Category: Dakota Access (page 1 of 3)

The desperate fight spearheaded by North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Big Oil to save water and sacred indigenous lands. Known as the largest gathering of indigenous tribes since “Custer’s Last Stand” 140 years ago, native peoples and activists across the world flock to this Peace Garden State to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Might And Money Win Again 

As pipelines leak, and Bakken soil is poisoned, North Dakota politicians snuggle closer to oil tycoons

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– The collusion between might and money historically has been the beginning of the end for countless empires. 

From China’s Shang Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago to the American Revolutionary War against a corrupt monarchy, when power marries money, downfall always follows.  

North Dakota government’s collusion with private corporations is “so expansive that there does not appear to be a sense in the general public where there is anything wrong with this,” Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition said. 

It was the same when ancient China’s King Zhou Xin created a pond filled with wine to float on, or when King George III raised taxes on the colonies to fill royal coffers. Both leaders, at the pinnacle of empire, decided not to listen to what was right, but to what they thought was profitable. 

No ethics committees or commissions exist within the Peace Garden State. Instead, the North Dakota Century Code leaves ethical decisions up to the individual.

“The resolution of ethical problems must rest largely in the individual conscience… to resist influences that may bias a member’s independent judgment,” North Dakota legislation reports. 

Today, the Dakota Access Pipeline is leaking, and the Bakken earth is poisoned. Politicians are welcoming slick-talking oil tycoons like conquering heroes. Despite a United Nations condemnation of state militarized tactics in March, little, if anything, has changed in the Peace Garden State. Hundreds the 761 activists arrested during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy still await trial, adding to the approximately $38 million the state has already spent militarizing local police and quelling the disquiet outside of Standing Rock. And while litigation continues, it’s business as usual for state politicians. 

On April 19 Valley News Live “Point of View” Anchor Chris Berg posted pictures of Congressman Kevin Cramer R-ND, ceremoniously giving Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren the pen President Trump used to sign the DAPL executive order. Additionally, Berg thanked Warren online for traveling to the Peace Garden State, and asked Governor Doug Burgum – not for the first time – if the state would accept a fat check from the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. 

Pictures of Rep. Kevin Cramer presenting Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren with pen President Trump used to sign the DAPL executive order – photo listed on POVnow Facebook page

It is a move many suggest is similar to the age of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency collusion with the federal government. Warren continues to offer to pay in full the state’s expenditures used in militarizing police and cracking down on Standing Rock and the No DAPL movement. 

So far, the offer has not been rejected by state politicians.

North Dakota will receive up to $15 million in federal funding for costs incurred during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, according to Governor Burgum’s office. 

“We’re committed to pursuing all avenues available to hold the federal government responsible and ensure that North Dakota taxpayers alone don’t bear the enormous costs of law enforcement and other resources expended on the protests,” Burgum said. 

Rep. Kevin Cramer and Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren – photo posted on POVnow Facebook page

Burgum also sent a letter to President Trump stating that the federal government is significantly responsible for costs due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to enforce regulations. 

“Ethically, it has all the appearances – it has a smell to it – it seems to be undue influence of one industry, one company, on federal and state governments, and you want to believe the government is there to make sure all sides of the issue are addressed,” Nelson said.  

During the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, the state was not looking out for all sides of the dispute, rather to assist oil industry’s agenda, Nelson said. 

“It’s one thing when it feels like collusion between a government official, in this case Kevin Cramer, and a corporate head of a private industry, in this case a pipeline company, if the general public feels all of this was perfectly justified, then what is considered right and wrong anymore? It makes you step back. The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition believes that this kind of collusion between private industry and government is wrong. Good cannot come out of this. 

“It speaks so much about power and money against the people.” 

Bakken earth is poisoned, according an April 27, 2016 study released by Duke University, funded by the National Science Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and published in the Environmental Science & Technology magazine. The study shows that accidental wastewater spills from “unconventional oil production in North Dakota have caused widespread water and soil contamination.” 

Much of the poisons come from brine, or saltwater used in frakking, and is non-biodegradable. 

More than 9,700 wells have been drilled in the Bakken region of North Dakota in the past decade, which led to more than 3,900 brine spills, primarily from faulty pipes, the report states.

The water studied in some spill sites was unsafe to drink, the study reported.

High levels of ammonium, selenium, lead, and salts have been found in the soil; streams have been polluted by wastewater, which contain contaminants, according to the study. Soil along spill sites has also been contaminated with radium, a radioactive element.

“Many smaller spills have also occurred on tribal lands, and as far as we know, no one is monitoring them,” Avner Vengosh, a researcher and a professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University said. “People who live on the reservations are being left to wonder how it might affect their land, water, health and way of life.”

The spills are primarily coming from pipelines in the Bakken area, he said. The spill areas have not affected reservoirs for human drinking water, but some are close. Everyone shudders when news of an oil spill breaks headlines; brine spills are far more frightening, he said.

“Nature cannot heal from inorganic brine spills,” Vengosh said. “The contaminants are going to stay. You can dilute and over time this will help, but the actual concentration will remain.”

In other words, areas where the brine spills have occurred in the Bakken region must be completely removed and disposed of. Radiation, which could spread by wild animals, is another concern that is difficult to control.

“And the more wells you drill, the more spills you have,” Vengosh said..

The narrative spun by the state has assumed that the need for militarized security was because of out-of-state environmental terrorists who chose to stake their claim here, Nelson said. “So no responsibility is placed on bad decisions made by the state legislators, that the company violated laws and did things that were illegal. None of that is laid at their doorstep. All is on the doorstep of people coming from around the country, and locally from Standing Rock. 

“It’s blaming the rape victim that they got raped.”

Additionally, the 1,100-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline, made from “sterner stuff” according to politicians and engineers, and with Russian steel, according to DeSmog, has already leaked 84 gallons in South Dakota. A storage tank outside of Keene, North Dakota spilled 25,620 gallons when an operator overfilled the tank, according to North Dakota Department of Health. 

Both spills took investigators a month to announce the mishaps to the public.

“This spills serves as a reminder that it is not a matter of if a pipeline spills, it’s a matter of when a pipeline spills,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said. “The fact that this occurred before Dakota Access even becomes operational is all the more concerning. We fear more spills will come to bear, which is an all too frequent situation with Energy Transfer Partners pipeline projects. As such, eyes of the world are watching and will keep Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Partners accountable.”

Although most of the world thinks Standing Rock’s movement is dead, remnants remain. For months, Facebook statuses reported former Dakota Access Pipeline activists, or water protectors, felt lost after the February closing of the camps outside Standing Rock. Dozens of cases have been thrown out of court, but not all. 

Some water protectors are still wandering. Others have found new causes defending water at Flint, Michigan, Dresden, Ohio, and against the Piñon Pipeline in New Mexico. Activists have also set up the Four Band Great Sioux Nation Camp on Standing Rock land.

The movement against big oil, for native rights and clean water, has spurred at least fifteen new camps to life around the country, according to Rev. Karen Van Fossan, a minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship & Church of Bismarck-Mandan. 

A “Stand with Standing Rock” banner hangs outside her church, a congregation that has been in Bismarck for 65 years. During the controversy her church and church members housed at least 250 activists. The stance her church takes on the issue has created controversy in Bismarck she said, but is also a blessing in disguise. 

“Some of us who are white, and haven’t experienced racism in any kind of real way, have now had some glimpse of what that experience might be like,” Fossan said. 

“In my experience, the water protector movement has given us in North Dakota an opportunity to face some pretty harsh realities about racism in our state. I sometimes hear it said that race relations are more strained now than they have been in some time, and people of color who I know tell me actually, the racism has been there. 

“Now it is just that all of us are taking the opportunity to look at it and contend with it.” 

State support of big business has trampled indigenous rights, but has given the state a unique opportunity for change. 

“I have been increasingly concerned about the role of many governmental entities, locally and statewide, promoting the interests of business and painfully ignoring other voices,” Fossan, who is also a writer, said. 

“Even while I’m deeply disturbed by the executive order to push the pipeline through against the very clear voices of Standing Rock and many other native nations, I do see that here locally in Bismarck and Mandan, we continue to have an opportunity like we haven’t had in a long time to look at the reality of life in our communities, and the reality of racism. Not just personal visible racism that many indigenous people and people of color in our communities experience regularly, but the systems themselves are already rolling along in ways that at best ignore indigenous voices and at worst push a pipeline through, and manifest in the arrests of hundreds of people.”

Armed DAPL Mercenary Arrested in Bismarck

Dakota Access LLC security guard disguised as water protector who tried to ram car into Standing Rock main camp in 2016 faces drug and gun concealment charges 

By C.S. Hagen
BISMARCK
– The disguised DAPL security guard set free by law enforcement last year after reportedly driving crazily toward the main No DAPL camp armed with a semi-automatic AR-15, was arrested Tuesday on unrelated charges, according to police. 

Kyle Thompson mugshot – Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department

Kyle James Thompson, 30, was arrested at 8:03 p.m. Tuesday for simple assault domestic violence, carrying a concealed weapon, and for possession of schedule I, II, and III drug paraphernalia, according to the Burleigh County arrest records. By Wednesday afternoon the domestic abuse charge was dropped, leaving two Class A misdemeanor charges: carrying a concealed firearm in his vehicle, and possessing drug paraphernalia, namely syringes and spoons, to consume methamphetamine, according to the Burleigh County Clerk of Court.

Bismarck Police Officer David Haswell stopped Thompson’s car on East Broadway Avenue in Bismarck for a welfare check, according to Clerk of Court records. “Police were notified by witnesses that a male subject was hitting a female subject in the car,” Haswell reported. “I made contact with the driver, Kyle Thompson, and asked him to exit the vehicle. While he exited the vehicle I noticed a handgun concealed between the driver seat and the center console.”

Thompson’s DAPL security badge taken from pickup truck – online sources

In the backseat, Thompson allegedly also had a rifle, Clerk of Court documents reported. Officers also located a small zipper case inside the vehicle with multiple syringes, spoons, a white residue, a grinder with residue, and a glass smoking device, Clerk of Court documents said. 

“The capped needles field tested positive for methamphetamines,” Haswell wrote. “Thompson does not have a concealed carry permit.” 

Nearly six months ago when law enforcement took over the Standing Rock’s Treaty Camp, pitched in the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route, Thompson was arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs agents after activists slammed a vehicle into his pickup truck. He was disguised as a “water protector” in a t-shirt and bandana covering his face. A short foot pursuit ended in a pond near the camp where according to video reports and interviews with activists, Thompson fired his weapon twice. 

In November 2016, Thompson and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation found no evidence that Thompson fired his weapon. Documents linking Thompson to Thompson-Gray LLC, a security firm, were found inside the pickup truck. 

Brennon Nastacio and Kyle Thompson on October 27, 2016 – online sources

After BIA agents handed Thompson over to Morton County officials, he was released, and he was called a victim by Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. 

“Three days ago on October 27th, I was in a situation in which myself and others were faced with the difficult decision to take another’s life or not,” Thompson said on his Facebook page shortly after the ordeal. “I drew out my rifle after my vehicle was disabled and over 300 protesters were rapidly approaching my location, a few had knives and were dead set on using those knives.” 

Brennon Nastacio – Facebook page

The man who stopped him, Brennon “BJ” Nastacio, a Pueblo Native American from Boulder, Colorado, was placed on Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s Most Wanted List. He turned himself in and now faces felony terrorizing charges. Nastacio has had a preliminary hearing where he said the judge already set a court date of October 5. 

“I found that to be fishy,” Nastacio said. “But I pray that he [Thompson] finds help that he needs while being incarcerated. People are so quick to wish bad and talk negative, I am not one of them. I think we endured enough bad and negativity and to add more just isn’t how I was raised. So I am hopeful that this is a wake up call for him to stop walking down that path of destruction.” 

Nastacio remains hopeful that his name will be cleared. “But I am aware that my case is in a county where 92 percent of the people there think that we are guilty. I can only be hopeful and pray for a good outcome.” 

Two others were charged with Class C felony crimes when activists stopped Thompson: Michael Fasig of Minnesota and Israel Hernandez of New York, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department. The two “committed reckless endangerment offenses when they rammed a truck driven by another individual,” a Morton County Sheriff’s Department press release reported.

Provided by Morton County Sheriff’s Department

Thompson-Gray LLC is listed under Silverton Consulting International, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. The company was not authorized to work in North Dakota, the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported. Rumors at the time when trained dogs attacked activists in September 2016 reported G4S, a U.K.-based security company that often goes by nickname the “Chaos Company,” was involved as the Dakota Access Pipeline’s private security firm are unfounded, and denied by G4S staff. 

G4S does have multiple companies established in North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State. 

Charles Graham Clifton with horses in 2015 – photo provided by Joshua Franke-Hyland

Charles Graham Clifton is listed as the owner of Ohio-based Silverton Consulting International, a new company reported as “shady” in online reviews. Clifton is also the owner of AMGI Global, Ltd. Co., now dissolved for tax reasons in Texas, Knightsbridge Risk Management, now dissolved for noncompliance in Colorado. He has connections to the ISSE Foundation Inc., Red Rock Ordnance LLC, and Red Rock Armory, all dissolved for tax issues in Texas, the Lodestar Services International, dissolved in Colorado in 2011, and Humanitarian Defense, dissolved for tax reasons in Wyoming 2010. 

Joshua P. Franke-Hyland once worked with Clifton at AMGI Global, Ltd. Co., he said. “It was a 100 percent failure,” Franke-Hyland said. Clifton is “a scam artist with a very long history of scamming people of all types.” 

Barbara Marie Colliton – photo provided by Joshua Franke-Hyland

Clifton is on the run, Franke-Hyland said, from bench warrants for felony theft and civil lawsuits. Franke-Hyland believes the use of attack dogs was issued by Barbara Colliton, Clifton’s partner and frequent registered agent. Colliton was arrested in December 2016 but released in Taylor County, Texas after restitution was paid, Franke-Hyland said. 

Another company that used attack dogs on September 3 was the Ohio-based Frost Kennels, whose owner, Bob Frost, admitted to using the dogs on September 3, 2016. 

“We went out there to do a job and we did it,” Frost said in September 2016. “So we just said f*ck it, and got our dogs, and tried to make a bridge between them and the workers.” 

Morton County Sheriff’s Department said the companies involved as security firms for Dakota Access LLC on September 3 were not licensed to work in North Dakota, but did not file any charges against security personnel or companies involved. 

Franke-Hyland sued Clifton in Bexar County, and Clifton also is listed as being sued in Bastrop, Texas. 

“Clifton’s dream is to be G4S-AMGI, and was supposed to be Clifton’s answer to G4S,” Franke-Hyland said. “AMGI, like everything else Clifton touches, was complete sh*t. He is a risk in every sense in the word. His best day is as an incompetent short con that refuses to pay the bills.” 

FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force Targets Standing Rock Activist

Senators, lawyers, activists speak out against FBI, citing misguided attempts to link free speech to domestic terrorism

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL
– Joint Terrorism Task Force agents contacted an Indiana activist days after he returned home from Standing Rock’s fight in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Aaron Pollitt, 28, from Indiana, was charged on October 22, 2016 by Morton County Police with engaging in a riot and criminal trespass, according to Morton County Clerk of Court. His trial is pending. 

Aaron Pollitt – from Facebook page

After three weeks of direct action and living in the Standing Rock camps, Pollitt, listed as a water protector by Unity-Bloomington, said he left the fight to go home and vote in November 2016 when he was contacted by law enforcement who identified themselves as the Indiana State Police Intelligence Division. They stopped by his house – twice – called, and left messages, according to Pollitt. According to Indiana State Government website publication of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy Basic Courses, one of the agents involved is connected to JTTF, or the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

HPR Magazine chose to withhold the name of one of the agents identified for potential endangerment reasons. 

“First time it happened I did not know why a police officer came out to my house,” Pollitt said. “They wanted to talk to me, wanted to take me out for a Coca Cola, and they also said it didn’t have anything to do with my arrest.

“I told him I didn’t want to talk about it, but they came out again about a month later. I told them I had a lawyer to talk to, so I was a little more clear.”

Pollitt is a carpenter, worked as a stagehand at Indiana University, and is applying to be a ranger in the Forestry Bureau, he said. He is also a musician, a flutist, practicing a type of music called Kirtan, or Vedic chanting. According to a 2010 letter Pollitt is also an adventurist, and an environmentalist who aided in the development of a documentary called “Spirit of the Orca.”

“Strange times we live in,” Pollitt wrote in a Facebook post pertaining to Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Al Franken’s request about an explanation why at least three U.S. citizens opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline are being investigated by JTTF. 

“I am concerned that the reported questioning of political activists by one of the FBI’s terrorism task forces threatens to chill constitutionally protected conduct and speech,” Franken, a Democrat and a member of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Indian Affairs, wrote in a letter on March 1, 2017 to FBI Director James Comey.

The Guardian reported in February that investigations into three activists at Standing Rock is being construed by the FBI as acts of terrorism. FBI personnel could not be reached for comment. 

Pollitt will be defended in court by Valley City Attorney Russell Myhre. Myhre condemned his client’s targeting by JTTF agents. 

“This type of contact, and I have been subjected to it in the past, has a chilling effect upon free speech,” Myhre said. “It appears to be an attempt to tamp down any further attempt to exercise free speech by water protectors.”

“It was really eerie, it is really concerning to be investigated by a terrorism task force or state police, but I am not too concerned,” Pollitt said. “I feel like I am pretty safe.” 

JTTF is America’s front line on terrorism, according to the FBI, and work as small cells of highly trained, locally based, investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

“By assigning JTTF agents and officers to investigate Standing Rock protesters, I am concerned that the FBI has opted to view civil rights activism through a national security lens,” Franken wrote. “Embracing such tactics risks chilling the exercise of constitutional rights and further undermining trust between federal law enforcement and our tribal nations.” 

First page of Senator Al Franken’s letter to FBI concerning its investigations into No DAPL activists

While at the camps outside Standing Rock Pollitt said evidence of racism and hatred were everywhere. He was “cussed out” by Bismarck residents, he said, because as a white person he resembled a protester. He joined the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline because he sees North Dakota government as corrupt, bought by big oil money, and does not truly care for the environment or for the state’s Native American population. 

“I feel personally this is a critical time to make changes so we do not destroy our planet,” Pollitt said. “That voice needs to be loud and clear, but it is continually met with violence.”

His three-week experience at the camps showed him that Standing Rock and supporters were peaceful and nonviolent, he said.

“This is an assault on the rights of people to be scaring us away from our right to protest and to free speech,” Pollitt said. “To be assaulting people with crowd control weapons I think it is an attempt to oppress a certain portion of the population, and a lot of money is being poured into that part of the system by the new administration.

“We need to have the freedom to really express ourselves, especially if it’s a tremendous portion of the population that wants this change. This militarized police force is trying to suppress that voice.” 

Franken and The Guardian reported three people have been targeted in the United States by JTTF, and it is unclear if Pollitt was one of the three or a fourth US citizen targeted, Myhre said. 

In Morton County, Highway 1806 is now open to the public, but law enforcement ask for all travelers to pay close attention to traffic signs as the road will continue to be watched. 

On Monday, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC, said in court documents that there have been “recent coordinated physical attacks along the pipeline that pose threats to life, physical safety and the environment.” No mention was made of who was responsible for the alleged attacks, and the company plans to have oil running through the 1,172-mile long pipeline early as March 28.

United Nations Denounces North Dakota State Government

Sweet crude oil preparing to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline as work finishes, a look at the financials and Russian steel origins behind the pipeline

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL
– Bakken oil could be flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline within a week, but Standing Rock still hopes for a legal miracle as the United Nations condemns what it calls widespread discrimination and North Dakota’s militarized responses.  

As Standing Rock’s legal options diminish, an injunction filed by the Cheyenne River Tribe, part of the Great Sioux Nation, was once again turned down  by federal judges on Tuesday. Previous injunctions filed by the tribe to stop pipeline construction have also been denied by US District Judge James E. Boasberg, citing the the tribe waited too long to bring up the claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz stated on Monday that Native Americans have the right to defy undue pressures by extractive projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline. In a scathing report, Tauli-Corpuz said the United Nations is concerned about the safety of indigenous peoples, their cultures, their sacred sites, and their human rights issues in the United States. 

During her human rights mission for the United Nations, Tauli-Corpuz said she discovered widespread discrimination at local and national levels. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was not consulted as a sovereign nation. 

“In the context of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the potentially affected tribes were denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project,” Tauli-Corpuz said. “Furthermore, in a show of disregard for treaties in the federal cross responsibility, the Army Corps approved a draft environmental assessment regarding the pipeline that ignored the interests of the tribe. 

“The draft made no attempt of proximity to the reservation or the fact that the pipeline would cross historic treaty lands of a number of tribal nations. In doing so the draft environmental assessment treated the tribe’s interest as nonexistent, demonstrating the flawed current process.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continually dismissed risks and did not conduct an adequate cultural assessment before authorizing the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe or authorized the dumping of materials and waste into waters on Indian reservations, Tauli-Corpuz said. The Army Corps utilized a loophole in environmental assessment laws by fast tracking permits, and after the agency approved an environmental assessment study earlier this year, it backtracked and issued the final easement permit. 

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak has stated that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was contacted from the beginning of the pipeline planning stages.

The problem is not contained only to Standing Rock, but widespread throughout the USA, Rauli-Corpuz said.

In addition to local and federal government dismissiveness, Native Americans face the full force of negative health impacts from extraction, with rising levels of heavy metals in water and contamination in livestock from spills, faulty well construction, and the effects of frakking, or toxic and non-biodegradable discharges into surface waters. The oil boom has also enticed thousands of oil and gas workers creating an “incredible increase” of human trafficking, drugs, and sex crimes, Tauli-Corpuz said. 

Highway 1806 – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The trauma accumulated as a result of a the largely discriminatory policies of the government toward Indian tribes and individuals since first contact and today, still results in distrust of government initiatives and poor health outcomes for Indian individuals,” Tauli-Corpuz said.  

Her research showed that government, rather than people, have the final say in matters related to Native Americans, and “it is imperative the federal government properly consult before encroaching on indigenous lands,” Tauli-Corpuz said.

With few legal options left to halt Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC, Standing Rock and supporters are preparing to march in Washington DC on March 10 at the Native Nations Rise campaign. 

Activists preparing to leave pause on the Cannon Ball Bridge on Highway 1806 – photo by C.S. Hagen

“They want us to believe that the fight is over,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a press release. “But we can still win this. We can unite in peaceful, prayerful resistance against this illegal pipeline.” 

Officials plan to reopen the tribe’s main artery, Highway 1806, by March 13 if there is “no identifiable threat from protesters to block the highway,” the North Dakota Joint Information Center reported. 

Boom 

The North Dakota political machine has been repeatedly rated one of the worst in the United States for transparency by political watchdogs such as The Center for Public Integrity, and its reactions toward the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy have been scrutinized by press from around the world. 

Before pipeline construction began, a 78-page assessment report was compiled by Iowa-based Strategic Economics Group, Inc., written by Harvey Siegelman, Mike Lipsman, and Dan Otto, for Energy Transfer Partners. 

The pipeline companies promised jobs, growth, and stability, according to the November 12, 2014 report entitled Assessment of the Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

The report states that the pipeline project would create approximately 32,721 job-years – amount of work done by one person for one year. An average salary per worker was listed as $57,000 a year. “The increase in employment will generate a $1.9 billion increase in labor income, and a nearly $5 billion increase in production and sales in the region,” the report stated. 

After the pipeline is finished, 160 ongoing jobs will be added to the economy in North Dakota, generating $11 million in labor income and more than $23 million in new production and sales per year, the report promised. 

The pipeline was planned to cost Dakota Access, LLC $1.4 billion in North Dakota, of that amount an estimated $655.9 million, or 47 percent totaling $397 million, was planned to result in direct and indirect purchases in North Dakota. 

The total impact of the pipeline project in North Dakota was expected to add nearly 7,700 job-years of employment, generate more than $450 million in labor income, and add about $1.05 billion to the production and sales within the state, according to the report. Additionally, the state was to benefit by receiving revenues of approximately $32.9 million in taxes, of which $1.7 was for local governments, and $5.9 million from individual income taxes. During the first year of operation the state is slated to receive $13.1 million in new property taxes for local governments. 

The construction state of the pipeline was expected to generate $9.6 billion in total output nationally, but only half of that, $4.96 billion in output, or production and sales, would be captured in the four-state area. “That is because many of the manufacturers of products that will ultimately be purchased for this project are located outside of this region,” the report states. 

More than two years after the report was written, one of the authors, Lipsman, said he felt that the report will prove accurate, but that at least two more years were needed for government agencies to compile all the necessary information. 

“Obviously there’s been a lot more spent by Dakota Access because of all the slowdown,” Lipsman said. “Initially, we thought the construction would take two years, and then we came back and they said it would take one year, but with all the delays it’s now in the second year.”

Crews moved from state to state, Lipsman said, and although the actual number of people on the job might be less than what Strategic Economics Group, Inc. reported, he calculated job hours, and not actual personnel numbers.

“Especially since they were doing this so fast a lot of people got significant overtime, Lipsman said. “When we did ours in job years, the actual number of people who were on the project might be less than what we forecasted, but that was because we assume a 40-hour week, but if someone is working 15 to 20 hours of overtime you have less bodies but still as much labor going in.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline used less than 57 percent American-made steel, according to the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, an industry group lobbying for completion of the pipeline. Despite President Trump’s executive order demanding pipes to be made from American-manufactured steel, most if not all of the steel pipes planned for the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL projects have already been purchased. Piles of steel tubes are scattered throughout the Midwest. 

Dakota Access, LLC pipes – online sources

“Much of the steel for the Dakota Access project appears to have been manufactured in Canada by EVRAZ North America, a subsidiary of the Russian steel giant Evraz,” according to DeSmog, a news outlet focused on global warming misinformation campaigns. 

EVRAZ is owned in part by Roman Abramovich, a Russian multi-billionaire who assisted President Vladimir Putin into office in the late 1990s, according to DeSmog. The company’s management team is nearly all Russian nationals and former government workers, which should send red flags up with all American companies. 

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Abramovich reported a record profit of £18 million, according to media outlet Journal Star.  

Bakken oil production saw its “largest decline ever in North Dakota production” in September 2016, pumping out 895,330 barrels per day, according to media outlet Oil Price. Production of oil rebounded to 942,455 barrels in December 2016. The price of North Dakota sweet crude was up slightly in January to $40.75, and in February up again to $42.50 per barrel, which is a far cry from the all-time high in 2008 of $136.29 per barrel, according to Oil Price.

Winona LaDuke, a longtime activist and founder of Honor the Earth, disagrees with the math behind Bakken oil. She was part of the fight that shut down Enbridge’s Keystone Pipeline, and says that since Enbridge is an approximately 28 percent investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline, or as she says the Dakota Excess Pipeline, Enbridge should also be responsible for 28 percent of the injuries that occurred outside of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. 

LaDuke says the Bakken oil patch is busted, and the state should be focused more on infrastructure on people rather than for companies. More people today are employed in solar energy facilities than in oil patches, LaDuke said, and the future does not rest with fossil fuels. 

Government projections estimate 900,000 barrels of oil will be hauled out of the Bakken per day until 2019. “What I’m trying to figure out is where’s the oil for the 570,000 barrels a day pipeline you are shoving down our throats? All the oil going out of there now, is the same that will be going out of there in two years.” 

 

The workforce and mineral rights

On the ground reporting, live streaming videos, and reports from activists in the field rarely reported seeing local license plates on Dakota Access Pipeline vehicles, semis, or trucks. And while the state has been quite content bringing in outside companies, supplies, and an out-of-state workforce for the project, its response has shown contempt against all outside activists fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The North Dakota Joint Information Center frequently posts updates on arrests, identifying repeatedly that out of the 761 people arrested, 94 percent were not from North Dakota. 

Former main entrance to Oceti Sakowin blockaded against police advance – photo by C.S. Hagen

On the construction side of the pipeline, Pam Link, director of governmental relations and new business development for the Laborer’s International Union of North America Local #563, said business couldn’t be better. In 2016, Local #563 had from 400 to 600 union members working on the Dakota Access Pipeline.  

“A vast majority of them were North Dakotans,” Link said. Most of the jobs were short term, but members are already back at work across the state, she said. Her union currently has approximately a dozen workers involved at the drill pad crossing the Missouri River. “We have massive work going on, starting right now, it’s unbelievable, how busy we will be, it’s unbelievable how much work we have.”

Link wouldn’t say if the work load increase was due to changes made by Trump’s Administration, but said in 2016 her union was focused primarily on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Local #49 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborer’s International Union of North America Local 300, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, among others, also had members working on the pipeline, according Link. None replied to telephone calls for comment. 

“A larger percentage of positions in the earlier phases of oil development are shorter term or transient in nature, but as more wells are added, more people will be needed to service and maintain those wells,” Tessa Sandstrom, the director of communications for the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said.  

Not including transportation and construction jobs, the Bakken workforce has increased from 5,000 jobs in 2005 to 81,500 in 2013, Sandstrom reported. Numbers began to decline in 2015, but “they will still be a pretty big chunk of North Dakota’s total workforce,” Sandstorm said. 

“The petroleum industry will continue to provide economic, tax, employment, and energy security benefits well into the future of North Dakota,” Sandstorm said. “The Dakota Access Pipeline will play a large part in that because it will make transporting North Dakota crude more economic which means we will get a better price for the barrel.”

Pipeline oil will decrease the cost of transportation per barrel, allowing the state to accumulate at least $100 million or more per year if total oil prices do not sink lower than $50 per barrel, Sandstrom said. While the pipeline controversy cost the state more than $38.2 million taxpayer dollars, according to information released Tuesday by the North Dakota Joint Information Center, the state could easily see its investment paid back through pipeline taxes. 

“It’s easy for detractors to immediately jump to this as being only a benefit for the oil companies, but it, in fact, is a boon to the state and mineral owners as well. Mineral owners would stand to gain between $100 to $120 million per year because of this pipeline”

“In terms of businesses benefitting from oil and gas development, it is not a few local drillers who benefit from the work here,” Sandstorm said. 

North Dakota has more than 400 individuals and 115 companies or independent contractors who are involved in the drilling and well production processes in the Bakken, Sandstorm said. There are also 117 certified native-owned companies that provide oil and gas development services. According to a 2014 study made public by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, more than 876 business in North Dakota are part of the larger oil and natural gas supply chain. 

“These aren’t just the stereotypical roughnecks or roustabouts either,” Sandstorm said. “These positions, businesses, and contractors range from the skilled trades, such as electricians, to engineers and from human resources professionals to legal and environmental consultants.”

Exact numbers of people employed or those who are benefitting from the Dakota Access Pipeline, such as mineral rights owners,  are at best difficult to pin down. At the height of the state’s most recent oil “boom” from 2010 until 2014, the state’s population increased by 66,000, according to the North Dakota Census Office. 

Gary Preszler, chairman for National Host Production Deduction Committee and former commissioner for North Dakota Land Management, also owns a large mineral interest in Billings County, from  which he said the royalty payments have put his children through college.

“The average mineral owner is not going to get wealthy from their checks, because wells deplete and start producing less and less,” Preszler said. “The average mineral owner is not going to have any life-changing windfall. They might improve their lifestyle a little bit.”

The average mineral rights owner is a retired elderly person receiving $50 a month, he said. 

The history of mineral rights in North Dakota is confusing even to oil company accountants, and many mistakes have been made in the past, Preszler said. The puzzle dates back to the 1930s Great Depression when many farmers and ranchers sold their mineral rights to survive. 

At the beginning, the state kept five percent of the mineral rights giving 95 percent to purchasers, then in the late 1940s, the state began keeping 50 percent, then 100 percent in the 1960s, Meszler said. Farm credit service banks and the state-owned Bank of North Dakota also own mineral rights in western North Dakota’s oil-rich lands from foreclosures, and typically keep 50 percent mineral rights when land is resold. Professional oil workers and oil companies also have purchased mineral rights directly from landowners. 

Today, third generation cousins scattered across the United States and oblivious to their ownership titles also are heirs to mineral rights, Preszler said. 

“When you’re a mineral owner, it’s not all the sudden the money pours in,” he said. Oil price swings, production tapering, and mechanical failures fluctuate royalty checks. Sometimes, “You go that mailbox for the month and there’s nothing there,” Preszler said.

The Minerals Management Division of the Department of North Dakota Trust Lands manages 2.567 million mineral acres throughout the state, of which 1.215 million mineral acres are in the oil and gas producing counties, and another 1.352 million acres are in non-producing counties. Schools and other trusts own 1.84 million acres, and foreclosed properties formerly managed by the Bank of North Dakota and Sovereign Lands make up the remaining 728,000 mineral acres.

The state of North Dakota covers 45,250,560 acres, according to North Dakota Studies, of which, including some acreage in South Dakota, 4,689,920 acres are on Native American reservations. The Bakken oil patch, in its entirety, spans approximately 15,360,000 acres.

While some in the Peace Garden State may be profiting from Bakken oil and the Dakota Access Pipeline, few think about the long term environmental and sociological effects, the reason behind Standing Rock’s resistance against the pipeline. Additionally, the United Nations wants the state to pay more attention to those who are to a large degree not profiting from the oil “boom.” 

“The United States government should fully realize the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in the UN declaration and the rights of indigenous peoples, and i strongly recommend that the United States government continue to improve on its policies to develop stronger government and government relations with the tribes,” Tauli-Corpuz said.

License to Hate

North Dakota’s rash of political knee-jerking, and local hate toward No-DAPL activists needs “sunlight,” human rights advocates say 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Militarized police armed with emergency declarations, beanbags and bullets, zip ties and presidential orders, have scattered most of the camps pitted against the Dakota Access Pipeline to the four winds, but local hatred against the movement remains. 

And it’s being promoted across the state, from rural farmer to urban politician. 

As the activists’ camps consolidate to its last bastion – Sacred Stone Camp, where the movement originally began – no one has been killed. Many have been injured, and more than 750 have been arrested in what was once North Dakota’s tenth largest community. 

“What this past year has exposed is the ugly underbelly of North Dakota,” Tom Asbridge, former democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in North Dakota, said. “We are as much or more racist and authoritarian than the Old South. It is inescapable. Our Christian values have not stood the scrutiny of our actions. I have been ashamed of my state in ways I never imagined I could be. Certainly our entire religious community must be challenged.”

The tide of hatred reads like a fast-moving news ticker.

Photos by Rob Wilson, C.S. Hagen, and online video sources

Now, North Dakota political leaders, bolstered by the Trump Administration, are more concerned with falling oil prices and returning to a “whiter” America by toughening its stances on protesters and immigration policies. North Dakota State Legislature has proposed and recently passed an unholy trinity of draconian bills targeting protests – a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment.

After passing the House, the Senate voted 33-12 in favor of a measure to criminalize adults wearing masks, and increasing penalties for “rioting” and trespassing were passed with wider margins. The bills were amended by the Senate and will return to the House for a final vote. 

If the bills become law, those participating in a riot involving 100 or more people could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, which is double the current penalties. Protesters involved in smaller “riots” would be charged with a felony and possibly serve up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

A bill that would have essentially legalized murder by car against protesters was killed mid February. In essence, the state is saying wit these propositions that protesters are nothing more than racketeering thugs, and have already called them and those helping activist camps “terrorists” and “paid protesters.” 

Other politicians and local media stations have targeted refugees, saying they carry tuberculosis, and they’re proposing laws meant to say – they’re not welcome in the Peace Garden State.  

“You know what we’re sick and tired of?” Scott P. Garman of Unity-USA said in an editorial. “People who think minorities can be guilty of racism in the same way that members of our dominant society often can be. 

“Racism is prejudice plus power. I know this stark reality may sound harsh, but keep in mind that this fact is not up for debate, it is a clear and real definition.”

Morton County’s militarized police force was something that Jennifer Cook of the ACLU of North Dakota is concerned about. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cook said. Using binoculars, she watched as police moved into the camps on February 22 and 23. “For a movement that has been largely nonviolent, it raises a lot of red flags.”

Behind the scenes, the ACLU pushed “very hard” throughout January to have law enforcement adopt different rules for engagement, she said. Cook believes that the ACLU, and many other organizations involved in the controversy, played an important role in curbing Morton County’s apparent appetite for “less-lethal force.” 

“It’s a marked change from what it was before. I think the pressure from a lawsuit involved from us, a lawsuit from the Water Protector Legal Collective/National Lawyers Guild, I hope had an impact on that. And that was part of our goal was to have that change, because we certainly don’t think less-lethal weapons should be used in the manner that they had been used out at Standing Rock.” 

The public outlash comes from fear, according to Shiyé Bidzííl, a Standing Rock Sioux activist, who has spent many of the winter months at the Oceti camps. Fear of the unknown, fear of the things not understood, fear of change, which leaves few options on how to react: learn or reject. On the day before the main camps were evicted, he took a moment to share his personal experiences during the long months since April 2016. 

“There is a difference in me, I have gained a more spiritual knowledge of myself, and what I got to do,” Bidzííl said. “I found my purpose.”

He conquered his fears after two masked white men threatened to attack him outside a Bismarck hotel, he said; repression leads only to resistance.

“As long as a person can believe in the good and in the bad, it’s what empowers us to do greater in this life, to see all the evil in this world, and in a way this is evil and this is bad.” Bidzííl  pointed to the police waiting along Highway 1806 overlooking the former Oceti Sakowin. “Again, invading our treaty territories, and not respecting our treaty laws and our rights as indigenous people here.”

Garman said privilege is the power to be ignorant of one’s privilege, and it is the enemy of truth.

“The truth is this, in our 21st century, multicultural world, many people have a subconscious fear of losing their privileged status,” Garman said. “They usually don’t realize that this is the case, but deep down, somewhere in their heart of hearts, they know that the world is not fair, but this unfairness is especially true for minorities.”

And when such narratives are supported by those in power, the truth is lost, Bidzííl said. 

“They try to come in and portray it as something different, and they think that is the story. The real stories are people like me, all these live streamers here, and all these warriors, and the true story is we’re here to protect the mother and her waters to flow freely for all the people to be free and to drink, to quench our thirst of what we want to do in this life.”

Dozens of police cars lined both sides of Highway 1806, closed off months before to the north. Some police are silent, leaving piles of sunflower seed shells on the pavement. Bureau of Indian Affairs agents cracked jokes about “DAPL Juice,” or “Warrior Juice,” a methamphetamine and Gatorade mix they say activists are known to drink. Police from cities like Fargo, Kenmare, and sheriff’s department across the state sat bored, watched dashboard clocks as the 2 p.m. deadline approached. Behind the rows of sedans and SUVs, the North Dakota National Guard in their Humvees and Bearcats approached. 

 

Police and journalists waiting by serpentine before closing of the former Oceti Sakowin camps – photo by C.S. Hagen

“There’s so much militarized force here, but that’s how much fear they have in them,” Bidzííl said. “They have to show their superior force to make them feel okay with themselves. In that way, we already won.”

