Keep rallying, putting in calls and adding pressure to the Morton County Police Department to drop the charges against over 550 water protectors. Keep rallying and pushing for Native American rights. Standing Rock is merely an example of what Native Americans, along with many people of colour, face on a regular basis. This is not one fight to be won.
Keep donating to the legal collective while they are still fighting this fight. Keep calling the Morton County Police Department to demand an end to police brutality. Keep donating to all of the people who gave up their homes to live and fight for a better future. Remember that the DAPL was rerouted, but not because Energy Transfer Partners or its investors wanted it to be — they are already asking the US district court to overturn the ruling. We have to continue to stand up to the people and corporations that see this as a minor obstacle. Remember that it wasn't until recently that our President-elect, Trump, sold his share in the project. If it's easier for him to keep DAPL on Army Corps land, he will do exactly that.
The DAPL is the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline is the project and property of Energy Transfer Partners, who are determined to use it to transport crude Bakken oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock reservation sits on Army Corps land that through the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, was deemed home to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes, and now includes many others from all over the United States. The pipeline is not directly on Reservation land but does run under the water source that flows downstream and is used by their community.
The pipeline was and still is problematic for a variety of reasons.
1. The Army Corps did not properly consult the Standing Rock tribes about the construction, which they are legally obligated to do when sacred or historical land is involved.
2. If the pipeline leaks and infiltrates the water and life source of the Standing Rock community, as well as any other communities downstream, it could have severe impacts. Think the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
3. North Dakota has had over 270 unconfined oil spills in the last 12 months alone, which indicates that concerns over water pollution are not misplaced.
4. The pipeline was originally set to go through the predominantly white city of Bismarck. Citizens voiced concerns and the pipeline was rerouted to Native American lands. In its most basic form, racism is protecting white lives at the expense of brown lives.
You can educate yourself on the timeline and history of this project here.
So what can I do?
Call these numbers and demand they drop the outlandish charges against water protectors. Keep putting pressure on the various parties involved to ensure that they do not target Standing Rock Reservation land again in January.
National Guard: 701.333.2000
North Dakota Governor's Office: 701.328.2200
Army Corps of Engineers: 202.761.8700
Department of Justice: 202.514.2000
Morton County Sheriff's Department: 701.328.8118 and 701.667.3330
Energy Transfer Partners (the people building the pipeline): Lee Hanse (Executive Vice President) 210.403.6455. Glenn Emery (Vice President) 210.403.6762 Michael Waters (Lead Analyst) 713.989.2404
White House Comment Line: 202.456.1111
Call one of these banks that back the DAPL and urge them to completely pull funding. Let them know that what they supported was NOT okay.
Keep calling. Go through the list and call until you get through to each of them. Don't be nervous, you're not alone.
Email the DOJ office and demand the charges against water protectors be dropped. DOJ@USDOJ.gov
1. Have a letter writing/calling party and get in touch with any and all of the above contacts.
2. Coordinate a sit-in at one of the banks that are still financing the DAPL (please research your legal rights prior).
3. Organise a rally in your local community, make signs, and let as many people know as possible! Get out there and take the streets peacefully.! Fight Use non-violent action to fight for Native American rights, to fight for the rights of People of Colour, to fight for the environment, to fight against police brutality, to fight against racism.
4. Read a lot and share a lot; keep this conversation going!
Organisations that you can help that are helping out:
1. Native American Rights Fund: fighting for Native American rights
2. Campaign Zero: working to end police brutality
3. Stand with Standing Rock: give directly to Standing Rock
4. Water Protector Legal Collective: on-site legal collective fighting for the rights of water protectors
5. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund: the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's DAPL fund
6. Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (Defenders of the Water School): school within the camp that focuses on traditional as well as indigenous education
7. Sacred Stone Camp: this directly funds Sacred Stone Camp, one of the Standing Rock Camps
8. Sacred Stone Legal Defense: legal defence fund specifically for the Sacred Stone Camp
10. Red Warrior Legal Defense: legal fund specifically for the Red Warrior Camp
11. Oceti Sakowin Camp: directly funds the Oceti Sakowin Camp
12. Winterize Water Protectors Camp: provides supplies in preparation for winter
13. Wiyan Healing Wellness Space: healing safe space
14. Medic and Healer Supply List: directly buys supplies for the medic and healer tents on-site
15. Frankie + O'Shea's Teepee: directly support the winterisation of Frank + O'Shea's teepee (two of the men in this project)
16. Earth Lodges at Standing Rock: directly funds the construction of a sustainable village at Standing Rock. This fund is extremely crucial in continuing to support the Standing Rock community as the front lines move off of the land and into the courtroom.
Please be aware when sending that you are directing to the correct camp. There is Sacred Stone Camp, Oceti Sakowin Camp, Rosebud Camp, etc. Please either find a contact there and/or the correct address for that specific camp.
Read and share.
No DAPL Syllabus Project
Standing Rock and its camps/inhabitants are peaceful and prayerful. They are not called 'protestors', they are called 'water protectors'. The front lines are not 'marches' or 'riots', they should actually be called 'actions', which are prayers and sacred ceremonies focused on protecting the land.
Oceti Sakowin Camp should never be said without the word camp at the end.
If you go to the camps: come prepared, be ready to work, and bring any supplies that you financially can.
No pictures are allowed unless you have gone through the process of acquiring a media pass from the media tent. In order to acquire a pass, you must have an assignment, a letter from the editor, and contact information for the editor.
Upon arrival, please check- in at the volunteer camp, and attend the first possible action training orientation. It will orient you as to the camp layout, what's okay and what's not, what an action looks like, and what you can offer to the community.
Do not take pictures of the sacred fires on camp. There are two fires that are constantly burning, which will be pointed out to you at orientation.
*In advance, we would like to apologise if we have used any incorrect terminology, spelling, or descriptions. Our intention here is to educate while constantly learning from those around us.*
A collaborative project led by Amber Mahoney
Photography Amber Mahoney
Text Kate Bould