As DAPL Construction Approaches Missouri River, Water Protectors Stay Strong
Amid increasing threats and continued pipeline construction, Indigenous water protectors vow to continue stand against Dakota Access
As Dakota Access Pipeline construction quickly approaches the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Sioux and allies are vowing to continue their resistance against the pipeline—standing strong despite the violent arrests and inhumane treatment by police, and continued threats from government and industry forces.
"It's really hard for us to remain in prayer and ceremony when they're using violence against us. But we will. We will be like stones."
Indigenous Environmental Network"There isn't much land left between the water and the equipment," said Cheryl Angel, a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe who helped create Sacred Stone protest camp, to the Guardian.
The newspaper reports:
"They're right there. They have breached our sacred ground. There is no time for waiting any more," the 56-year-old said, tears streaming as she gestured toward the water and encroaching pipeline. "It is almost complete. All they need to do is go under that river."
It is unclear when the final phase of construction could finish, but native activists on Sunday said it appeared the project was within a few miles of the water and that the construction crew seemed to be working at a fast pace. The North Dakota portion of the 1,172-mile pipeline was originally scheduled for completion by November.
And even as supporters rally in solidarity worldwide and human rights observers descend on the area to observe the police, Indigenous water protectors still find themselves constantly on guard against hostile forces.
Indeed, this weekend saw water protectors fearing a mysterious brush fire near the camp as well as new footage of an armed security contractor with Dakota Access who appeared to infiltrate the water protectors during last week's clashes with law enforcement.
All signs point to the pipeline company being linked to both threats, said Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Dallas Goldtooth.
Democracy Now! featured the footage, filmed during Thursday's mass arrests and violent dismantling of a protest camp, which shows a Dakota Access security contractor holding an AR-15 assault rifle and wearing a red bandana over his face, pointing his gun at water protectors who were reportedly attempting to de-escalate the situation. The security officer, who had a DAPL security ID card and whose truck was insured by DAPL, was apparently attempting to infiltrate the camp.
The man was eventually arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers and turned over to the FBI.
"It's pretty terrifying to know that Dakota Access has infiltrators in our camp," Goldtooth told Democracy Now! "They're paying individuals like this, armed individuals, to create situations of escalation, potentially very dangerous situations. We don't know what his intentions could have been. He could have fired at police, creating a situation where police believe it's coming from our water protectors when it's not."
The news broadcast also reported on a brush fire that occurred Saturday night, to which local emergency services allegedly refused to respond—despite repeated 911 calls from water protectors.
"The thing that's most disturbing to me is this," Goldtooth explained:
The excuse they used to move upon that camp was so that they could clear the temporary barricade that we set up, so that emergency services to reach [...] our main camp. Their reason for using rubber bullets and pepper spray and concussion grenades on our water protectors was so that they could have access to deliver emergency services, ambulances and fire equipment, if needed, to the main camp. So why is it that a number of days later, when a fire actually does happen, the Morton County Sheriff's department ignores the calls and pleas for help and does not send any ambulances or fire trucks to the place that they stated they needed to get to?
Watch the full report here:
Additional video footage filmed during the clashes last Thursday showed another man "in a white sweatshirt, jeans, and a black ponytail pushing demonstrators toward an advancing line of police," reports the Los Angeles Times.
Despite the sense of constant threats and still reeling from Thursday's mass arrests, water protectors staged a peaceful march and prayer circle Saturday on a bridge that government officials had closed, demonstrating their commitment both to their cause and to peaceful means of protest.
"The fight is far from over," Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network told the LA Times. "It's really hard for us to remain in prayer and ceremony when they're using violence against us. But we will. We will be like stones."