Before signing off on a live feed on Sunday from an undisclosed location, Bidzííl thanked all the haters who “stalk” him online. “A message to all my haters, to all my trolls, I want to thank you. If it wasn’t for all the trolls out there we wouldn’t know all the pain and the hate.”

The camps may be mostly emptied, but according to activists, the fight is not over.

In early February, a masked activist released a video to senior justice writer for the New York Daily News Shaun King.

“They call us militant, they say we are violent, that we are not here in prayer… but there is prayer in our actions… and for the next seven generations we will be here for the water. We will not stop until the black snake is defeated. We shall remain until we are free in this world, or free from this world.”

Cook believes that the hatred in North Dakota doesn’t have to be permanent. 

“It can change,” Cook said. “Tensions are high right now on both sides and that much is very obvious. Is there some trickle over in some communities that aren’t near Bismarck, or events that are happening near Bismarck? That very well may be.”

As the policy director for the ACLU of North Dakota, Cook is familiar with most of the incidents that have occurred lately in North Dakota. The best tool to combat hatred is through education, she said. 

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Cook said. 

“It is essential to our democracy, even speech that we abhor, unless it is an imminent threat, like fighting words to someone, we need to be able to protect them. If you push that type of speech underground you won’t be able to see it. How do you know that it’s happening then? How do you know those feelings of racial tension are there?

“We want to bring it to light. We want to talk about it.”

Cultural competency training, community outreach programs, social cultural events, and advocacy to state and law enforcement leaders must occur in order help define what appropriate behavior is. When all else fails, the ACLU turns to litigation to help bring change to state and federal regulations. 

“We need to address issues as they pop up,” Cook said. “One of the best ways to handle these things is to not sweep it under the rug, bring it to light, and do it in a way that is educational to others. 

“That’s one of the great things about the Standing Rock movement; it has given us an opportunity to talk about this.” 

Former Oceti Sakowin main stage burning – by C.S. Hagen

The Final Standing Rock

 Former Oceti Sakowin Camp cleared, 47 arrested, some flee across river to Sacred Stone Camp

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – Twenty hours before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline to evacuate the Oceti camps, the thunder beings arrived. 

And geese returned home a month or more early. 

Signs, activists say, like the the herded buffalo that charged near law enforcement in November 2016, or the golden eagle who perched for hours on a nearby fence, that nature is listening. 

On the final day for the Standing Rock camps’ fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, native songs and flames filled the air. No tears, many smiles, for their cause – to protect water and indigenous rights – had just begun, activists said. 

First structures set ablaze at the Oceti camps February 22 – photo by C.S. Hagen

“People on the ground are doing the right thing,” long time activist and attorney Chase Iron Eyes said. Lightning streaked in the horizon as he spoke. 

“They are surrounding us on all sides, not only by the United States military the Army Corps, but by the National Guard, by Morton County Law Enforcement, by every small town and county in North Dakota, and by private DAPL mercenaries. But add to that there are federal Indian police that answer to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which answers to the Department of the Interior, and used to answer to the Department of War, and now those federal Indian police answer to President Trump.” 

Shiyé Bidzííl, a Standing Rock Sioux activist, has spent many of the winter months at the Oceti camps. He experienced difficulty live feeding one hour before the Army Corps deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday, and climbed out of the floodplain onto Highway 1806 – where law enforcement kept journalists and legal observers at bay – to get better reception.

“All this stuff we’re doing to Mother Earth here is very wrong,” Bidzííl said. “And in the end, it’s not DAPL, it’s not Morton County, it’s not the water protectors who will have the last say so. All these beings are signs, we’re talking about the thunder beings, the eagles, it’s here. It’s right before our eyes.”

Shiyé Bidzííl, a Standing Rock Sioux, prepares to leave an hour before deadline – photo by C.S. Hagen

Behind Bidzííl, another tipi burst into flames. In all, more than 20 structures including tipis, tents, and makeshift homes were burned to ash. Each flame burst was preceded by an explosion. Two people, a seven-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were burned, and had to be transported by the Standing Rock ambulances to local hospitals, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. 

“This camp might be burning down, but this is just the beginning of it,” Bidzííl said.

Camp structures were burned not for vengeance, Bidzííl said, but for cleansing. 

“It’s a way of leaving a place that we’ve held so long here, and burning down a structure is a part of that ceremony of leaving things. Burning. Burning all the prayers, all the traditions, all our fights, courage, bravery, strength, all going up in flames. Everything we do here means something.”

Burning their tents activists have called home for months, is also their way of giving back to nature. 

“Burning your camp, burning your tipi, burning a place you’ve called home, because the enemy is coming in to attack you, and we don’t want them touching anything. We don’t want them coming into our tipi and our home. So what do we do? We burnt it. And for us we’re burning it back, let it go back to its natural state of being.”

Guardhouse of the Oceti camps ablaze – photo by C.S. Hagen

South on Highway 1806, across the Cannon Ball Bridge, busses and state-sponsored travel-assistance packages worth $300 were waiting for anyone who wanted to leave. 

Activists at Oceti entrance while fires rage behind them – photo by C.S. Hagen

No one volunteered, Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson said. The services, which included a hot shower, food, taxi money, and a bus ticket home, were going to be available until 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. 

Jennifer Cook, a legal observer from the North Dakota ACLU was worried about being stuck behind cement barricades, hundreds of meters away from the camps. 

“We are only here to observe actions, we’re not here to protest, we’re only here to record what we see and what we hear,” Cook said. She has seen an improvement in police responses since Governor Doug Burgum took office.

“Our hope is our access will continue, and that we will be able to ensure that this is a peaceful and safe removal of any water protectors that choose to stay in the camp past the two o’clock deadline.” 

Shortly before 2 p.m. deadline, a group of at least 60 activists paraded from Oceti’s front entrance to where a United Nations College bus waited to escort them away. Many were covered in mud, their possessions were meager. Some wore plastic bags to protect themselves from stinging snowflakes. Burning sage and hugs accompanied drumbeats as water protectors – now friends – said their farewells. 

Old Glory and the “shroud-like” image in the flag, activists marching out of the Oceti camps – photo by C.S. Hagen

Across the Cannon Ball River, however, a handful of up to 100 activists refused to leave. Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported 10 people were arrested on Wednesday. Law enforcement did not infiltrate the camps as sundown approached. International journalists from the New York Times, Fox New, CBS, ABC, and local reporters from the Bismarck Tribune, and the Grand Forks Herald lined up like Civil War gentry awaiting a spectacle behind a serpentine wall as the clock struck 2 o’clock. 

More than 100 police officers from counties and cities – Fargo to Kenmare – including the Wisconsin Sheriff’s Department, planned to “ceremoniously arrest” activists, Iverson said. A ceremonious arrest is a staged event meant to show law enforcement’s restraint, but the arrests accompanied real trespassing charges, Iverson said. 

“It’s not going to end today,” Iverson said. “There are multiple camps.” 

Law enforcement also wanted to inspect every dwelling in search of possible crime scenes including missing persons or drugs, Iverson said. Setting fire to structures was hindering police investigations.

“It’s hypocritical to say it’s about clean water when things are on fire and things are exploding,” Iverson said. 

Early morning Backwater Bridge and snow – photo by C.S. Hagen

Earlier on Wednesday, Burgum’s policy advisor, Levi Bachmeier, asked camp wellness director Johnny Aseron for permission to allow armed police with cleanup crews into the camps before the deadline. 

“Armed or unarmed?” Aseron said. “While we are in a cleanup day we’re going to have armed officers in the camp?” 

The offer was refused. The cleanup crews were turned away, according to Iverson. Early Thursday morning the North Dakota Joint Information Center reported no major movements from either law enforcement or the activists remaining in the camps. Law enforcement plans to raid all camps on Army Corps lands, but not the private land at the Sacred Stone Camp. 

Camp leaders also requested a “Geneva space” at the southern end of the Oceti camp for those who wanted to peacefully resist. Their offer was accepted by the governor’s office until 2 p.m. Wednesday. 

Activists said law enforcement were fearful, they, however, were not. 

“Fear,” Bidzííl said. “A wonderful, beautiful, chaotic way of explaining everything. We can use fear to fight fear. I allowed myself to be put into that situation in order to rid the fear in me.

“We got people heading out, we got people with prior felony warrants who are making that choice today to stay here or get out of camp and protect the knowledge and keep it going.” 

Bidzííl planned to leave by the 2 p.m. deadline, and head to Iowa to continue the fight against pipelines. Last December, he recalled being threatened by locals in Bismarck while trying to check into a hotel. 

Tipis and structures burned for a reason – photo by C.S. Hagen

“They terrorized me a lot, but little did they know… all my fear came out of me. I’m not scared to go and do anything or say anything, because it is my right.” He was threatened by locals in Bismarck last December while trying to check into a hotel. 

Since President Trump’s executive orders to expedite the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Army Corps’ sudden issuance of the final easement under the Missouri River under Lake Oahe, less than one mile from the Standing Rock Reservation’s border, Bidzííl has frequently heard the DAPL equipment digging. 

“There’ more power in ourselves when we show we can stand up to the fear, the racism, and the terrorizing.” His experience at the camps, which have stood in resistance to big oil interests since April 2016, have united hundreds or tribes across the world, and was at one time North Dakota’s tenth largest community, has changed him, he said. 

Activists salute at the front entrance of Oceti camps – photo by C.S. Hagen

“There’s so much militarized force here, but that’s how much fear they have in them,” Bidzííl said. “They have to show their superior force to make them feel okay with themselves.” 

He knows all about the indigenous struggles, and how Native Americans have been given more than a “bad shake” since the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. 

“You know what’s different about it this time? They created something that creates fear in their eyes so much, and that’s called water protectors. We’re here to protect water, but at the same time we’re here to protect what’s right in this world.” 

Law enforcement cleared the former Oceti Sakowin Camp by 2:09 p.m Thursday, arresting 46 activists who refused to leave the main camp area, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. 

“The past two days have gone very smoothly in a challenging environment and complex effort to clear the camp,” Burgum said in a press release. “Dozens of local, state, and federal agencies showed tremendous coordination to ensure the prices was conducted safely and securely.”

No less than lethal force was used during the overtaking of the former Oceti Sakowin, the North Dakota Joint Information Center reported. A group of veterans occupying a tent refused to leave voluntarily, but would exercise passive resistance resulting in law enforcement carrying them out. 

One activist waited for police on a rooftop. Approximately 60 activists fled to the frozen Cannon Ball River, and many others escaped to Sacred Stone Camp, which is on private land and was not to be cleared, according to government spokespeople. 

As of February 21, the North Dakota National Guard accounted for 35,412 man hours spent guarding road blocks and assisting police, and 1,421 guard members were called for duty throughout the controversy, according to the North Dakota National Guard. The North Dakota National Guard spent a total of $8,752,232 during the months after former Governor Jack Dalrymple called a state of emergency in August 2016. 

 

Veteran who spoke to police on behalf of an elderly woman in the camp being arrested – photo provided by North Dakota Joint Information Center

Activist being arrested – photo provided by North Dakota Joint Information Center

Well armed police prepare to clear an area – photo provided by North Dakota Joint Information Center

Law enforcement entering former Oceti Sakowin Camp – photo provided by North Dakota Joint Information Center

The State’s Siege of Standing Rock

The state’s stranglehold on the anti-DAPL movement squeezes shut, veterans speak out

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – Standing Rock’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline has all the ingredients of legend, with only the ending remaining be be told. Centuries past, bards would be tuning their lutes, preparing lyrics, in fact, modern singers such as Neil Young, Dave Matthews, the Black Eyed Peas, Trevor Hall, and many Native American talents have already immortalized Standing Rock’s resistance. 

“If you are a rock, stand up like a mountain,” Hall sang about Standing Rock

Two months ago, the story promised a happy ending for activists: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted the pipeline, ordered an environmental impact statement, and thousands of veterans converged into the camps. The caravan stretched for miles, cars – bumper to bumper – for a full day and a night. 

Activists offering thanks of sage, fir nettles, and tobacco to the former Oceti Sakowin sacred fire – photo by C.S. Hagen

Proponents of the pipeline however, bided their time, waited on a savior. Bending to pressure from President Trump’s Administration, the Army Corps has issued the easement needed for Dakota Access, LLC to complete the pipeline, and have said nothing about the continuation of its promised environmental impact statement. The Peace Garden State’s tactics against the Standing Rock camps – pitted for an ongoing 190 days against the 1,172-mile pipeline – were nothing more than a slowly-squeezing siege, activists and veterans say, calculated and methodical. Like a medieval siege. 

Activist at Highway 1806 barricade – photo by C.S. Hagen

“It started with the roadblock, which brought economic sanctions against Standing Rock,” attorney and long time activist Chase Iron Eyes said. “It was a genius move, but now the walls are definitely closing in.” 

Once North Dakota’s tenth largest community with more than 10,000 people living in the floodplain along the Cannonball River, the remaining activists now number only 400, Iron Eyes said. Calls have gone out to return; some, including veterans, are heeding the cry for help. 

“Numerous law enforcement and federal agencies have severely limited access to the camps at Standing Rock,” Mark Sanderson, executive director for VeteransRespond said. “They run propaganda and psy-ops against any group going to help. You can’t make it to camp without going through roadblocks or checkpoints. The situation on camp is that many necessities are very limited. Clean drinking water for one is hard to get, fuel for generators, food.”

 

Siege (n.) early 13th century, from Vulgar Latin ‘sedicum’ meaning ‘seat’

Militarized law enforcement began its siege by closing down Highway 1806, and then erecting a blockade on Backwater Bridge to rival Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. One of the first rules of a siege is to isolate the target, like the Arabs did against Constantinople in 717 CE, or Nazis 872-day siege against St. Petersburg in 1941, or the 1,425-day siege of Bosnian Serb’s against Sarajevo in 1992.

Law enforcement and the North Dakota National Guard toyed with closing the road down for nearly three months before making the blockade official in late October 2016.

Former Governor Jack Dalrymple set the stage. In August 2016, he declared a state of emergency. Two months later he issued an emergency evacuation order, further declaring anyone caught supplying Standing Rock with goods or equipment could face a fine of up to $1,000.

DAPL Front lines in January 2016 – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

Besieging forces are not allowed to target civilians, according to the U.S. Army field manual’s Additional Protocols of 1977, and relief agencies are authorized to provide aid to people in need. A day after the threat was issued by Dalrymple, he backtracked, saying police would not target people or close down additional roads.

Backwater Bridge is the site where Morton County Sheriff’s Department hosed activists in below freezing weather; the site where Sophia Wilanksy nearly lost her arm; the site where trucks were burned, where disguised infiltrators attempted to gain access to the main camp, and the site where dozens were maced, injured, and arrested. Instead of using trebuchets and crossbows, law enforcement used its “non-lethal” arsenal of pepper spray, water cannons, and percussion grenades.

It was also the site of prayers, burning sage, traditional dances, and colorful banners. 

 

Surrounded on all sides

The state’s next move was to encircle the Standing Rock camps. A second rule for laying siege is to completely surround the target, preventing food, water, and supplies from assisting the besieged. Activists at Standing Rock soon found themselves trapped behind razor wire, mace, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades. The only route in or out was to take Highway 6, which easily added 40 minutes driving time. 

When activists attempted to reach the DAPL drill pad in November, hundreds of police waited along Cantapeta Creek, showering activists in frigid water with pepper spray. When they marched on Backwater Bridge, they were hit with water cannons, percussion grenades, mace, and pepper spray. When activists plowed through snow and across a frozen Cannon Ball River in January, they were met, once again, with razor wire and more mace. 

Activists nearing DAPL drill pad – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

Many of the actions taken by activists occurred on reserved lands the Sioux Nation agreed to during the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, and have never relinquished, according to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II. Lands north of the Cannon Ball River were taken from the Standing Rock Tribe after massive devastation from damning the Missouri River during the Pick-Sloan legislation. 

Police sprayed mace and pepper spray intermittently at activists in Cantapeta Creek – photo by C.S. Hagen

“They’ve also encouraged the local economies to participate in the siege by denying support to those trying to secure goods for camp,” Sanderson said. Sanderson retired from the US Army in 2015 as a Sergeant First Class. He was a designated marksmen and was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in Baghdad, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Riot police spray activists at Backwater Bridge – photo by Rob Wilson Photography

“They make it seem like we’re all coming with intentions of building bombs and getting into confrontations, they’ve successfully turned a large group of Americans against veterans.”

 

Psychological warfare 

Next came psychological and according to some, biological warfare. Although Morton County denied the use of chemicals against activists near Standing Rock, more than 40,000 pounds of Rozol Prairie Dog Bait, an anticoagulant rodenticide, were purchased by a nearby rancher, David Meyer, of Flasher, according to the United State Environmental Protection Agency. A portion was spread across more than 5,408 acres of nearby pasturelands in the spring of 2016, the same time activists began gathering at Sacred Stone Camp. Investigators said the chances any of the more the 20,000 people who traveled through Standing Rock being poisoned were remote, nearly impossible, but many activists retain their doubts. Questions have arisen as to whether humans now suffering what is known as the “DAPL cough” might not have been affected. 

Frozen water at Backwater Bridge – photo by Rob Wilson Photography

“There have been no substantiated clinical cases of Rozol poisoning traced back to camp exposure,” NDResponse.gov, a state information delivery platform said. “Wood-burning stoves, kerosene heaters, and other temporary forms of heat have been known to cause lung, nose, and eye irritation. An ongoing cough is not consistent with Rozol exposure.” 

Sound cannons, attack dogs, and tactics causing hyperthermia, were also used against activists admittedly trespassing during their repeated marches on the pipeline. 

Airplanes and helicopters surveyed the camps daily. Cyber warfare ensued, including reports of mass data seizures, electronic bugs, stolen files, according to the Lawyer’s Guild Mass Defense Committee and nonprofit Geeks Without Bounds. 

Coldness of river, evident by discoloration on activist’s back – photo by C.S. Hagen

Medics battle hypothermia and hurry to warm activist – photo by C.S. Hagen

And then came Standing Rock’s victory on December 4, celebrated as joyous news to many activists. Standing Rock Tribal Council asked everyone to return home, winter was coming, and the camps’ numbers dwindled. 

Some, including Iron Eyes, stayed. The December victory was an ingenious stall of time, he said. A besieging army would never dare attack a force with far superior numbers. 

“December 4 was no victory at all,” Iron Eyes said. “We didn’t win. They told us to go home because ‘we won,’ ‘our prayers were answered.’”

State tactics were seemingly pulled straight from a page of Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War.’ 

“It turned the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, under economic duress, against the same people they were supposed to protect.” He is currently in Canada, but plans to return to Standing Rock later this week. He faces a Class C felony charge of inciting a riot, and he’s also planning lawsuits against Morton County. 

“Morton County is trying to throw me back in prison,” Iron Eyes said. In addition to being the founder of media outlet Last Real Indians, Iron Eyes ran for a congressional seat in 2016. “It seems ludicrous to me.” 

Iron Eyes is worried that the Army Corps’ deadline for all camps to be evacuated by February 22 will be the government’s final assault. 

“I’m afraid it will look like the Siege on Fallujah,” Iron Eyes said. 

Activists hugging each other as law enforcement issue final warning to move – photo by C.S. Hagen

VeteransRespond

When pipeline proponents’ savior, President Donald Trump, ascended to the White House in January, political attacks intensified. In addition to Morton County Sheriff’s Department propaganda program entitled “Know the Truth,” which includes short videos from the law enforcement side of the controversy, the state kickstarted a website called NDResponse.gov, a “a single source of accurate and timely information.”

