Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Activists confront construction activities, which they say deliberately targeted sacred sites to 'provoke violence.' (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Activists confront construction activities, which they say deliberately targeted sacred sites to 'provoke violence.' (Photo: AFP/Getty)

'Is That Not Genocide?' Pipeline Co. Bulldozing Burial Sites Prompts Emergency Motion

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux say Dakota Access is trying to 'provoke peaceful resisters 'to violence'

Lauren McCauley

In a last ditch attempt to protect burial and prayer sites, North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux late Sunday filed for a temporary restraining order to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say has already caused "irreparable harm" to the sacred plots.

"On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts," said tribal chairman David Archambault II in a press statement.

"They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites," Archambault added. "The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We're asking the court to halt this path of destruction."

The emergency motion came after security forces hired by the pipeline company attacked Indigenous demonstrators with dogs and pepper spray on Saturday.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, activist Linda Black Elk, who is married to a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member, said that it's clear that the pipeline company is trying to "provoke" the peaceful resisters "to violence."

Black Elk wrote:

Just to recap: On Friday, the Standing Rock Nation filed papers challenging Dakota Access permits from the Army Corps of Engineers'... because in a recent survey of the area, the tribe found many incredibly sacred sites, including burial sites, directly in the path of the proposed pipeline. The tribe had never been allowed to survey these areas before, so they hadn't been able to document these sites.

Today, barely 24 hours after those papers were filed, Dakota Access used bulldozers to destroy those sites. It was absolute destruction. They literally bulldozed the ancestors right out of the ground, along with destroying tipi rings and cairns. They did all of this while assaulting peaceful resistors using vicious dogs, tear gas, and pepper spray.

"There's only one conclusion," Black Elk added, "they are attempting to provoke us to violence."

The ongoing tribal protest against the Dakota Access pipeline has drawn thousands of supporters, including representatives from more than 200 tribes, and garnered increasing media attention. And a federal judge is currently weighing whether construction should be stopped altogether, in response to a complaint filed by the tribe, which argues that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the project without their consent. That decision is expected by Sept. 9.

"The Tribe has been seeking to vindicate its rights peacefully through the courts. But Dakota Access Pipeline used evidence submitted to the Court as their roadmap for what to bulldoze. That's just wrong," said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux.

"Destroying the Tribe's sacred places over a holiday weekend, while the judge is considering whether to block the pipeline, shows a flagrant disregard for the legal process," Hasselman added.

LaDonna Bravebull Allard, historic preservation office for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Section 106, noted in a piece published at YES! Magazine that "Of the 380 archeological sites that face desecration along the entire pipeline route, from North Dakota to Illinois, 26 of them are right here at the confluence of these two rivers," the Cannonball and the Missouri. "It is a historic trading ground," Bravebull Allard wrote, "a place held sacred not only by the Sioux Nations, but also the Arikara, the Mandan, and the Northern Cheyenne."  

What's more, she highlighted how this latest affront is part of a legacy of the U.S. government erasing Indigenous culture through the destruction of their sacred sites.

"The U.S. government is wiping out our most important cultural and spiritual areas. And as it erases our footprint from the world, it erases us as a people," she continued. "These sites must be protected, or our world will end, it is that simple. Our young people have a right to know who they are. They have a right to language, to culture, to tradition. The way they learn these things is through connection to our lands and our history."

Finally, she posed the question:  "If we allow an oil company to dig through and destroy our histories, our ancestors, our hearts and souls as a people, is that not genocide?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo