Today, my heart was broken as I watched several Facebook live videos of ARMED police officers attack UNARMED protestors simply trying to protect their land.
In April of 2016, a small group of people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe created a small camp along the Cannonball River to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline would also be crossing the Missouri River, posing a major threat to the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of other people downstream. The camp slowly grew over the next few months until September 3rd, 2016 when a private security force unleashed guard dogs on the protectors. The events of that day went viral on social media and the camp grew as people from all over the world traveled to Standing Rock. Hundreds of tribes have gathered at the camp in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Thousands of people from around the world have gathered to protect clean water.
Since their creation, everyone at the camps has been completely unarmed and peaceful. Nearly 2 months after the first attack, the protestors were attacked again. Hundreds of police officers armed with riot gear arrived to force the protectors out of the main camp. On the same day, the Bundy protesters that forcefully took over a federally recognized wildlife sanctuary last winter, were found not guilty. This group of white men were armed during their protest, they used force and threats, and they had major news coverage. In contrast, the protestors at Standing Rock have been completely unarmed, but they have been met with guard dogs, pepper spray, riot guns, tasers, sound cannons, military vehicles, snipers, and armed police officers. Also on the same day, Native youth brought the pipeline protest to Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, in the hope that their actions would force Hillary to finally take a stance on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The statement she finally made was disappointing to many.
I fear the day when economic development brings bulldozers to my home. I fear the day when corporate greed destroys the mountains I’ve been taught to love and protect. When thousands of voices gathered in peace and prayer is not enough, one thing is clear. The mindset that created the phrase, “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” is still alive. The evil that allowed the genocide, relocation, and assimilation of Native Americans still exists. Over 500 years, nothing has changed. Greed still terrorizes Native land.