Veterans for Standing Rock before the former Oceti Sakowin Camp sacred fire on December 4 at – photo by C.S. Hagen

Politicians, including Representative Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and Morton County Commissioner Cody Schulz called activists paid protesters, and blamed missing livestock in the area on activists while the case is still ongoing by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. 

“As many as 14 dead or missing animals have been reported in the vicinity of the encampments,” NDResponse.gov reported. “Whether any of those animals were consumed illegally is part of an ongoing investigation.”

The state is further attempting to sway public opinion by depicting activists as careless by disseminating video of trash being compiled at the former Oceti Sakowin Camp. The state’s official stance is that activists are trucking garbage to one camp location and dumping it for a consolidated pick up, but at the same time report officers are digging through the trash looking for dead bodies. 

“The veteran community is being targeted as they would a minority,” Sanderson said. “We feel like the supporters of the civil rights movement.”

Although more than 700 people have been arrested, Morton County Sheriff’s Department broadcasted a case on Monday saying “Leader of VeteransRespond Cited for Drug Possession.” Matthew Crane, VeteransRespond chief operations officer, who uses medical cannabis to treat PTSD, and three others were cited after they traveled beyond the road closure sign on Highway 1806 near Fort Rice. 

Matthew Crane – Facebook page picture

“One of the occupants turned over a smoking device identified as a pipe used to ingest marijuana,” the North Dakota Joint Information Center reported. “At that point, all occupants and their luggage were removed from the vehicle and searched by the K-9. A bag of marijuana was located with Crane’s name on it.” 

Medical Marijuana was legalized by every state district in North Dakota last November. The bill, known as the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative, is currently under review after being postponed and rewritten by state legislature. 

Posted on the VeteransRespond’s Facebook page, volunteers have begun to arrive at the Standing Rock camps. They’ve been chopping wood, setting up kitchens, and helping with the trash situation. 

Fueled by a national wave led by “alternative facts” and President Trump’s big oil agenda, Pro DAPL supporters have stepped up their attacks – verbal and physical – against anti DAPL supporters lately, Sanderson said. Verbal attacks are hitting online, and law enforcement is hunting veterans on the roads. Some media outlets have reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorism task force is aggressively monitoring people affiliated with the No DAPL movement. 

“Much of this negative energy is a result of two encounters with law enforcement, one in North Dakota and another in South Dakota,” Sanderson said. “Our Chief Operations Officer, Matthew Crane, was cited for having less than a gram of medicinal cannabis on him, he took ownership that it was his and received a ticket. He was not arrested. The Morton County Sheriff’s department felt necessary to issue a press release about this citation calling our organization out by name and inaccurately attributing an arrest in South Dakota to our organization.” 

Travis Biolette was traveling through Sough Dakota and was arrested for possession of hash oil, Sanderson said. Biolette is not a member of VeteransRespond, but the group picked him up when he was released from jail. 

“While we respect state and federal laws we also respect the right to a veteran’s safe access to his or her medicine,” Sanderson said. “Many of our core members suffered from opioid and amphetamine addiction upon leaving the service and have found a better way forward with the help of medicinal cannabis.”

Biolette is in good spirits, and currently at the camps, he said on his Facebook page. 

“As soon as the police found out I was going to Sacred Stone Camp I was placed in the police car and searched,” Biolette said. “I am currently free and have to go to court on February 27th. I am looking at five years in a state penitentiary of South Dakota for medical marijuana that the state of Michigan has determined I need. I am currently looking for legal representation to prevent that prison time.”

“It’s hard to imagine a time in America when police officers would target a veterans group for trying to help a community and support our fellow vets,” Sanderson said. “They certainly do all they can to deny support to the camp and use disinformation and propaganda against anyone who tries to help, even those like us that come in peace.”

Sanderson previously joined the December veterans at Standing Rock, and said at that time 300 cots provided by the American Red Cross were denied entry to Standing Rock by Morton County Sheriff’s Department. 

In total, 705 people have been arrested since August 2016, with 92 percent of those arrested from out of state, 212 people arrested had prior criminal records, 33 arrested had a history of violence, 40 with a history of theft, robbery, or burglary, and 41 previously cited or arrested for drug possession, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. 

The total cost to taxpayers in North Dakota so far is $32.9 million, with $25 million going to salaries, $3.6 million going toward personnel support, including travel and lodging, and $4.3 million going toward equipment and supplies to survive the winter, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center. 

The North Dakota Department of Transportation announced on Monday that Highway 1806 closure point was changed from south of Mandan to County Road 135, north of Fort Rice, allowing eight more miles of open highway. 

 

North Dakota Legislature

The Peace Garden State’s political siege against those who openly differ in opinion has taken the frontline in the forms of proposed bills to strike fear into activists and future protesters. One of the bills hit activists in the pocketbooks, another tried to legalize the “unintentional” killing of protesters. 

North Dakota Legislative ‘scoreboard’ on HB 1203 – photo provided by North Dakota Human Rights Coalition

House Bill 1203, the proposal that attempted to legalize the unintentional running down of protesters blocking public roadways died in the house on Monday. Other bills created as direct responses to the DAPL controversy have passed the house and will soon be voted on in the senate: House Bill 1304, the law that would outlaw wearing ski masks and face coverings in public, House Bill 1293, the bill that would essentially legalize shooting to death trespassers even if there was space to retreat, House Bill 1426, which stiffens laws against protesters, and House Bill 1193, which prohibits “economic harm” due to disorderly conduct.  

Senate Bill 2337, a bipartisan bill that would have enacted cultural competency training for legislators was killed 26 to 20 on Tuesday. 

“A ‘disease of the mind’ has set in world leaders and many members of our global community,” Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Arvol Looking Horse said. “With their belief that a solution of retaliation and destruction of peoples will bring peace. We need to understand how all these decisions affect the global nation; we will not be immune to its repercussions.”

DAPL Easement Issued, Pipeline Work Will Soon Begin

Army Corps ignores EIS commitments, President Trump has heard no complaints about pipelines

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline Wednesday afternoon, sparking fierce criticism from tribal leaders and opened the doors to intensifying condemnation from Peace Garden State political leaders against the Standing Rock Sioux.

“On February 8, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement to Dakota Access, LLC allowing the installation of a thirty-inch diameter light crude oil pipeline under federal lands managed by the Corps at Oahe Reservoir,” Capt. Ryan Hignight reported in the Army Corps’ press release.

“The granting of this easement follows the February 7 Secretary of the Army decision to terminate the Notice of Intent to Perform an Environmental Impact Statement and notification to Congress of the Army’s intent to grant an easement to Dakota Access for the Lake Oahe crossing.”

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II was on a flight to Washington D.C. when he first heard President Trump’s remarks about hearing ‘no complaints’ from anyone regarding the continuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook page. He learned that the easement had been issued after he landed.

Archambault responded to Trump by cancelling the meeting saying, “Trump’s complete disregard for Native Nations and our treaty rights is disrespectful.”

Monthly, more than 12 million people are engaged in online discussions pertaining to the Dakota Access Pipeline, more than 590,000 petition signatures and environmental impact study statements have been submitted, and more than 15,000 calls have been made to the White House and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a tribal press release.

“And Trump says nobody spoke up.”

The news didn’t come as a surprise to the Standing Rock Sioux or to the tribe’s supporters, as the Department of the Army issued an intent to issue the easement a day earlier. Legal actions are already underway.

“We sent a letter directly to Trump, have filed a legal challenge and we stand with more than 360 Native Nations and millions of Americans who have voiced their opposition to the project,” Archambault said. “The media has widely reported the President’s brazen conflict of interest to the pipeline. His complete disregard for Native Nations and our treaty rights is disrespectful.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advertised earlier this week that testimonies would be accepted pertaining to the environmental impact statement until February 20. Additional telephone calls and emails were placed to Hignight for comment, but the captain did not reply by press time.

“We have asked for a fair, balanced and lawful environmental impact statement directly to President Trump and through the courts,” Archambault said. “The Governor, North Dakota congressional delegation, and the entire world are keenly aware of the immense opposition to this project. We encourage our allies to exercise their First Amendment rights to remind President Trump where we stand on DAPL.

“Rise with Standing Rock.”

Unity within the activists gathered has come under question after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council ordered campers away. Questions also have risen pertaining to how the tribe has been spending funds donated to the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some activists are determined to stay, but the long winter months have depleted the activist numbers on site to a few hundred, according to activist reports.

Former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell told The Washington Post that the Army Corps was “reneging” on its commitment to other federal agencies and tribal leaders.

“So the decision to not do any of that is reneging on a commitment they made [in December] and I think it’s fair to say that I’m profoundly disappointed with the Corps’ reversal of its decision to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement and consider alternative routes,” Jewell told The Washington Post. “This is a clear reversal of a commitment on the part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on something they gave thoughtful consideration to when they decided to do an environmental review.”

The Army Corps further stated in its press release that it will “ensure the portion of the pipeline that crosses Lake Oahe complies with the conditions of the easement.”

Additionally, the Army Corps is also working with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and local law enforcement to restore the area to its pre-protest state and dealing with trash and untreated waste.

Structures at former Oceti Sakowin Camp – photo by Kirsta Anderson

“The safety of those located on Corps-managed land remains our top priority, in addition to preventing contaminants from entering the waterway,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson said.

Since August 2016, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has stated repeatedly that his department and other police departments who assisted during Standing Rock’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, were concerned only with the rule of law, and not whether the pipeline was built or not.

“Today’s decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a step toward the closure necessary for pipeline construction,” Kirchmeier said. “If protestors continue to take unlawful actions in response to the Corps’ decision, law enforcement will be forced to continue to put themselves in harm’s way to enforce the rule of law. Our hope is that the new administration in Washington will now provide North Dakota law enforcement the necessary resources to bring closure to the protests. ”

A garbage pile at the former Oceti Sakowin – photo by Kirsta Anderson

Morton County Commissioner Cody Schulz fired a shot at former President Obama before condemning activists without proof for at least one crime that hasn’t been proven they committed.

“The last administration in Washington decided against granting an easement to DAPL even through the career experts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended approval and a federal court denied a request to stop it. And they refused to give North Dakota law enforcement the much needed resources to deal with professional protestors who have assaulted police officers, bullied residents, killed livestock, and angered the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for treating their land with disrespect.”

Schulz’s claim that activists slaughtered livestock refers to an incident late autumn when local bison and cattle were reported missing. State politicians, including Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. propagandized the incident, which was perpetuated by many, including the Chairman of the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council Russel Stabler

The case of missing livestock is still under investigation by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. No one has been charged with any crime related to missing livestock.

“Today’s decision from the Corps shows that this new administration will not politically meddle in a thorough review of a project that will have an enormous positive effect on the economy and public safety in our area,” Schulz said. “With professional protestors continuing to engage in criminal activities, we have new hope that we didn’t have before: an administration that will help law enforcement provide public safety for the citizens of Morton County instead of turning their backs on them.”

The conspiracy theory behind “paid protesters,” reported by Kirchmeier, Schulz, and other state politicians, stems from a news story published by the Fargo Forum and by Valley News Live on November 16, 2016. The story pertained to an anonymous Craigslist advertisement that offered to pay people cash to help shut down Fargo’s West Acres Mall. No actual protest was reported to have occurred. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department cited the Craigslist advertisement as a “vetted source.”

Since August 2016, the state has spent more than $25 million protecting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access, LLC’s interests in the 1,172-mile long pipeline, and Morton County has solicited assistance from nearly 1,300 officers from 25 North Dakota counties, 20 cities, and nine states. Nearly 700 arrests have been made.

As of January 25, 2017, more than 300 GoFundMe accounts raised a total of $8,061,614 for activists and the camps defending Standing Rock, according to Morton County officials. A total of 360 Native Nations from around the world have come together at Standing Rock since August 2016, a feat history has never seen before.

“Once again the federal government is putting oil industry profits ahead of the rights of Native American communities, clean water and combatting climate change,” Senator Bernie Sanders said on his Facebook page. “We must stop this pipeline, uphold our commitment to Native Americans and protect our planet for future generations.”

“The Wiindigo Comes in the Winter”

Rumors threaten Standing Rock and activist unity against the Dakota Access Pipeline

By C.S. Hagen 
CANNON BALL – Rumors, like the Wiindigo, are never full. They prey on the weak, devouring their kill, always hungry, gluttonous yet emaciated. 

The legendary, cannibalistic being strikes mainly during lonely winters. According to Algonquian lore it stalks the northern forests around the Great Lakes. Like rumors, the Wiindigo is difficult to kill, as its powers rise with every victim it devours. 

The rumors surrounding Standing Rock’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline are not unlike the Wiindigo legends, Winona Laduke, a long time activist said. Laduke is an economist, and two-time vice presidential candidate for Ralph Nader’s Green Party. She is also the executive director for Honor the Earth, a non-profit advocate for indigenous environmental support.

“The winter of the North Country is unforgiving, and here on my own Round Lake, the Winndigo once came and ate a man and his family,” Laduke said. “That man became the Wiindigo. That is the time now, crazy actions occur. A man on my reservation starves his three horses to death, despite many friends. At the Oceti Sakowin Camp, a woman ties her dementia plagued mother onto a chair, and leaves her, without help. It is a time when we do things we regret.” 

No excuses for such strange behaviors, Laduke said, but part of being human is to be weak. 

“In the midst of this there is no question that there is chaos, there is no question that some people are infiltrators and some are profiting off the backs of this on the front line. And who is best served by all this? The answer: North Dakota’s energy empire, the Trump Administration, and, of course, Energy Transfer Partners.”

“Not afraid to look” sculpture overlooking Oceti Sakowin by Charles Rencountre (with Charles Rencountre and LaDonna Allard)- photo provided by Winona Laduke

From the beginning of Standing Rock’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, much emphasis has been given to remaining peaceful. Those arrested for civil disobedience such as disobeying police orders or trespassing, are forms of free speech, activists say. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault encouraged civil disobedience from the beginning, and was himself arrested after trespassing on August 12, 2016. 

While the majority of activists have been peacefully protesting, even while under constant threat from Morton County’s militarized police force armed with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, some have fought back using taunts, razor wire, stones, and fire, according to authorities. Supporters attribute violent actions to agitators and federal infiltrators; the authorities use the violence as propaganda and make more arrests.

“When you are standing up against a billion dollar corporation, this is how they work,” LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard, who owns land the Sacred Stone Camp is on, said in an interview with The Young Turks. “They go into the communities and spread gossip and rumor. That’s what I am worried about. For me I will stand with anybody who stands with the water.”

Since early August, tens of thousands of people from across the world have travelled to Standing Rock, and a total of 696 arrests have been made. 

Some of the rumors include monies donated to Standing Rock’s fight. Others have used isolated actions by people inside the camps, such as the case of Kathleen Bennett, who allegedly restrained and abused her 82-year-old mother at Oceti Sakowin, as a reflection on the movement and the tribe as a whole. 

“For years, the dearth of infrastructure and poverty of Standing Rock have made it a poster child for what’s messed up in the US,” Laduke said. More than 80 percent of people in Standing Rock live below the poverty level, she said. 

“Every year it seems, people freeze to death on Standing Rock, and frankly no one noticed until now.” 

As of January 25, 2017, more than 300 GoFundMe accounts raised a total of $8,061,614 for activists and the camps. Suspicions have been raised by Morton County Sheriff’s Department on how the monies have been spent. State and county officials have made threats in the past saying those donating funds are supporting terrorist causes. 

Standing Rock issued a statement late December 2016 saying that monies it received have gone toward funding legal fees, camp infrastructure, waste management, and outdoor restrooms. 

Standing Rock supporters point to approximately $6 million donated to the tribe that is unaccountable, and are demanding that all expenditures need to be documented and made public so not to tarnish the movement. 

“The stench of malfeasance doesn’t smell any better just because it emanates from an ally,” activist Joshua Smith, from Iowa, said. “I do have to say they are still on the forefront of the legal battle challenging DAPL in court. Lateral violence is when two different factions within a given movement criticize the other in a manner which creates division and also provides those opposed to the movement reasoning to criticize us.” 

Monies have been used to bail people out, and with nearly 700 arrested, “that’s a lot of cash bail,” Laduke said. “There were drones purchased, each time the police shot down a drone, we purchased another one because someone has to keep an eye from the air. 

“A lot of people had to be fed.” 

Unity

Competing narratives exist now at what remains of the camps at Standing Rock. Archambault has asked activists to leave since shortly after December 4, 2016, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Energy Transfer Partners to halt work on the Dakota Access Pipeline, concurrently ordering an environmental impact statement to be done along parts of the pipeline’s route. 

Some say the Standing Rock Tribal Council sold the activists, or water protectors, out. Others say Archambault is looking out for the safety of his tribe. Either way, Archambault’s tone has changed since the warmer, summer months. The fight is no longer at Standing Rock, but in Washington D.C., he says.

“This pipeline is not going to kill our nation, this pipeline is not going to destroy America,” Archambault said recently on The Rock Report. “This one pipeline where people refuse to leave is not going to be detrimental to our nation.”

Water protectors’ job at Standing Rock is done, he said. The tribe has stopped supporting activists camped near the reservation, along the north side of the Cannon Ball River near to the Missouri River where the Dakota Access Pipeline plans to dig under Lake Oahe. 

“I’m not asking it to end, I’m saying that the fight is not here.” 

On February 2, Archambault posted to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Facebook page, saying that he had met with Governor Doug Burgum, whose stance against the tribe is much different than his predecessor, Jack Dalrymple. 

“There is great contrast to the previous state leaderships, these visits show that he is willing to work for all citizens of North Dakota, including tribal communities. I commend the governor for his efforts and look forward to finding solutions with him.” 

“You are a betrayer of your people,” a netizen said said on the tribe’s Facebook page. “Hang your head low. We all know you sold yourself out for money. May the demise of clean water haunt your conscience.” 

The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is just one of many fights across the nation and Canada, Archambault said. The DAPL controversy became high profile for a simple reason. 

“Standing Rock. Water is Life. Taglines. It’s easy. We can have all the water in the world and we’re not creating a better future for our kids. Water is a source of life. It is not life.” 

Allard feels betrayed, she said on her Facebook page. She said that she is not a leader, but began her fight against the pipeline because her son, Philip Levon, is buried near the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

“It has been a hard night. All I can say is we must pray hard. How do we find that unity again? How do we stand together against the Black Snake? We must stand together. I don’t have the answers. All I have is prayer.” 

Allard has been suffering from ill health, and on the day police officers and agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs entered her land at the Sacred Stone Camp, along the south side of Cannon Ball River, she was en route to a hospital with her husband, also in poor health. 

News that agents entered her land on February 2, after she denied them entry, surprised her, she said in an interview with The Young Turks. Allard and family own more than 300 acres on the south side of Cannon Ball River, where her Sacred Stone Camp is still set up. She heard rumors that Archambault authorized the federal incursion onto her lands because he said he also is a land owner there. 

“At no time did Chairman Archambault own any portion of this land,” Allard said. “What are they talking about, the Archambaults own land here? They do not.” Archambault’s wife, Nicole, is Allard’s cousin, who owns land to graze horses nearby, but not on the Sacred Stone Camp.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe disagreed. “There are two tracts of land: Army Corps of Engineers holds title to one, and the Tribe holds majority ownership of the other. Sacred Stone Camp leaders were made aware of the need for an assessment earlier this week and agreed to a site visit.” 

Allard went home and rifled through land leases, of which she personally owns three acres. The rest of the land is owned by family members, and a tribal trust – held in trust by the United States government. 

“The Archambaults hold no trust here. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe holds trust here, that does not mean the Archambaults hold land here.” Without warrants, Archambault had no right to authorize the “raid” into Sacred Stone Camp, she said. 

