Native American Youth Protest DAPL Pipeline

In October of 2016, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and about 300 other Native American tribes united to protest building a $3.8 million oil pipeline across sacred land. They believe the 1,100-mile pipeline is a violation of treaty rights and will threaten water quality. They were joined by various unions like National Nurses United and media stars like Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo who kept up a steady tweets to report what they witnessed. Ruffalo said the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) protests were the most peaceful he’s seen, with prayers, sacred dance and singing, and drumming. A slogan was, “We will be peaceful, we will be prayerful, we will not retreat.” Their goal was to stop a company called Energy Transfer Partners from completing the Dakota Access pipeline across private land, Army Corps land and under the Missouri River to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Activists said no proper Environmental Impact Statement was done.

Members of the Indigenous Youth Council and others—around 220 people, camped on the site owned by the company but claimed it as tribal land in order to protest threats to their land and water and to protest police violence. Police left a larger camp alone on federal land near a town called Cannon Ball, south of Bismarck. Thousands of people assembled in camps on Standing Rock Sioux land. To clear protesters from the company’s land, militarized police dressed in riot gear in armored tanks, bulldozers, sound cannons, and security forces with dogs attacked peaceful demonstrators with rubber bullets, beanbag shotgun rounds, pepper spray, tasers, mace, batons, and water cannon, arresting hundreds of people. Protesters set fires to deter police efforts to clear the camp.

Young teens occupied Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Manhattan to ask for her support on DPL, presenting a letter that said silence is not acceptable. Gracey Claymore, age 19, said she came to the headquarters because, “We want her to uphold the treaties and her promise to protect unci maka [Mother Earth].”[i] Another young woman present at the headquarters said, “Young people need to speak up and not be scared of adult leaders. We are left to take care of what they mess up.” The young First Nation activists put up a tipi and drummed and sang inside the headquarters. They were joined by four Oceti Sakowin teens who ran 2,000 from North Dakota to Washington, DC to protest DAPL.

Also during October, Canadian young people protested at Parliament Hill against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline to British Columbia. A McGill University student arrested during the demonstration, Sophie Birks said, “My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights. This starts with rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline….I know that, as young people, we have the power to make some big changes.”[ii]

[i] Deirdre Fulton, “’Silence Is Not Acceptable,’” Common Dreams, October 27, 2016.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/27/silence-not-acceptable-indigenous-youth-demand-clinton-take-stand-dapl

[ii] Nika Knight, “Over 75 Arrested in Ottawa as Youth Demand Climate Action from Trudeau,” Common Dreams, October 24, 2016.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/24/over-75-arrested-ottawa-youth-demand-climate-action-trudeau

Deirdre Fulton, “’Silence Is Not Acceptable,’” Common Dreams, October 27, 2016.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/27/silence-not-acceptable-indigenous-youth-demand-clinton-take-stand-dapl

[1] Nika Knight, “Over 75 Arrested in Ottawa as Youth Demand Climate Action from Trudeau,” Common Dreams, October 24, 2016.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/24/over-75-arrested-ottawa-youth-demand-climate-action-trudeau

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