Photo: A small wooden bridge over an offshoot of the Missouri River recently allowed water protectors to access the base of Turtle Island hill, a sacred area with burial mounds, that is now occupied by police and private security.
The Council of Canadians continues to express its solidarity with the 20,000 water protectors from 600 Indigenous nations now at Standing Rock to oppose the 570,000 barrel per day fracked oil Dakota Access Pipeline.
CBC reports, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that the main camp [named Oceti Sakowin] used by people opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline will be closed by Dec. 5. The camp is on land located just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners has been trying to complete the contentious Dakota Access pipeline.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II has responded, “Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. We ask that all everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands.”
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claim that Oceti Sakowin is located on federal land, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and water protectors assert that it is on unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Joye Braun says, “We have never ceded this land. If the pipeline can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can then declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland. We are here to protect the burial sites here.”
IEN spokesperson Dallas Goldtooth adds, “We are trying to protect land that was taken from us and now we’re being seen as trespassers on our own land. Our people are tired and sick. Our people are done with sacrificing our self-determination for the profits of billionaires. It’s infuriating to look at hills that have our ancestors buried there. Sacred ground, burial mounds, carrying our grandparents. And we’re told that we can’t walk there. That we can’t pray there. That we can’t put our bodies on the line to protect for it. That pain runs deep.”
Oceti Sakowin is located about 4 kilometres north of the Cannon Ball River, directly on the proposed path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Energy Transfer Partners is now positioned to drill underneath Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. The river passes directly through the reservation and a pipeline spill would contaminate the tribe’s drinking water.
Last night the Canadian Press reported, “Grand Chief Terry Nelson of the Southern Chiefs Organization says chiefs and others attended a meeting [on Nov. 26] at the Dakota Tipi First Nation near Portage la Prairie to discuss how to react if the U.S. government clears demonstrators from a camp occupied by the Dakota Access pipeline protesters. Nelson says one option includes blocking access to pumping stations along a pipeline operated by Enbridge, which has plans to acquire a stake in the U.S. pipeline project. After the meeting, Dakota Tipi members held a pipe ceremony on the Trans-Canada Highway near Portage la Prairie, Man., temporarily blocking a lane of traffic.”
Calgary-based Enbridge paid $1.5 billion for a 27.6 per cent stake in the pipeline this past August. The Trudeau government is expected to decide on Enbridge’s proposed 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 tar sands pipeline by this coming Tuesday November 29. That pipeline would pass through Manitoba including near the communities of Brandon, Morden, Winkler and Gretna.
The Council of Canadians first expressed its solidarity with Standing Rock on August 19 and since then our chapters in Regina, Chilliwack, Kent County, Montreal, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Prince Edward Island, Peterborough-Kawarthas, London and Victoria, along with staff in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, have participated in solidarity actions.
On October 30, we sent 1000 pairs of earplugs to the water protectors at Standing Rock given they have been subjected to police use of sound cannons that cause great pain and permanent hearing loss. We have also provided support to assist Indigenous allies to travel from Manitoba and Nova Scotia to Standing Rock as well as to enable them to bring back reports to inform campaigns here against the Energy East, Trans Mountain, Line 3 and other pipelines.