“The chairman did not become Trump, and Trump still does not understand his position. I am still trying to figure out how to make peace with this. There should have never been the tribe against the water protectors. We should be standing together in a unified front. What we have is gossip and rumor dividing the people. It’s like when the fur traders were here, and the fur traders again started to gossip and rumor to divide the people. And that is where we are again.” 

She sleeps little at night, stays up worrying and praying.

Another rumor circulating around Sacred Stone Camp include a pending threat of forced removal by federal officers.

The fight is growing, Allard said, and it is not only about water or sacred lands any longer. North Dakota politicians have submitted legislation to give state government more control over reservation land and mineral rights, to run over protesters on public roads, to lessen the responsibilities of corporations to report oil spills, and to criminalize ski masks in public places. 

“I will stand, and I will not back down.” 

This summer, Allard plans to start a summer camp for youth to teach history, how to live responsibly, and how to heal. 

“I don’t need any people to come and defend me, I need people to come and defend the water. I also need people to support the tribe hoping the tribe makes better decisions, and that the tribe will stand in a unified fashion with the people.

“I must stand because my son stands with me. I have no choice.” 

Last Child’s Camp 

When attorney Chase Iron Eyes moved with approximately 80 people to a western hill forming Last Child’s Camp, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Morton County condemned the group as rogue. He was arrested along with 76 others, and was released on February 3. 

He was charged with a Class C felony, inciting a riot, and his legal team is looking into the validity of the charge. Iron Eyes came out of the Morton County Correctional Facility looking tired; months at the camps and it’s apparent he has lost weight. 

“It’s no secret that Morton County, that the North Dakota law enforcement, National Guard, North Dakota media, even the governor of North Dakota, going back to Mr. Dalrymple to Burgum, and the North Dakota legislature, are colluding to villainize, dehumanize, and present the narrative that the water protectors are unlawfully camped in the area north of the Cannon Ball River, and that we are violent, that we are unruly, and indeed they are charging me with inciting a riot. But it’s clear to America, I feel, that Donald Trump is inciting a riot.” 

“Last night, a group of campers moved materials onto private land,” the Standing Rock Tribal Council said. “This group’s actions do not represent the tribe nor the original intent of the water protectors.” 

The tribe still leads the fight, but their opposition has widened to include water rights, hunting, land rights, treaty rights, not just for Standing Rock, but for all tribes, the council said. 

“It is this tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux, whose land is most at risk,” Archambault said. “It is also our court case at risk, but in reality, all our treaty rights are at risk. If we want to be treated as nations then we must behave as such. In the past few weeks at camp, I see no reflection of our earlier unity, and without unity we lose.” 

Last Child’s Camp was cleared; its tipis handed over to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

“We will fight these charges,” Iron Eyes said. “We will hold accountable Morton County and all who have brutally violated our rights. This is an SOS. Vets, warriors, and others who can stand with us in peace and dignity to exercise our inherent, treaty, constitutional, and other birthrights. Come stand with us.” 

Veterans, once again, are hearing the call. VeteransRespond, an organizer and advocator of healing to communities impacted by social injustice, is planning to return to Standing Rock. 

“VeteransRespond is in the process of organizing a return mission to Standing Rock at the wishes of LaDonna Brave Bull Allard,” the group’s GoFundMe page said. “All funds will go directly towards a rental van to transport Texas and Colorado veterans to Standing Rock to help with cleanup efforts as well as serve as a de-escalation and medical response force if needed.” 

VeteransStand also created a second GoFundMe account, and plans to return. 

“In the past two weeks the turmoil and uncertainty at Standing Rock has increased significantly,” the group said on its Facebook page. “We have had thousands of volunteers reconfirm their dedication to the cause, and readiness to help. The success of our fundraising campaign will ultimately dictate our overall potential for a boots-on-the-ground presence, but our learnings from the first mission in December have allowed us to create the right infrastructure to move quickly.” 

The time of the Wiindigo creates confusion, difficult to keep eyes on the more important issues of Native American treaty rights and stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline, Laduke said. 

Signs in the snow outside of the Standing Rock camps – photo by C.S. Hagen

“In the time of the Wiindigo, confusion, and fear prey on us all,” Laduke said. “We forget who are the enemies and who are our friends and families. Let us pray for clear minds. I plan to live through the time of the Wiindigo, and when I look back at the time of Standing Rock, I want to remember the unity, the courage, the outpouring of love for our Mother Earth, our Mni Wiconi, and how we faced the enemy.” 

“An Act of War”

Department of the Army to issue final DAPL easement by Wednesday afternoon 

By C.S. Hagen 
CANNON BALL – A digital wail resounded across the Internet Tuesday afternoon after the Department of the Army announced it would be authorizing the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. 

Claiming rights under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the Army issued an intent to grant an easement on 7.37 acres of land to Dakota Access LLC for 30 years, the letter stated. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not mentioned once in the letter from the Department of the Army, nor in a January 24 letter written by President Trump to the Secretary of the Army. 

The issuance of the easement was influenced by the letter of expedition from the White House concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that completion of the pipeline served national interest.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under development by Dakota Access, LLC, represents a substantial, multi-billion-dollar private investment in our Nation’s energy infrastructure,” Trump wrote. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul Cramer referred to Trump’s letter, waiving its policy to wait 14 days after Congressional notification to grant the easement. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map of pipeline crossing Missouri River

The easement is expected to be officially granted within 24 hours. Energy Transfer Partners is allowed to begin horizontal drilling across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, approximately one mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as soon as the easement is granted. 

Despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers January 18 filing with the Federal Register that its department would conduct an environmental impact study on the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route and easement to cross Lake Oahe, no mention was made about either the continuing testimonial session, which was announced to end February 20, or if the study would continue. 

Energy Transfer Partners, a parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reported its stock surged 0.8 percent after receiving news of the impending approval, according to Bloomberg.

The announcement sent shock waves through Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters has announced their decision to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said on their Facebook page. “We will admit that we are disappointed, but we are not defeated. We will take this to the highest court. The battle is not over and we will not be silenced.” 

The tribe plans to challenge the easement decision on the grounds that the environmental impact study was wrongfully terminated. It has asked Dakota Access LLC to disclose its oil spill and risk assessment records, and if construction continues the tribe will seek to shut down pipeline operations. 

On March 10, Standing Rock also plans to hold a Native Nations March on Washington D.C.

“As native peoples, we have been knocked down again,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. “But we will get back up, we will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact. We call on the Native Nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back. Under this administration, all of our rights, everything that makes us who we are is at risk.”  

“December 4 was no victory at all,” attorney and long time activist Chase Iron Eyes said. Iron Eyes ran for congress in North Dakota in 2016, and since November has been spending much of his time at the camps outside of Cannon Ball. 

“Trump’s Army corps approved the death of our river,” Iron Eyes said. “We didn’t win. They told us to go home because ‘we won,’ ‘our prayers were answered.’ My daughter cried tears of joy in a false, hollow, meaningless ‘victory.’ Where is your heart at? 

“Mine is going to be on the frontline on behalf of my children.” 

Sacred Stone Camp announced a Last Stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline set to begin Wednesday. 

Facebook posts expressed sorrow at the news. 

“Where are you Standing Rock?” a person by the name of Che Jim posted from Indianapolis. “Where are you Tribal Council? Where are you chairman? We were just sentenced of failure.” 

“We only have a 24-hour window that we’re going to proceed with more legal action, and people are coming back from all over,” Phyllis Young, a former councilwoman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Central Oceti Sakowin camp organizer, said in an interview made public by Digital Smoke Signals. “We are all in challenging spirit, more challenging than ever. But we are who we are, and we will do whatever we have to do to protect our homeland and our water.

“We knew this was coming. We knew the giant America is when they want their pipeline. We have experience when they built their dams, they came rushing in – the waters – and it was January. Now for them to take our water is an act of genocide, an act of war.” 

North Dakota politicians expressed support for the Army Corps’ decision. 

“As we’ve said before, the issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been at a standstill for far too long, causing uncertainty and confusion in our communities, and exacerbating tensions surrounding the pipeline’s construction,” House Democratic-NPL Leader Corey Mock said in a press release.

 “With today’s news that the Army Corps will approve the easement for the pipeline’s completion, North Dakotans finally have a measure of certainty that this process will move forward. In the immediate future, for the safety of everyone involved, all parties must heed the calls of the Standing Rock Sioux and our governor for the remaining protesters to leave the camp north of Cannonball River before flood season sets in.”

“As this issue moves toward a final resolution, we must remain committed to repairing and rebuilding relationships within our communities and with our tribal neighbors,” said Senate Dem-NPL Leader Joan Heckaman said in a press release. 

“Rebuilding trust was a priority that Governor Burgum emphasized in his State of the State address, and we continue to believe this is absolutely necessary, especially as steps are taken to complete construction of the pipeline and as flood season approaches, potentially endangering those who remain at the camps. Our highest priority must continue to be the safety of everyone involved – protesters, law enforcement, construction workers and members of the surrounding communities.”      

Dozens Arrested at Last Child’s Camp 

Police, National Guard dismantle militarized roadblock to clear newest camp near Standing Rock

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – Dozens of police and National Guard swarmed Last Child’s Camp Wednesday afternoon, arresting approximately 76 activists including attorney Chase Iron Eyes. 

Officials called those who moved to Last Child’s Camp a “rogue camp,” and that they refused to move from the hilltop south of Backwater Bridge after repeated warnings. 

“The group was told they were committing criminal trespassing on private property and needed to leave,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said. “The group was given a period of time to start dismantling the camp and leave. They did not show signs of starting to leave even after multiple warnings… this led to the law enforcement decision to take action to enforce the law and evict the rogue group of protesters.” 

Representative from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe coordinated with Morton County Sheriff’s Department, according to Kirchmeier, and collected the tipis from the camp site. Some media were reporting police burned tipis posting a picture from the movie “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” Wednesday night. 

No tipis were burned; police did not enter the main camp area, and military vehicles were turned around at dusk. Morton County Sheriff’s Department took down the militarized barrier on Highway 1806 to make the incursion, and then replaced barriers on the north and south sides of the bridge after the operation was finished. 

Those arrested were taken to Morton County Correctional Center, Mercer County Jail in Stanton, Cass County Jail in Fargo, Stutsman County Correctional Center in Jamestown, and the Barnes County Correctional Center in Valley City. 

Iron Eyes was anticipating a move by police earlier Wednesday morning when coals were taken from Oceti Oayte Camp’s fire and moved up the hill to start a new sacred fire at Last Child’s Camp. He is an attorney, and ran for Congress against Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in 2016. Iron Eyes has spent the bitter winter months since November primarily at the camps pitched against the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

“I won’t diminish anyone’s struggle,” Iron Eyes said. “I will be honored to stand next to them. They gave up their lives, their families, their comforts, jobs, college, they traveled thousands of miles with the clothes on their backs, they have sacrificed and they are ready to face the enemy. 

“This is an unarmed revolution.” 

Iron Eyes’ wife, Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, was found guilty on the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in Morton County District Court around the same time her husband was arrested Wednesday. Her charge stemmed from early August when Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II was also arrested. Motions to consider free speech rights and change of venue were denied. 

“I think we did not really expect much from Morton County trial, but we gave it our best,” Jumping Eagle said. Jumping Eagle is a pediatrician and the clinical director at Fort Yates Hospital. “A lot of us are feeling a bit of relief that this is over for now. We all have suspended sentences, some people received fines.” 

Since August, a total of 696 arrests have been made, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department. 

On Tuesday, the Acting Secretary of the Army, Robert Speer, directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe despite the pending environmental impact study, according to Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D. 

Is The Pen is Mightier Than The Law?

Trump’s Administration orders Army Corps to issue long-embattled final easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, Veterans Stand may return to Standing Rock

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL
–  Nearly two months after the Standing Rock’s victory against big oil, Trump’s Administration is trying to take it away. 

Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D. reported the Army Corps has been ordered to proceed with the easement needed under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. 

“Today, the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Hoeven said. “This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.”

No mentions were made by Hoeven of negotiations, or of a reroute, or of the current environmental impact study issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Earlier in January, President Trump also signed executive orders reviving the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to expedite studies pertaining to environmental impact. 

The decision to issue the go-ahead clashes with the environmental impact study, which could take months or years to complete. A comment period is currently underway and will continue until February 20, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. 

Thousands, and then hundreds of activists remained at Oceti Oyate, or All Nations Camp, outside of Cannon Ball during the freezing winter months in opposition to the pipeline. Due to cleanup efforts and impending spring floods, the main camp is emptying. 

Coals from the Oceti Oyate were carried to western high ground Wednesday morning, attorney and long-term activist Chase Iron Eyes reported. 

“This is the start of what’s called Last Child’s Camp,” Iron Eyes said. “That name was chosen to honor Crazy Horse and the only warrior society he was known to create. For many reasons, one of those reasons being the last children that are born usually have it harder and have to struggle more.

“Our conscience won’t let us back down. DAPL seeks to bring death to our children. The easement to drill under the river is set to be granted. Ready our hearts.” 

Iron Eyes called upon anyone interested and strong enough to endure the remaining cold months to join them.

Activists surround new fire at the Last Child’s Camp – video still provided by Chase Iron Eyes

Archambault has written to President Trump at least twice asking for a face-to-face meeting between leaders. All requests have not been answered, Archambault said. 

“This change in course is arbitrary and without justification,” Archambault wrote in a letter to President Trump. “The law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the President’s whim. It makes it even more difficult when one considers the close personal ties you and your associates have had with Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco.”

President Trump and Hoeven, along with other North Dakota politicians, stand to gain financially if the pipeline is completed. 

“Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners,” according to Bloomberg. “That’s down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier.”

Trump also owns up to $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access Pipeline. Owner and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, Kelcy Warren, contributed $3,000 to Trump’s campaign plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy, and $66,800 to the Republican National Committee. 

In 2016, Hoeven’s largest campaign contributor was the oil and gas sector with a total of $327,963, including Continental Resources, Inc. and its CEO, Harold Hamm, who collectively donated $8,200. The Hess Corp contributed a total of $20,800 to Hoeven’s 2016 campaign. ExxonMobil contributed $10,000, and Whiting Petroleum Corporation contributed $2,750. Energy Transfer Partners donated $5,000 to Hoeven’s 2016 campaign. Hoeven has invested in 68 different oil-producing wells in North Dakota listed under the 2012-company Mainstream Investors, LLC, according to the United States Senate financial disclosure form.

In a move many deem contradictory because of apparent disregard to Standing Rock’s repeated petitions, Hoeven, a long-time supporter of pipelines, was also elected chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on January 5, according to a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs press release.

Hoeven said he was honored to serve on the committee, but added two of his top priorities were to address job creation and natural resource management issues on native lands. He has also called upon federal assistance, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to clear the camps outside of Cannon Ball. 

“We are also working with the Corps, the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security to secure additional federal law enforcement resources to support state and local law enforcement,” Hoeven said. “On Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local authorities. Also, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has asked the protesters to leave the campsite on Corps land.

“This has been a difficult issue for all involved, particularly those who live and work in the area of the protest site, and we need to bring it to a peaceful resolution.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a long-time advocate of the 1,172-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline, said in press releases he couldn’t be happier with the way the government under President Trump is heading. 

“The meddling by the Obama Administration in trying to block this legally permitted project has encouraged civil disobedience, threatened the safety of local residents, and placed an onerous financial burden on local law enforcement – with no offer of federal reimbursement for these increasing costs,” Cramer said. “Legally permitted infrastructure projects must be allowed to proceed without threat of improper governmental interference. Finally we have a President who will stand by our efforts in Congress to bring common sense to an immigration policy in dire need of reform.” 

The Indigenous Environmental Network condemned the order given to the Army Corps. 

“We are falling into a dangerous place where the United States government makes up its own rules,” the network stated in a press release. The Indigenous Environmental Network is a nonprofit organization and supporter of Standing Rock and other environmental and indigenous issues.

“We are disgusted but not surprised by the Secretary of the Army’s decision to recommend the easement on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead of following proper legal procedure and completing the Environmental Impact Study, the Army has chosen to escalate an already tense situation, go against their own processes, and potentially put peoples in harm’s way.

“Trump and his climate denying cabinet are clearly doing what is best for their businesses and are willing to put profit before human rights and the environment. But make no mistake: we are prepared to mobilize and resist this brazen power grab.”

A group identified as Veterans Stand said it will continue to support Standing Rock and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“In response to recent aggressions and the passing of legislation which clears the way for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Veterans Stand is announcing that we will continue operations in support of the people of Standing Rock, the Water Protectors who have held the front lines, and the sustainability of our precious environment.

“In the spirit of service, and in the name of a free and evolutionary sustainable America, Veterans Stand is committed to ensuring that no human or civil rights violations go unchecked, that the voices of the people are truly heard, and that we leave behind a stable and unpolluted environment for future generations.”

Rodent Poison Spread by North Dakota Rancher Not Cause for “DAPL Cough” 

President Trump signs executive orders authorizing DAPL and other US oil pipelines

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL
– Around the time Standing Rock’s first camp was pitched against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a deadly poison was spread across thousands of acres in the area by a rancher intent on killing prairie dogs. 

Six eagles, a buffalo, prairie dogs, and an antelope may have died because of the poison, investigators from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe report. Questions have arisen as to whether humans who traveled to the area last year, now suffering from what is known as the “DAPL cough,” also were affected. 

More than 40,000 pounds of the poison Rozol Prairie Dog Bait, an anticoagulant rodenticide, were purchased by rancher David Meyer, of Flasher, North Dakota, and a portion was spread across more than 5,408 acres of pasturelands, including the Wilder Ranch and the Cannonball Ranch, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

In early April 2016, investigators spotted the bright bluish poison spread across large areas of pastureland, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Rozol is manufactured by Liphatech Inc., and has as its most active ingredient chlorophacinone, which if ingested or inhaled causes a slow, painful by internal bleeding, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The poison is also deadly to humans if consumed. 

More than 20,000 people from 350 indigenous tribes from across the world passed though the camps setup by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline since August 2016. Some environmental watchdogs are concerned the poison was spread to people through ingestion of bison meat, as many activists complain of bloody noses, fatigue, and in some cases coughing up blood. The symptoms are referred to colloquially as the “DAPL cough,” according to a January 23 press release from Save the Buffalo Nation, the operating arm of the nonprofit environment advocate Mother Earth Trust.

Standing Rock’s first camp, the Sacred Stone Camp, began April 1, and the poison was spread approximately the same time, Standing Rock Sioux Director of Environmental Development Allyson Two Bears said. 

“But not anywhere near any of the camps,” Two Bears said. “There was some acreage that was applied on the Cannonball Ranch.” Two Bears wasn’t sure if the poison was spread across 20 parcels of the ranch land sold to Energy Transfer Partners last October, and which was also the location where private security hired by Frost Kennels illegally used dogs to attack activists. 

“It was misapplication, so there was a cleanup that was done, and it was remediated before the main camp was setup,” Two Bears said.

“There are some misconstrued facts. There was 40,000 pounds of purchased by the Meyer Ranch, but not all of it was applied.” Most of the poison was spread in areas in South Dakota, with a smaller portion on the Cannonball Ranch. 

The closest activists came to the poison was on September 3, the day of the attack dogs. Two Bears said it would be nearly impossible for any humans to have been affected by the poison. 

“You would literally have to eat it in order for it to be a lethal dose to you. I imagine you would have to eat a large quantity of it and it would probably have had to die from the poison itself.”

Many nearby ranches donated bison and other meat to the camp last year, Two Bears said. 

“By no means, there are no connections between any of the bison that were donated or provided to the camp throughout the summer. None of the animals that were involved… were exposed to any of the sites. 

