For months, the Standing Rock Sioux have been peacefully protesting the construction of an oil pipeline that they say will poison the water and destroy sacred tribal sites. Lawsuits have been thrown back and forth, but Saturday things turned ugly when the pipeline destroyed burial grounds and attacked the protesters with vicious dogs.
North Dakota’s Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced today that he is activating the National Guard. Not to protect the peaceful protesters who were mauled by attack dogs over the weekend, but to protect the pipeline.
Dalrymple made the announcement in a press conference on Thursday. Daily Kos notes that Chase Iron Eyes was the only journalist present who was of American Indian descent, who argued that the Governor’s decision could lead to even more violence. Here is video of the governor’s announcement, but as Daily Kos writer Navajo points out, “this is a one-sided presentation to the media.”
Jacqueline Keeler wrote a scathing report on the situation. She detailed the atrocities and violence that occurred over the weekend. Sacred sites, including burial sites, were purposefully destroyed with bulldozers. Vicious dogs were sicced on peaceful protesters, bringing back images of Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. At least six people were bitten, including a pregnant woman and a young child. Regarding today’s announcement about the activation of the National Guard, Keeler wrote:
Today, the governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, held a press conference and announced he was calling in the National Guard. He chastised demonstrators to obey the law and not “tarnish your message” but made no mention of the well-documented use of vicious dogs on the peaceful Native American people and their allies or the bulldozing of burial sites by Energy Transfer Partners of Texas, owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
“‘If these allegations against the pipeline company are true,’ declared Daniel E. Estrin, general counsel & legal director, of Waterkeeper Alliance in a press release, ‘in the 23 years that I have practiced and taught environmental law, I have never seen such an outrageous, unconscionable, and bad faith abuse of the legal process. It also plainly demonstrates that contrary to the pipeline company’s spin, it is the company, not the tribe, that is the aggressor here.'”
Following the violent attacks that occurred against the Native Americans on Saturday, the tribe filed a request for a temporary restraining order, which was supported by the Obama Administration. They were also granted a partial injunction that temporarily halted construction on the pipeline in certain areas.
The Standing Rock Sioux issued a press release in the wake of Gov. Dalrymple’s announcement that the National Guard was being activated, calling for protesters to remain peaceful.
The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water. There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault said that he had spoken to the governor and had been assured that the National Guard would not go into any of the Water Protector’s camps.
Federal court Judge Boasberg is set to issue his long-awaited ruling on the tribe’s lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, which alleges that they did not consult the tribe, as required under treaties, before granting permission for construction to begin on the pipeline.
Featured image via Sacred Stone Camp