The Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting for months, trying desperately to stop the construction of an oil pipeline. One of the reasons they are opposed to the pipeline is because there are sacred sites which lie directly in its path that would be destroyed. Despite their protests and the lawsuits they of filed, construction continues. On Saturday, the oil company brought in bulldozers that plowed through graves and sacred prayer sites. Bulldozers.
On Friday, the tribe filed a list of sacred sites with the court. These sites, which include burial sites, hold special cultural significance and face complete destruction if construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline is allowed to continue. On Saturday, the oil company said “f*ck your culture” and bulldozers plowed through several of these sacred sites, even the graves, with complete and utter disregard for the Native heritage they were desecrating.
Tribal Chairman David Archambault II blasted the “brazen” destruction of these sites in a scathing press release and asked the court to take action to help the tribe.
On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.
Archambault added that “after the initial destruction Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline returned to the area and dug up additional grounds in the pre-dawn hours Sunday.”
“I surveyed this land and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites. Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely,” said Tim Mentz, the Standing Rock Sioux’s former tribal historic preservation officer.
The “devastating” destruction lead the tribe to file an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access on Sunday The request also seeks for construction on the pipeline to be halted while they await the ruling on a preliminary injunction that is expected to come this week.
The annihilation of sacred sites was not the only abhorrent act conducted by the oil company this week. On Saturday, the same day these sites were desecrated, private security officers showed up with dogs and viciously attacked the protesters. At least six people were mauled, including a pregnant woman and a small child.
A separate motion filed with the court by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, who has been permitted to intervene in the case, also sought a temporary restraining order against the company due to the violent attacks that occurred over the weekend.
Site protectors of all ages, outraged at Dakota Access’s clear intent to engage in construction while knowingly destroying sacred sites identified earlier in the week, attempted to halt construction and preserve evidence. In a calculated response, Dakota Access hired a paramilitary security force to attack the site protectors, including women, children, and the elderly with vicious and dangerous breed dogs, such a Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, not trained for security service. Dakota Access paramilitary squad used canisters of tear gas, and pepper spray against the site protectors. A number of the site protectors were injured by the pepper spray and gas, and bitten by the vicious attack dogs.
Despite the holiday, Judge James E. Boasberg stepped in on Monday and ordered an emergency hearing to take place on Tuesday at 3pm.
You can watch Tim Mentz discuss the sacred sites that were destroyed with bulldozers over the weekend, here:
Featured image via Sacred Stone Camp