“I want to squash that fear now, none of the bison that were donated to the people at the camps were from any of these ranches.”

State investigators and politicians including Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have also pointed fingers at Standing Rock and the tribe’s supporters over the disappearance of cattle and buffalo from the area. 

“I know some of the information about cattle disappearance,” Two Bears said. “And I question the integrity of those reports. It’s all been a part of the story that they are trying to write out to paint the picture of protectors being bad people. 

“There are planes flying over daily. If this many bison were killed at the camp, it would not go unnoticed.” The case of missing cattle and bison is still under investigation by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association.

The narrative local authorities and state politicians are trying to paint stems from recent corruption at the state’s highest ranks, Two Bears said. 

“It goes completely against North Dakota values. We have been corrupt for several years now just because of the oil development here in North Dakota and what that brings.”

Meyers faces hefty fines for the misapplication of the poison, but the case is still in litigation, Two Bears said. Meyer could not be reached for comment. 

Welcome to the Peace Garden State – DAPL front lines – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

Standing Rock’s other issues 

On Tuesday, President Trump signed three executive orders pertaining to oil pipeline infrastructure. 

“Something that has been in dispute,” Trump said before signing the Keystone Pipeline executive order. “We’re going to renegotiate some of the terms, and if they like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs.” 

He signed the order, and then turned to the Dakota Access Pipeline executive order. “Again, subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us,” Trump said. 

Attorney Chase Iron Eyes spoke on CBS News pertaining to President Trump’s executive orders. 

“It’s clear that Donald Trump is going to represent some of the corporate interests that are seeking to privatize and further stratify the economic injustice that is happening right now on the ground in the state North Dakota in the most significant struggle we feel since the Civil Rights era, since the armed Wounded Knee occupation, since the Occupy Movement. Now he’s signaling that he’s willing to take it to the next level. 

“It’s something that we on the ground anticipated, but it’s going to become a stark and harsh reality, and we are prepared for the fight because we feel that Americans need to stand up for clean water and to determine our own destiny. Standing Rock is going to become a focal point for all of these struggles.” 

Two Bears is concerned about President Trump’s projected policies pertaining to energy infrastructure and environmental issues, including a possible freeze on environmental protection grants. 

“There’s a big fight coming,” Two Bears said. “With this and the administration that’s coming in, we could very well be looking at cuts in essential programs like pesticides that work with applicators that could avoid situations like misapplications. We have to ensure programs are still there and this administration keeps these programs and regulations in order like the US EPA so we can ensure we have the health and safety of everybody. Had we not had the EPA and the pesticide program, we would not have had the route to perform an investigation and ensure that there would not be further exposure.”

Although Standing Rock won victories on December 4 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted Energy Transfer Partners’ drilling under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe and then registered its Environmental Assessment Impact study on January 18, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II issued a deadline for all activists to leave the Standing Rock area by January 30. Services, including ports potties, have been cancelled. 

“Yesterday the tribe passed a resolution brought forward by the Cannon Ball District which asked that no camps remain in the Cannonball District,” Archambault said. “For this reason, we ask the protectors to vacate the camps and head home with our most heartfelt thanks. Much work will be required to clean up before the spring thaw, which will flood the area. It is imperative we clean the camps and restore them to their original state before this flooding occurs.”

LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard, an owner of the Sacred Stone Camp lands, refused to move. 

“The DAPL supporters betrayed by our own people,” she said in a Facebook post.

Iron Eyes, who ran for congress against Cramer last year, said people at the camps are “on edge.  

“If you can, come out here,” Iron Eyes said on Tuesday. “We need you. It’s much easier to fight the most powerful empire on earth without a war chest, than your own people with all the money in the world.” 

There are still up to 500 remaining people in the camps, Iron Eyes said. “Out there in pop media it appears the struggle is over, the tribe has asked people to leave, but hundreds of us have vowed to stay.” 

Funds raised by Standing Rock Tribe over the past six months have been spent on rebuilding the tribe’s economy, particularly with investments focused on jobs, youth, and elder programs, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Council reported. 

“Due to Morton County’s blocking of the bridge and the significant drop in tribal business revenues, as well as incurred expenses, we are facing a difficult time financially. While this movement benefits native rights nationwide especially regarding infrastructure projects, at this time, our Tribe has borne the brunt of the cost.” 

Although Archambault and Governor Doug Burgum have met to discuss issues, Archambault said that the state’s true agenda is clear. 

“The state claims they want to work closely with the tribe on repairing our relationship with them,” Archambault said. “Clearly that is not happening when legislation that impacts us is being drafted without consultation, consent or even basic communication.”

During the state’s legislative assembly in January, the Peace Garden State postponed House Bill 2154, or North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative, and introduced other bills including House Bill 1203, hoping to legalize the unintentional running down and killing of individuals obstructing vehicular traffic on public roads, House Bill 1151, which would exempt oil companies from reporting spills less than 420 gallons, House Bill 1304, which attempted to make illegal the wearing of ski masks on public roads in North Dakota, and Senate Bill 2315, an act that proposes the legalization of killing a violent intruder even if escape was possible or when trying to escape arrest after committing a violent felony.  

“This Is Not A War” 

Standing Rock activists closing in on DAPL drill pad, law enforcement bring in an Avenger weapon system

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL
– Inch by inch, coil by razor-tipped coil, Standing Rock activists near the Dakota Access Pipeline drill pad.  

During the past week marches launched from the main camp outside of Standing Rock targeted the east side of the pipeline near the Missouri River and Backwater Bridge, which is still militarized with razor wire, cement blocks, and recently the addition of an Avenger weapon system – a lightweight surface-to-air missile unit capable of being armed with eight Stinger missiles in two missile pods, courtesy of the North Dakota Army National Guard.

Avenger weapon system on hill over main camp (Avenger at right) – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

“We are getting to them,” an activist who goes by the name of Nataanii Means said on his Facebook page. “We began exerting our treaty rights when beginning to clear the bridge of unnecessary barbed wire. We were there in peace and prayer, although we know from months of interactions with militarized police, they will get violent against us even when we are unarmed.”

Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported activists came within 700 feet of the drill pad on Tuesday. In two days time, 37 people were arrested, bringing the total arrested to 624, according to law enforcement. Law enforcement were flanked repeatedly as activists attempted to gain access to the DAPL drill pad, and “less-than-lethal force” was used, Morton County Sheriff’s Department said. 

Bean bag rounds, pepper spray, impact sponge rounds, and riot control smoke was deployed. Six police officers and National Guard units were injured; one activist was hit in the face and was transported by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck. Charges against those arrested ranged from carrying a concealed weapon, criminal trespass, physical obstruction of a government function, and preventing arrest. 

Activists nearing DAPL drill pad – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

“Last night our officers faced the same type of hostility and aggression that we have been subjected to for the past six months, “said Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler.

“It is unfortunate that these protesters are now engaging in nightly riots that impede law enforcement’s ability to facilitate the important clean-up efforts requested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Morton County citizens,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.

“These front liners don’t back down,” long time activist and attorney Chase Iron Eyes said. He has spent much of the winter so far at the camps assisting and organizing survival and water protection issues. “They are considered ‘illegal trespassers’ on their own treaty land and on a public right of way, which should be open. They have heart. Our kids look up to them as role models and I’m perfectly fine with that. May we always walk without fear.”

Backwater Bridge was investigated for damage by the Department of Transportation and was considered “structurally sound” on January 12. 

On Wednesday night, activists said North Dakota Army National Guard and law enforcement shot friends in the back and in the face as they were running away. 

“This is not a war,” Alisha Ali Vincent said. “Somebody should tell them that.”

Snowballs, ice, and razor wire Frisbees were used to taunt law enforcement, officials said. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department verified activists were making Frisbees out of razor wire taken down by activists. Video footage filmed by law enforcement also show activists shoving at the police line after removing protective razor wire. 

“Protesters cut through and removed security wire they then crafted it into circular, Frisbee shapes and were throwing it at law enforcement at the front line,” Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported. Deflating devices were also placed on Highway 1806 near Huff. 

“In response to rumors that an Avenger vehicle is in place to shoot down drones, the North Dakota Army National Guard does have an Avenger system employed in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest,” Morton County Sheriff’s Department said. “These systems are used strictly for observation of ungoverned encampments to help protect private property and maintain public safety in southern Morton County, ND.  The systems have no munitions; further, there is no authority to arm these vehicles with munitions.”

Activists said law enforcement and military personnel ambushed activists Wednesday night. Vincent was talking on the phone with a friend standing at Backwater Bridge when the offensive began. 

“After 40 minutes of peace and calm, those officers did not have to approach from both sides and from the back shooting people 500 feet away in the back, and in the back of the legs so they would fall down,” Vincent said. “Running after them and zip tying their hands and dragging them off. They didn’t deserve that.”

Activists on Backwater Bridge – photo provided by Johnny Dangers

Myron Dewey, an activist and a filmmaker from Digital Smoke Signals, saw footage of the marches. 

“An ‘aha’ moment came up of many of the actions that came before,” Dewey said. “When the police start to get violent like this, something is happening in the background. Morton County is like the Pinkerton oil police, they’re distracting what’s really happening at the drill pad. They’re getting desperate and they’re trying to distract us.

“These guys are going to rely on the Trump administration, and they’re doing certain things by trying to not have an environmental impact study done.” 

Dewey also told listeners through a video to be mindful of staying in prayer, and to evict anyone threatening violence. 

Testimonies at the state capitol in Bismarck on Wednesday pertaining to the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy showed the state is not stopping its hardline tactics against Standing Rock and supporters. The state borrowed more money from the Bank of North Dakota, making the total used so far $25 million, Senator Ray Holmberg, R-N.D., said. 

Razor wire Frisbee – photo provided by Morton County Sheriff’s Department

Governor Doug Burgum urged activists to leave the area, citing potential flooding concerns and strained relationships between the tribe and state. 

“The Dakota Access Pipeline protests began with a legitimate debate around issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including protecting our valuable water resources and a desire for genuine government-to-government consultation,” Burgum said. “Those original concerns have been hijacked by those with alternative agendas.” 

Due to the lack of in-state public defenders for those arrested on charges related to the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, the North Dakota Supreme Court authorized out-of-state lawyers to represent pipeline protesters in criminal cases on Wednesday.

Additionally, this week North Dakota Legislature introduced House Bills 1203 and 1304 in what some state politicians deem a “knee-jerk” reaction to the controversy. 

House Bill 1203 states:  “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a driver of a motor vehicle who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway is not guilty of an offense.”

House Bill 1304 states: “An individual, with the intent to conceal that individual’s identity, may not wear a mask, hood, or other device that covers, hides, or conceals any portion of that individual’s face while…” on a lane, walkway, alley, street, road, highway, or public highway, on public property or appearing on or within public property, and during demonstrations.

Deflating devices on Highway 1806 – Morton County Sheriff’s Department

A violation would be considered a class A misdemeanor, according to the legislative submission.  

“Most outside of Morton County may think that because the cameras are gone and the celebrities have stopped showing up that everything has returned to normal here, but make no mistake, there remains a contingent of professional protesters still looking to escalate the ongoing situation in our county and make the lives of our citizens that much more difficult,” Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported. 

“Due to this criminal activity, the ND Highway 1806 roadway north of the bridge will remain closed until federal law enforcement is introduced into the protest camp to restore law and order.”

US Senator Calls on BIA to Clear Anti-DAPL Camps

Standing Rock supporters living with record snowfalls and freezing temperatures remain undaunted

By C.S. Hagen
BISMARCK – North Dakota National Guard units, 1,300 law enforcement officers,  585 arrests, and 22 million dollars apparently isn’t enough for the Peace Garden State to stop Standing Rock’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, politicians report. 

State politicians are now calling on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to help remove activists from camps along the Cannonball River.

“We want more BIA law enforcement officers working with our state and local law enforcement to move protestors off the Corps land in an orderly way,” Senator John Hoeven R-N.D., said. 

All of Hoeven’s guns are blazing as in the same breath he admitted to “working forward” with President-elect Donald Trump’s Administration on the pipeline project, with the US Department of Interior nominee Ryan Zinke R-Mont., and with the BIA’s new director Bruce Loudermilk to discuss the quick dispersal of activists against the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a federal agency established in 1824 under the jurisdiction of the US Department of the Interior. 

Hoeven’s petition to add more officers to the standoff between law enforcement and anti-DAPL activists is in preparation for potential spring floods, which according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Michael Mathews is still months away. Snowfalls have reached record depths of 55.3 inches this winter for the Bismarck area, Mathews said, and old man winter shows no signs of slowing down.

The State Water Commission reported a growing potential for spring floods of the main Dakota Access Pipeline camp location, putting the activists camped there at risk, State Engineer Garland Erbele said.  

Mathews could make no predictions about spring flooding. “It’s too early to tell,” Mathews said. “We don’t have much in the way of snowfall for the next couple of days. February stays pretty cold, and usually that goes through March or April, sometimes even May. It’s just too early to tell.” 

“It would be a pretty big hardship to take that on right now,” Winona Laduke said of Hoeven’s petition to clear the camps. Laduke is a longtime environmentalist, economist, and two-time vice presidential candidate for Ralph Nader’s Green Party. She is also the executive director for Honor the Earth, a non-profit advocate for indigenous environmental support.“Most of the native people have a long understanding of weather patterns, and wise decisions will be made by people who have lived there for thousands of years.”

“I think this is just a total inappropriate overreaction of our US government and military, it continues the mismanagement that started with Governor Dalrymple in calling out the National Guard,” Barry Nelson said. He is an organizer for the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. “The tradition continues.” 

Although Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II has asked for activists to return home, hundreds remain at the camps along the Cannonball River in below freezing temperatures.

“It appears that the new management at the camp have it under control, why not trust them?” Nelson said. “They’re demonstrating some realistic and reasonable approaches to this, we should trust their instincts. Why not going down and show some concern? No, let’s just lob something from Washington DC. 

“A threat.”

Like a much anticipated prize fight, heavyweight North Dakota, pitted against welterweight Standing Rock, has delivered blow after crushing blow, and yet the tribe refuses to go down. 

From the beginning of the controversy, former Governor Jack Dalrymple has lied to HPR Magazine about meeting with Archambault on a regular basis. The former governor also declared a state of emergency in August 2016, utilizing approximately 1,300 officers from 25 North Dakota counties, 20 cities, and nine states have been used to keep anti-DAPL activists in check. Half truths, falsehoods, and some truths have been reported on both sides of the front lines. An unarmed activist was placed on Morton County’s Most Wanted List and later arrested for disarming a fully-armed infiltrator in November. 

Sophie Linda Landin – “Tolerance by Oppression” – wet plate by Shane Balkowitsch

Activists have been torn from prayer circles, maced, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, bean bags, beaten with clubs, on lands the Standing Rock Sioux still claim as their own. Men and women have been arrested, “branded” with numbers using magic markers like cattle, or Nazi inmates during World War II, and then thrown into dog cages. Hundreds have been injured. Many more lack proper legal counsel. 

The list continues. Another uppercut was delivered to Standing Rock on January 5 when Hoeven was elected chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, according to a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs press release. After attempting to thwart Native American voices from the DAPL controversy’s beginning, the blow was called a cheap shot by many. 

Hoeven, a former North Dakota governor, an active supporter of the Keystone Pipeline and the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, said he was honored to serve on the committee, but added two of his top priorities were to address job creation and natural resource management issues on native lands. 

“One would assume with Indian affairs you would have someone who would have genuine concern of Indian people,” Laduke said. 

Despite Standing Rock’s win on December 4 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, the easement needed to drill across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the tribe has had few legal victories to celebrate.

As Trump prepares to take office on January 20, threatening to dismantle President Obama’s work, and reactivating pipelines across the nation, few activists appear worried. 

“It’s happening fam,” attorney and long term activist Chase Iron Eyes said. “We’re going to defeat an empire. We have nothing to lose but the poverty imposed on us. We have nothing to gain but our dignity.” 

As Trump promises a better tomorrow by nominating white supremacists and oil tycoons, Senator Heidi Heitkamp R-N.D., issued a statement asking for North Dakotans input. 

“Any president should be able to nominate those who he feels will best serve in his administration,” Heitkamp said. “It’s critical for me to hear from North Dakotans and I encourage folks to visit my website to share their comments and offer questions they have to help make sure the nominees are prepared to lead our country.” 

More Than News is Fake News

Fake news is on the rampage across the nation, including inside the Peace Garden State

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – The time-honored Fourth Estate, governments’ watchdog for centuries, faces an enemy more brutal than any dictator.

Fake news.

Governments, police departments, and corporations all spread their versions of truth, propaganda, that many in the Peace Garden State accept as irrefutable truth. Their reports must be scrutinized at least as much as private reports if journalists are to live up to the title first given by British politician Edmund Burke in 1797.

A new group, recently recognized as the Fifth Estate, consisting of bloggers, non-mainstream journalists, and social media, received steroids with the Internet’s birth. Some argue the Fifth Estate was conceived in 1975 with the birth of a periodical by the same name in Detroit, Michigan.

Their information is fast, sometimes live; the reporters savvy, willing to go where few mainstream journalists dare. They’re typically biased, covering only one side of a story, and their reports are clicked on social media platforms such as Facebook.

Comet Ping Pong pizzeria – online sources

Fake news reports on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram led to the December 5 arrest of Edgar Welch after he read that Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in northwest Washington, was harboring young children as sex slaves as part of a child-abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton.

Fact-checker Snopes.com recently unveiled what they believe is a hoax about a terminally ill child dying in Santa Claus’ lap, first printed by the Knoxville News-Sentinel and later by USA Today.

Closer to home, information disseminated by both sides of the Dakota Access Pipeline contains far less humor, but is on a par nationwide for conspiracy theories, retired rancher and former candidate for the North Dakota House of Representative Tom Asbridge said.

Misinformation is “to a very large extent at the state and county level here,” Asbridge said. “I don’t think the protesters have figured out how to do it very well. I would suggest that Morton County is well organized, and they’re getting their press releases way far away from Morton County.

“That’s right here at home,” Asbridge said. “It is so easy today apparently to do fake news. Partly because it is so easy to disseminate stuff, and it goes around the public in an eye blink, and I really don’t know what our defenses are against it when you have a population incapable of thinking.”

Asbridge is a baby boomer, and remembers grade school’s atomic bomb drills and threats of Soviet communist invasion. He believes the CIA’s claim that Russia assisted President-elect Donald Trump’s election is fake news, partly because the CIA is well known to be a campaign influencer.

The Fifth Estate’s rise heralds a paradigm shift that is altering informational sources, newly elected Governor Doug Burgum said during his first day speech to cabinet members and press.

“There’s a whole battle going on around abundance of information and that’s the world all our agencies in the state have to learn to play in,” Burgum said. “We have to become more sophisticated in how we think about communicating not only with our constituents here, but how do we communicate to the world.” He also called upon the government to “stop defending institutions, and start reinventing them.”

Burgum said the paradigm shift for information is altering the need for brick and mortar schools and universities. Information today can be obtained anywhere, which effectively questions the use behind future houses of learning. “We have to look at everything through a new lens.”

In his first-day message Burgum plans to organize the information and misinformation pertaining to DAPL, and begin meeting with tribal leaders immediately. He further called upon the White House to authorize the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Failing to finish it will send a chilling statement to those in any industry who wish to invest in our state and play by the rules… If the current administration will not act then I will ask the Trump administration for the same thing.”

 

The official version

Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the Peace Garden State claim they are following rule of law, and have stated repeatedly no one but police officers have been injured during confrontations because the injuries have not been verified by their own agencies. Activists using live video streams and posted mostly on Facebook heatedly condemn the state’s tactics and their reports on many issues.

To counter the information coming against them, former Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley stated before Fargo’s City Commissioners and Mayor Tim Mahoney that there are no verified reports of injured activists. Additionally, Morton County has begun posting video footage primarily featuring Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney describing the situation to viewers. The videos are entitled “Know the Truth,” and are reports coming from what both sides call the frontlines a short distance from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

“Protesters are using social media to get their agitator message to the public,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said. “‘Know the Truth’ is a series of videos to provide the public with accurate and factual information coming directly from my agency. These are short narratives that will tell you the real story of what’s occurring in our communities.”

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported on its Facebook page that false social media accounts have been claiming to be their department, and is working with Facebook and Twitter to disperse accurate information.

“Both organization have been working closely with us to shut down these sites that are promoting false rumors and hatred.”

On November 12, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerburg said his company’s goal is to give everyone a voice.

“After the election, many people are asking whether fake news contributed to the result, and what our responsibility is to prevent fake news from spreading,” Zuckerburg said. “These are very important questions and I care deeply about getting them right.

“We don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook.”

Mark Zuckerburg – Facebook profile

Facebook has begun flagging hoaxes and fake news. “Identifying truth is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted.”

On December 15, Facebook announced they’re making the process of reporting hoaxes easier, by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post. They’ve also initiated a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories to the Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles.

Poynter, a journalistic training and strengthening organization, said it will base its assessments on five principles: commitments to nonpartisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and organization, transparency of methodology, and open and honest corrections.

 

A wanted man

One DAPL controversy that has been the target of polarized reports is the October 27 arrest of Kyle Thompson, a Bismarck man who worked security for Thompson-Gray LLC, according to paperwork found in his truck. Brandishing a semi-automatic AR-15, he was run off the road while speeding toward Oceti Sakowin or the Seven Council Fires camp, was disarmed by activists, and arrested by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Brennon Nastacio – Facebook

Law enforcement released him soon after his arrest calling him a victim; activists said Thompson was an agitator and a terroristic threat. The man who initially disarmed Thompson has made the Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s Top Ten Most Wanted List. Brennon Nastacio, a Pueblo Native American, is the man officials want to arrest. He faces charges of felony terrorizing.

“To be on Morton County’s most wanted list sends me a message that Morton County doesn’t care about the people at the camp,” Nastacio said. “They would have rather let Kyle Thompson come in and shoot everybody at camp than for me to disarm him. I hope they realize that I saved lives that day, and drop this arrest warrant that they have out for me. You know, I approached Kyle Thompson to disarm him because I was concerned about the safety of the camp.”

 

An injured women

A more recent incident involved New Yorker Sohpia Wilansky, 21, who was hauling water to the front line when a concussion grenade thrown by police nearly took her arm off, Standing Rock Medic Healer Council reported.

Sophia Wilansky – Facebook page photo

Morton County and the Peace Garden State deny the accusation, saying they reported no incidents of activists harmed by law enforcement’s less-than-lethal armaments. Wilansky was injured by an explosion from the activists’ side, Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported, even after many eyewitnesses came forward saying that Wilansky was first struck with a rubber bullet, and then targeted by a compression grenade while she was on the ground. Another eyewitness said she was hit first by a rubber bullet, and then by the grenade as she crossed the guardrail south of Backwater Bridge, approximately 30 feet from the frontline.

Bismarck Police Sgt. Noah Lindlow attempted to counter the statements on Morton County Sheriff’s Department “Know the Truth” campaign.

“We’re here today to attempt to dispel some of the misinformation that’s been on social media about the less lethal munitions out at the North Dakota DAPL protest site,” Lindlow said.

He fired a rubber bullet, tear gas, which he called CS gas, threw a flash sound diversionary device, called a concussion grenade. He tossed the grenade 15 feet away, the metal canister exploded, but did not shatter.

Sophia Wilansky’s injured arm on December 13, 2016, 22 days after being hit by non-lethal weapons – Facebook page photo

Many posts on social media and legitimate news sources claimed that Wilansky lost her left arm.

Wilansky posted a picture of her arm on December 13, pointing out the bullet wound from where she was shot “right before I was hit with the grenade,” she said. She has undergone intensive surgeries, black rods are screwed into her bones to hold them in place, she was on blood thinners to halt clots, and veins and skin from across her body has been used to replace and repair tissues in her arm.

 

You decide

Law enforcement involved in Morton County began preparing for riot control long before many of the arrests began.

According to August 18, 2016 invoices from Streicher’s in Minneapolis, the Bismarck Police Department ordered 255 riot-control ammunition rounds including military-style canister max-smoke grenades, 40mm exact impact sponge rounds, continuous discharge CS gas for riot control – many of which the department ordered as “need a rush for protest.” Streicher’s has been providing gear and tactical products for law enforcement and public safety officials since 1953, according to its website.

Morton County has stated activists are making pipe bombs, and using horses to charge police lines.

Activists stated they were smoking sacred pipes, not making pipe bombs, and the horse show was a traditional ceremony for introducing their horses.

Morton County stated their use of water cannons were to put out fires at Backwater Bridge. Activists stated they made fires to keep warm.

Morton County stated Backwater Bridge is unsafe, and activists are dangerous.

Activists said they’re peacefully protesting and protecting water rights among other issues.

Activists are butchering buffalo; buffaloes, once an endangered species, are deemed sacred beasts by Native Americans. State politicians primarily Congressman Kevin Cramer R-N.D., made implications that activists were responsible for the butchered buffalo, but the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association reported the case is still under investigation.

Former Governor Jack Dalrymple published an editorial in the StarTribune on December 15 saying mob rule triumphed over law and common sense and a “weak-kneed Army Corps” days after praising the US Army Corps of Engineers and law enforcement agencies during an address before state legislature.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline… has been marred by a steady stream of misinformation and rumor,” Dalrymple stated. He stated that “not one person from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe attended any meetings or public hearings during the 13-month review process.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II refuted the argument after posting audio feed of a meeting the tribe attended. He has also been accused of “selling out” the movement by asking people to go home in the face of deadly Dakota blizzards, and for accepting monies from Energy Transfer Partner’s CEO Kelcy Warren, according to the Billings Gazette.

Supplies were being stored in a warehouse belonging to the tribe, but the goods were stored due to the first blizzard when UPS and FedEx delivery semis were unable to make drop offs at the former Oceti Sakowin, now known as the All Nations Camp.

Dalrymple’s office also stated they are in constant contact with the tribe, but after requests for records made by HPR Magazine the governor’s office reported they have had no contact with Archambault during the most intense weeks of the standoff.

 

Truth

Satirical news websites such as The Onion and the China Daily Show have had their reports circulated across the world, and in at least two cases plagiarized by credible newspapers such as China’s central government’s mouthpiece, the China Daily.

At a glance, websites like the China Daily Show appear legitimate, headlining stories such as “Japan halts porn exports to China over Diaoyu controversy” and “Tainted milk causes Chinese women to ‘grow breasts.’” The design is professional, like any other online news source. A short dig into the site reveals the content is witty satire, and that its office is located in a Ukrainian warship.

In the same light pictures can easily be mistaken for truth. Tampered pictures create rumors. Rumors spark fear. Fear spreads lies, and if enough half-truths are told, people begin to believe, attorney Chase Iron eyes said. Iron Eyes is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, he ran for congress in 2016, and has recently immersed himself in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Ignore all the rumors and fear,” Iron Eyes said. “Someone died at camp. They’re flooding the camp. The tribe dropped its lawsuit. The tribe is closing the camp. They’re not letting anyone into camp.”

The only way to truly know what is going on inside the frontlines is to have boots on the ground – something the Peace Garden State has not attempted once since the controversy began, other than to form militarized lines to force activists back from the pipeline route.

What is factual is that to date, law enforcement has arrested 571 individuals since August 10. Only 6.8 percent of all arrested are from the Peace Garden State, 53 percent or all arrested are white and 41 percent are Native American, Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported.

Also true is that the No DAPL movement initiated by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has gathered more tribes from across the world than any other time in history. The majority of the activists gathered are peaceful, but believe that civil disobedience is necessary to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. Disagreements between activists and tribes have arisen, mostly between the elders and the youth. Some want to take more aggressive steps against police and pipeline workers; most want peaceful resolutions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied the final easement for DAPL to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, and has initiated a full environmental impact assessment along the pipeline’s entire route.

Energy Transfer Partners has invested heavily into North Dakota’s politicians electoral campaigns; many state politicians have invested personally into Bakken oil and Bakken oil projects. Failure of the pipeline would hurt future infrastructure investments, politicians say, and for some their own pocketbooks.

To combat the spread of fake news, or at the very least, control the inner rumormonger, nonprofit consumer advocate FactCheck suggested a few tips:

  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond the headlines
  • Check the author
  • Check the date
  • Check your biases
  • Consult the experts
  • Ask yourself: is this some kind of joke?

While the United States battles an addiction to fake news and defamatory information, Canada has laws that protect both sides, but adds importance to “responsible communication on matters of public interest,” a law that does not only apply to journalists, but also to bloggers, and anyone communicating with the public, Julian Porter, Q.C. a specialist in civil litigation stated.

“The best investigative reporting often takes a trenchant or adversarial position on pressing issues of the day,” the Supreme Court of Canada stated in Grant v. Torstar Corporation. “An otherwise responsible article should not be denied the protection of the defense simply because of its critical tone.”

Basically, in Canada, if a journalist reports responsibly, covering both sides to any controversy, they are protected with “qualified immunity” even if they report incorrect information, according to the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

 

 

“Staying Ahead of the Game”

“Please, please, please be confident” in Dakota Access Pipeline, company leader says

By C.S. Hagen 
ALL NATIONS CAMP – While Arctic winds and near-record snows pummel the prairies, all is not quiet on the pipeline front.

The camp that drew tens of thousands of supporters from across the world, Oceti Sakowin, or the Seven Council Fires Camp, has been shut down. The sacred fire lit continuously since July has been extinguished, but a new fire has taken its place. The former camp is now known as All Nations Camp, according to attorney Chase Iron Eyes. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II has asked everyone to leave, but more than a thousand remain, both at All Nations Camp and at the Sacred Stone Camp.

Across Cannonball River at the Sacred Stone Camp, owner of the land LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard said she plans to stay.

LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard and her husband Miles Allard

“We want the world to know that we at sacred stone are still standing,” Allard said. “We will still be here, we still have our sacred fire, it is still burning, and we want the world to know that we stand in prayer… we stand with Chase Iron Eyes and the new All Nations Camp, and we will be here until the black snake is dead.”

She calls for help to survive the bitter Dakota winter ahead. Firewood is needed, as are plumbers, electricians, welders, and carpenters to make Sacred Stone Camp a more permanent community, she said.

“The camp is strong,” Iron Eyes said. “One fire has been put out, a new fire has been relit. No more glory here, only hard work.”

There is no one chief, Iron Eyes said, everyone is working during daylight hours to help each other survive the winter.

Chase Iron Eyes

“Some people have left camp because of the deadly weather,” Iron Eyes said. “More have arrived… I can’t abandon those in need. Some of you won’t leave, and the world is blessed with your courage. It’s our job to help you stay warm, lodged and fed. Trump takes office in 41 days. DAPL will die if we keep the fight and shift the battlefield…”

 

Oil spills and a second “black snake”

Approximately 200 miles from Standing Rock, another pipeline leak on December 5 sent 4,200 barrels of oil into the Billings County Ash Coulee Creek, which drains into the Little Missouri River, and then into the Missouri River, the North Dakota Department of Health reported. Belle Fourche Pipeline Company manages the pipeline, and it has had a total of 14 leaks in their history in North Dakota.

The sacred fire at Oceti Sakowin before it was extinguished – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Any time we have oil released into water we view that as significant, we’re taking it seriously,” Spill Investigation Program Manager Bill Seuss said. The cold weather has its drawbacks and benefits, he said. Ice slows mobility, but has also trapped much of the oil on top of the creek. “The freezing river slows things down,” Seuss said.

While Standing Rock restructures, activists shut down a meeting held by Enbridge, Inc. at the Doubletree in Bemidji, Minnesota. Bemidji Police Department arrived and threatened nearly 150 people present to leave. Enbridge personnel expected a questions and answer session, but activists suspect they changed their “game plan” after too many activists arrived and started asking questions.

Oil spill at Ash Coulee Creek – photo provided by ND Department of Health

“It was not a forum, it was standing room only, like a buffet,” Winona Laduke, a longtime environmentalist, economist, and two-time vice presidential candidate for Ralph Nader’s Green Party, said. She is also the executive director for Honor the Earth, a non-profit advocate for indigenous environmental support.

“They whited out the Sandpiper and put in Line 3,” Laduke said. “They’re in the process of doing their environmental impact statement, and the public utilities is doing the statement and they don’t have the capacity for it.”

Laduke asked questions directly to Enbridge personnel. She was ignored, and they walked out, she said. “They thought there would be a few county commissioners and a few white guys, and they wouldn’t answer any questions. A lot of people wanted to know about North Dakota.

“If you’re going to bring tanks here into northern Minnesota,” Laduke said during the meeting. She was met with silence. “You’re going to bring tanks? That’s what we want to know.”

A police officer told her it was time to go. Friends grabbed her arms in support, making it clear they were not going anywhere, Laduke said. Activists yelled at police they should go apply to Morton County.

“As soon as Winona Laduke started asking questions a police officer came in and said she needed to leave for no reason at all,” activist Thomas Barrett. “Because of that, people started getting upset because they’re targeting Winona Laduke. She’s one of the women who has ignited the fire that is in us now, the fire to care for Mother Earth. We demanded to know something and the majority of the Enbridge walked out, because we started asking questions they don’t want to answer,” Barrett said.

Barrett planned to ask questions about abandoned pipelines, still leaking.

The Enbridge pipeline, formerly known as the Sandpiper was routed to cut through Chippewa and Ojibwe treaty territory.

“Now Enbridge is turning its focus on the proposed Line 3 project, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Superior Wisconsin, some of the best lakes and wild rice beds of Northern Minnesota, and the heart of Ojibwe treaty territory,” Laduke said.

“As Enbridge kicks off a renewed public relations campaign for Line 3, they owe us all an explanation of how this project is any different from Dakota Access. And they need to account for the hundreds of injuries…”

Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley said before Fargo’s City Commissioners and Mayor Tim Mahoney last week that no injuries at Standing Rock had been validated.

“So, what’s up Enbridge?” Laduke said. “Are you going to bring those tanks to Ojibwe territory now? And, when are you going to repair the damage you have caused us?”

“We have to stay ahead of the game,” Barrett said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We have to get our legal ready. We have to support our frontrunners. This is where we mobilize. This is where we continue the fight. Standing Rock is not over, this is now Standing Rock right here.”

“Enbridge’s Line 3 Opening Party in Bemidji did not go well,” Laduke said. “We want to know why Enbridge let all those people get hurt out there in North Dakota when we asked them to stop the violence… They were one-third owners of the Dakota Excess Pipeline and they could have said something. This is not Morton County… that ain’t gonna fly here.”

“This isn’t North Dakota, this is Minnesota where the government might care a little bit about our concerns,” Barrett said to the crowd. News of an Enbridge meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater was announced to the activists present.

DAPL drill pad – photo provided by Digital Smoke Signals

Energy Transfer Partners meeting secretly taped

A secret recording of a corporate Energy Transfer Partners meeting led by President and COO Matthew Ramsey was given anonymously to Shaun King, the senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, who made the audio public, and he states the recording is authentic. A person at the end of the speech thanks the main speaker, naming him Matt.

“We have been in quite a fight here on DAPL…” Ramsey said in the recording. “Make no mistake about it, the pipeline is going through and it’s going through exactly where…” The audio is interrupted.

“We have not stopped for one second on construction of this pipeline, unless we were ordered to stop by court, which we were then ordered to stop twice but ultimately both of those courts that did order us to stop went and looked at the facts, which are very hard to come by in this process.” 

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been built on both sides of Lake Oahe up to the point where Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline, lacks approximately 1,100 feet from the federal government, and about 4,000 feet planned to go under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

“The politics of this thing has been unbelievable,” Ramsey said. “Never in my lifetime…” The audio is interrupted. “I think I would be having an argument with regulators where we’ve done nothing except play by the rules. We always, always play by the rules. It was evidenced that when we came under attack here, there was never anything, not one thing that came out…” audio is interrupted again. “It was a confirmation that we did it by the book.

“But I gotta tell you one thing in this room, election night changed everything,” Ramsey said. “We’re now going through a transition where we will have a new President of the United States. And he gets it. We fully expect as soon as he is inaugurated his team is going to move to get the final approvals done and DAPL will cross the lake.”

A 65-day drilling schedule remains to complete the 1,172-mile pipeline, depending on the weather.

“People in North Dakota… people are tired of this. The tide has turned, and people are understanding what a great project this will be for the state of North Dakota, and that came right out of the governor’s mouthpiece that he’s very much in favor of this thing, so, I think we’re off and running on DAPL.”

The pipeline plans to move up to 570,000 of sweet crude Bakken oil through a public utility. Much of the oil will be exported, according to analysts, and will not benefit American consumers. North Dakota politicians including Senator Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D., helped lead efforts to legalize increased exports of liquefied gas and crude oil in 2015.

“I know everyone in this room has had to deal with protesters, and everyone in this room has had to read on social media the misinformation that’s out there,” Ramsey said. “It’s not fair. We feel like keeping our head down and doing what we do best, which is put this pipeline in the ground is the best thing we can do. We’ve never stopped doing that.”

Ramsey attacked live video feeds on social media websites such as Facebook as rumor mills. Earlier this week Governor Jack Dalrymple blamed Energy Transfer Partners for not standing up for themselves and defending their positions.

“Why don’t we just immediately answer back every time something is stated wrong about the company and what we’re doing?” Ramsey said. “You have to understand, and I didn’t understand this until I got kinda deep into it, this is not really about water and this is not about… it’s about environmental activism, and it’s nothing more than that. These are people who are pushing the all-fossil fuels in the ground at every angle. Make no mistake, this is an event that they’re using to raise lots and lots of money. If they can create a cause and if they can create a lot of publicity, which they’ve clearly done here, it’s an avenue for that to raise money, not only to fight us on this project, but to fight all the projects.

“So we’ll continue to fight for this thing, but please, please, please be confident in this company. We’re gonna get this through in short order.”

Route 6 – photo provided by Digital Smoke Signals

 

No DAPL Movement Switches Gears, Locals Accost Activists in Bismarck

Standing Rock Chairman says ‘time to go home,’ Bismarck Police investigate altercation

By C.S. Hagen 
CANNONBALL – Blizzards and biting Arctic winds are all in a winter day’s work for most North Dakotans, but to the unprepared the cold can become a struggle between life and death. Due in part to winter conditions this week the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked everyone at Oceti Sakowin to go home.

The main road into the camps against the Dakota Access Pipeline has been blocked for weeks, forcing travellers to the area down a longer, winding road. The Backwater Bridge, not more than a spear’s throw from the camps, has become a militarized zone complete with cement impediments, razor wire, and armed police.

“We have no need for water protectors and anyone to put themselves in unsafe environments,” Chairman Dave Archambault II said. “It’s time now, it’s time to go home. It doesn’t do us any good to live in an unsafe environment. It’s okay to go home. If it’s needed in the future, you’re welcome to come back.”

Horse riders in the snow outside Oceti Sakowin - photo by C.S. Hagen

Oceti Sakowin – photo by C.S. Hagen

Additionally, Archambault believes Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, will not endanger the company’s situation by breaking the law and drilling without an easement across the Missouri River.

“We have a winter storm, we have cold weather coming. If they violate that easement it’s going to threaten all the investors’ monies.”

Archambault is grateful for the help it has received against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but said the US Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny easement, citing that a full environmental impact assessment was needed, cannot be overturned overnight, even if it is President-elect Donald Trump’s top priority, Archambault said. His current job is to convince state and national leadership that the Army Corps’ decision was the right decision, he said.

“If they do drill, which I don’t think they will, they don’t have an easement. What they will do is try to drill right up to that easement just to get a reaction out of water protectors, because a decision was made by the Corps of Engineers, and it was the right decision. They’re trying to convince everyone that this is a wrong decision, and the only way they can do that is if we do something, if we try to commit a crime, like hurt somebody, hurt law enforcement, take over a pad. When we do something like that, it’s an illegal act.”

The Indigenous Environmental Network said they support the chairman’s wishes, but recognize the fight is far from over.

“We are not abandoning our relatives here in Standing Roc,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a press release. “In fact, it is escalating and the stakes are even higher. We are stronger than ever, filled with even more hope and more prayer, and no matter who is in the White House, we will continue to follow our original instructions as Indigenous Peoples to defend land and to protect water.”

Horse riders in the snow outside Oceti Sakowin - photo by C.S. Hagen

Horse riders in the snow outside Oceti Sakowin – photo by C.S. Hagen

Not everyone agrees with the chairman.

Attorney Chase Iron Eyes, who ran for congress this year, and has recently become more active in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, said people who are capable of withstanding the elements should stay.

“Some people are standing down, packing up, leaving, calling the easement denial a victory while DAPL moved to force the court to allow it to drill,” Iron Eyes said. DAPL owners, which include Energy Transfer Partners, have filed a suit in federal court to force the Army Corps to approve the easement. The hearing is scheduled for Friday.

“The roadblock is still up, militarized presence by DAPL ongoing,” Iron Eyes said. “It’s never been easy. I get it. Be safe, those who are infirm go home, but the reality is thousands are staying and they’re here sacrificing for us because DAPL won’t stand down. They need our courage right now, not our doubt. We help when it gets tough, we don’t run.”

Iron Eyes didn’t fault Archambault for petitioning everyone to go home. “You must remember the chairman is concerned about protectors’ safety. He is the chairman and he’s looking out for all elderly, disabled, children, and others in the camp.”

Tipi at Oceti Sakowin, surrounded by hay bales, tipis are far warmer than tents - photo by C.S. Hagen

Tipi at Oceti Sakowin, surrounded by hay bales, tipis are far warmer than tents – photo by C.S. Hagen

A Bismarck altercation

A native person going by the name of Shiyé Bidzííl on Facebook was ambushed on Wednesday by two people thought by some to be police officers while at the Ramada Inn. A man in a skull mask approached the vehicle Bidzííl was in, warning them to go home.

“Take your protesting asses back home,” the man said in the video. “All you mother f*cking protesters go home. Us North Dakota people are going to f*ck you up, every f*cking one of you.

“We know who you are too. We follow you too. We f*ck your wives at home, we hope you like it. Go ahead. Threaten us. Keep it up. You threaten our people?”

“This is for real sh*t guys, this is not f*cking joking around sh*t. They blocked us in,” Bidzííl said in the video.

Man in skull mask

Man in skull mask

A man he identified as Chris trapped them and refused to let them go, Bidzííl said. Not until bystanders interfered did the two masked men leave. In his video reports Bidzííl said he plans on going to Bismarck to press charges against the people involved.

“What I’m going to do is going to tell the story about what I was doing up there by myself,” Bidzííl said. “I wanted to document what was going on with all of us indigenous people.”

He had difficulty getting a room during the latest blizzard because of his appearance, Bidzííl said.

Accomplice

Accomplice

“When we were up there for three days stuck in the blizzard, we couldn’t get a room,” Bidzííl said. Hotel management said they had no rooms, but he had heard from others that they did have vacancies. “I asked this lady is there a room, and she said no. I asked her was it because we had fatigues on like this? She kinda looked at us all scared, and I realized that how I looked at those guys walking toward our vehicle, in her eyes that is how she thought of us.

“She didn’t have to think like that, but that’s how much fear is running around Bismarck right now, and racism, that stuff is all real.”

The Bismarck Police Department is investigating the case as an altercation, according to a Bismarck Police Department press release. A bystander also filming the incident was threatened along with two other victims. One of the victims involved was followed around town.

“The suspects in this case have been identified and are actively being investigated,” the press release stated. “There have been several rumors circulating that the suspects were police officers. This has been determined to be false.”

Police are also trying to re-contact the victims, and are asking for help in putting the victims in touch with police.

Shortly after the incident, the international network of activists and hacktivists Anonymous released a warning to Morton County Sheriff’s Department saying “Operation Morton” is now engaged.

“Your acts of violence, threats, and torture upon the protestors and water protectors of the North Dakota pipeline have gone too far,” Anonymous stated. “The two officers who threatened the protesters in the parking lot now have 48 hours to turn themselves in, or we will expose all their information publicly.”

License plates of vehicles involved were identified, Anonymous said. They also demanded that officers involved in hurting activists with tear gas, pepper spray, concussion grenades, and water cannons be held responsible.

Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley said to the Fargo City Commissioners on Monday that reports of activists injured by law enforcement have not been substantiated. Excessive use of force by law enforcement is only commentary by social media, Wrigley said.

 

Road conditions

North Dakota Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Jamie Olson said Highway 6, the only main road leading into Standing Rock, is mostly cleared, but high winds are forcing snow back onto the roadways in some areas.

“There’s certainly an improvement over the last couple of days,” Olson said. “They’re all drivable, but there’s still going to be some areas where there will be snow and ice. It’s not a perfect road.” She advised to slow down, don’t use cruise control, and be alert. Road conditions can be found on a travel information map at www.dot.nd.gov.

 

Fargo Wants Peace, State Wants More Help, Energy Transfer Partners Will Carry On

As Veterans for Standing Rock bow in an apology to Native Americans, Energy Transfer Partners said their plans will not be changed

By C.S. Hagen 
FARGO – Fargo city leaders asked the state for a peaceful resolution Monday, while veterans from across the nation apologized for colonialist behavior, bowing before Native Americans in Standing Rock.

Energy Transfer Partners reported it didn’t care what the US Army Corps of Engineers said. The Dakota Access Pipeline will carry on.

More than 2,000 veterans travelled to Standing Rock over the weekend, according to Veterans for Standing Rock’s Facebook page. Their arrival assisted Standing Rock and the tribe’s supporters in its fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to activists, and an apology made by the veterans to Native Americans helped heal old wounds.

Veterans asking for forgiveness in a ceremony led Wesley Clark Jr. and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Faith Spotted Eagle, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Phyllis Young, and Ivan Looking Horse, among others. Wesley Clark Jr. is in front - photo provided by Redhawk

In a ceremony led by Wesley Clark Jr. asking forgiveness for atrocities committed on behalf of the US military to Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Faith Spotted Eagle, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Phyllis Young, and Ivan Looking Horse, among others. Wesley Clark Jr. is in front – photo provided by Redhawk

“We came, we fought you, we took your land,” Wesley Clark Jr., son of retired General Wesley Clark Sr., said. Clark Jr. is one of the organizers of the Veterans for Standing Rock. “We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain… and then we took your children, we tried to take your language. We didn’t respect you. We polluted your earth. We hurt you in so many ways, and we’ve come to say we are sorry. We are at your service.”

The group then took a knee, bowing before Native Americans. Some kneeling choked back sobs. The hall was silent when Chief Leonard Crow Dog placed a hand on top of Clark’s head, saying all was forgiven.

“World peace,” Crow Dog said. “We will take a step, we are Lakota sovereign nation. We were a nation and we’re still a nation. We have our language to speak. We have preserved the caretaker position. We do not own the land. The land owns us.”

According to some estimates more than 12,000 people are currently at Oceti Sakowin, or in nearby shelters as the second snow storm in as many weeks hit the area.

Dr. Cornel West at Standing Rock. West is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America - photo by C.S. Hagen

Dr. Cornel West at Standing Rock. West is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America – photo by C.S. Hagen

On Monday, one person was arrested and charged with criminal trespass after he allegedly crossed Backwater Bridge. The arrest total is now 566, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is the kind of stuff that re-escalates things, and then he brings the attitude right along with it,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said. Laney has been working as operations chief for Morton County since August.

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics said the decision made by the US Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday to reject the easement proposal for crossing the Missouri River at Lake Oahe was a “purely political action.

“For more than three years now, Dakota Access Pipeline has done nothing but play by the rules,” a press release made available by Energy Transfer Partners reported. “The White House’s directive to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.

“As stated all along, [we] are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”

Politicians around the Peace Garden State echoed Energy Transfer Partners condemnation. Few congratulated Standing Rock on its win.

Congressman Kevin Cramer R-ND., called President Obama lawless.

Morton County Chairman Cody Schulz hopes the federal government sends in troops to clear out the camps after President-elect Donald J. Trump takes office.

Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, a frequent naysayer against Standing Rock and its supporters has also spoken on radio shows such as the Flag and on Rob Port’s SayAnything blog damning the protests and reporting activists have nobody to blame but themselves for injuries or hardship.

Wrigley dropped hints to the Fargo City Commissioners on Monday that Morton County still needed Fargo’s police support against No DAPL activities.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, it is not a protest,” Wrigley said. Assaults on police, illegal activities, illegal camping on lands owned by the Army Corps do not constitute a protest, he said. “The protest has now gone up to about 7,000 people, the state of the situation remains very tense, and I don’t see it being resolved anytime soon.

“Nobody wants there to be a humanitarian disaster out there. They’re in tents, in yurts… It’s cold, it’s snowing.”

Allegations against excessive use of force by law enforcement, are only on social media have not been substantiated, Wrigley said. He made no reference to the dozens of lawsuits filed by the Lawyer’s Guild Mass Defense Committee and other law firms. All reports of activists injured have not been substantiated, Wrigley said. He praised law enforcement for holding their ground.

“Law and order has to be maintained,” Wrigley said. “There have been more than 500 arrests, the reason there are not four times that amount of arrests is that we are so outnumbered. We have a 3.8 billion dollar infrastructure project, and it is critical, not only to our economy, but to our way of life.”

Fargo Police Chief David Todd said all city police officers are now home in Fargo.

“Before we send out any more assistance we’re going to see how the decision [Army Corps easement denial] plays out,” Todd said.

At no time during confrontations did Fargo police, the state’s largest police force, use pepper spray, rubber bullets, or water cannons on activists, Todd said.

Fargo Police Chief David Todd speaking before mayor and city commissioners about Fargo Police involvement in No DAPL controversy in Morton County - photo by C.S. Hagen

Fargo Police Chief David Todd and Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley speaking before mayor and city commissioners about Fargo’s involvement in No DAPL controversy in Morton County – photo by C.S. Hagen

Morton County asked every department and police chief in the Peace Garden State for help, Todd said, and nearly every department responded.

Every Fargo police officer who went to Morton County volunteered to go, Todd said. “I did not force anyone to go. I have been to Morton County twice… and at times I’ve stood with them on the line as the protests occurred. Many of the protesters are peaceful, and we have supported their First Amendment rights.”

Todd also asked Wrigley for prompt reimbursement of Fargo’s costs during the controversy.

Few voices spoke in defense of the Native Americans: City Commissioner John Strand was one.

“We are very proud of our law enforcement here in town,” Strand said. He is in his third year on the Native American Commission, and said to his knowledge, he knows of no one who advocates violence against police. “The folks I know do not endorse or support unlawful behavior. They stand in prayer and they stand peacefully. To my knowledge it is as spiritual as it is anything else.”

He didn’t divulge into the politics behind the project, but said the public deserves transparency, Fargo police deserved honor and respect, as well as Native Americans. He asked members of the Native American Commission to stand, and he thanked them. A round of applause filled the city commissioners’ room.

“I join in thanking the law enforcement and thanking the Native American leadership for being Americans, and participating, and being engaged, and standing for what you believe in, and for advocating for peace for prayer, and advocating for a higher consciousness for all of us as we move through this.

“I am an eternal optimist – that we will come out of this better for it. There will be an opportunity after this is all done to step up our relationship with our native communities and with each other.”

Mayor Tim Mahoney agreed, saying that Fargo would support peaceful means in the future.

“We on the commission support the fact that we have a strong Native American Commission, and we listen to them, we listen to their thoughts, and we listen to any of their suggestions in our community,” Mahoney told Wrigley. “We know that you and the governor have a tough task before you, we’re all concerned that somebody might get hurt.”

More than 7,000 people against North Dakota’s forces is “just asking for a disaster,” Mahoney said.

“If there’s some way we can help with a resolution, we would be happy to do that. We would like a peaceful resolution, and we will support that 100 percent.”

 

A VICTORY! At Standing Rock

Standing Rock takes a win, prepares for DAPL response

By C.S. Hagen 
OCETI SAKOWIN – Rexx Brady rose Sunday morning knowing it was going to be a good day for the fighters against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“It was a spiritual feeling,” Brady, a Cheyenne from Washington State, said. “Calm. I knew something good was going to happen today.”

His first clue was sunshine. After a week of storms and snow, the clouds parted, warming the prairies. Tension lifted, he said. A caravan of cars filled with Veterans for Standing Rock supporters stretched a mile south on Highway 1806. Police barricades disappeared en route to the camps, and Morton County Sheriff’s Department backed away from the militarized zone north of Backwater Bridge.

Activists offering thanks of sage, fir nettles, and tobacco to the sacred fire - photo by C.S. Hagen

Activists offering thanks of sage, fir nettles, and tobacco to the sacred fire – photo by C.S. Hagen

“This is what hope looks like, regardless of the color of your skin,” Brady said. “All these prayers are being answered. This is a big turning point for America.”

News on Sunday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, the easement needed to drill across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, took many by surprise. The Army Corps further stated a full environmental impact statement must be made and a new route must be explored.

DAPL is leaving - photo by C.S. Hagen

DAPL is leaving – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said. The pipeline stretches 1,172 miles to Illinois and is projected to transport as much as 570,000 of crude oil per day, according to the Army Corps. Most, if not all of the oil transported eventually to Texas is for export and not for national consumption, activists and analysts say.

Activists hug each other during celebration of Standing Rock victory - photo by C.S. Hagen

Activists hug each other during celebration of Standing Rock victory – photo by C.S. Hagen

“It’s good news, this is a victory,” attorney Chase Iron Eyes said. He ran for congress in North Dakota this year, and has become active in the DAPL fight since his loss in November. “We were not ready for this, everything here has been so tense, so this comes as a sigh of relief.”

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said.

Archambault further said more peaceful prayer is needed, but hinted that it may be time to return home. Activists on the loud speakers also began talking about how the area of Oceti Sakowin, which is in a floodplain, needed to be cleaned of all debris, tents, tipis, and equipment soon.

“With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom sacrificed as well,” Archambault said. “We look forward to celebrating in wopila, in thanks, in the coming days.”

As hundreds of veterans with Veterans for Standing Rock slowly caravanned into the camps, Kenny Frost, who works with federal agencies on indigenous training said the day was historically important.

“It would never have happened if the veterans didn’t come here,” Frost said. “First time in history, with 350 tribes together, this is the first time on all our lives for something like this to happen. But more than 500 people have faced a lot of trauma, and right now we just need to move forward and on to a federal level.”

Veterans for Standing Rock before sacred fire - photo by C.S. Hagen

Veterans for Standing Rock before sacred fire – photo by C.S. Hagen

“We’ll take this as a win,” Tom Goldtooth said. Goldooth is the director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “But we are going to wait and see what DAPL does.”

The decision by the Army Corps, while welcome to activists was President Obama’s attempt to secure his legacy before he steps down from office, Goldtooth said. The real fight has only just begun.

Few people are preparing to leave the camps off Highway 1806. After a brief celebration of fireworks, dancing, and singing around the sacred fire, activists resumed their work on sturdier housing. The Cannonball River is quickly freezing, and more snow and lower temperatures are predicted for the week.

John Bolenbaugh, a former oil company employee turned whistleblower after witnessing firsthand oil companies’ tactics behind constructing pipelines and cleaning oil spills, spoke to thousands gathered in an ever-widening circle.

“I’ve wanted to piss them off so much that they killed me, I wanted to be a martyr to start a movement that would bring something like Standing Rock to this world,” Bolenbaugh said. “For some reason God wanted me to stick around. I’ve had many attempts on my life, I’ve had death threats. I’ve been hit over the head. Bullets have been taken out of my wheels from my vehicles, tires have been slashed, brakes cut.

“For some reason, I’m still here. Maybe God wanted me to see this amazing time in history. This is a revolution.”

Bolenbaugh knows the fight isn’t over.

“I don’t believe them when they say they’re going to stop drilling,” Bolenbaugh said. “The National Guard should go and arrest them now.”

Night traffic inside Oceti Sakowin - photo by C.S. Hagen

Night traffic inside Oceti Sakowin – photo by C.S. Hagen

As the area’s second winter storm in as many weeks hit the camps on Monday, an announcement made by the Lakota People’s Law Project reported DAPL is currently digging under the river. “They are not going to listen to the Army Corps denying the easement. They don’t care about that. They’re still going to go ahead. All the people think this fight is over, but it is not over.

“To get the acknowledgement is noteworthy, however; the fight lingers on.”

Iron eyes and others reiterated the fight is only beginning, and now, more than ever, the camps must not be emptied.

“They are hard to beat,” Iron Eyes said. “This is not the end. The Army Corps denial of the easement means nothing until all law enforcement is gone, until DAPL is gone. Let us strengthen our presence.”

Iron Eyes is further calling for renewed talks with the federal government over treaty rights. “The US has been less than honorable when it comes to the treaties.”

Governor Jack Dalrymple stated last week that all work along the Dakota Access Pipeline has stopped, pending US Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of an easement. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said Army Corps decision has little to do with his office.

“I have stated from the beginning that the easement is a federal decision and local law enforcement does not have an opinion on it,” Kirchmeier said. “Our role is to enforce the law and that is what we will continue to do.”

Children sledding down Media Hill - photo by C.S. Hagen

Children sledding down Media Hill – photo by C.S. Hagen

North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson said if DAPL begins drilling illegally, he ensures their work will be shut down.

“We are not in DAPL’s corner,” Iverson said. “We absolutely would not allow something unlawful to continue. If that can provide a peace of mind to protesters out there, I am on record right now saying that will not be happening, so without the proper permits and easements, we would not allow that to happen.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer R-ND., called the Obama administration lawless. “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling response to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. I feel badly for the Corps of Engineers because of the diligent work it did on this project, only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus.”

Carvan to Standing Rock, from early morning until late night, the thousands of vehicles streetched for more than a mile - photo by C.S. Hagen

Carvan to Standing Rock, from early morning until late night, the thousands of vehicles streetched for more than a mile – photo by C.S. Hagen

Morton County Chairman Cody Schulz reiterated that the federal government should send financial resources and the necessary troops to deal with the situation outside of Standing Rock, and is placing his hopes in the President-elect Donald J. Trump.

“It appears the federal government let the citizens of Morton County, law enforcement, and protesters suffer for months while making a political decision that is likely to be overturned when the new administration takes office next month,” Schulz said.

“We still don’t have finality.”

Tribal leaders hope the new administration will respect the Army Corps stance, Archambault said. “When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted consideration of the tribes.”

Activists rejoicing at Army Corps news denying DAPL easement - photo by C.S. Hagen.JPG

Activists rejoicing at Army Corps news denying DAPL easement – photo by C.S. Hagen

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