|Photos from Standing Rock Rising|
This is the land and water that the First Nations people seek to protect.
The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is a Hunkpapa Lakota and Yankton Dakota Indian reservation in North Dakota and South Dakota, and is the sixth-largest Indian reservation in the United States.
The backstory here is that the Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted away from the wealthy white folks and on to the sacred land of poor Indians who, it was assumed were without the political muscle to push back.
Much of the land the pipeline will cross is private, which is simply a fancy way to say it was stolen at gun point from the native people more than 140 years ago, and sold off to wealthy individuals and corporations often located hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. You can blame George Armstrong Custer who, contrary to the direct orders to President Grant, started the Gold Rush that caused the massacres and massive 1874 treaty violations initiated and abetted by the government.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a deeply corrupt enterprise that has flourished outside of normal environmental oversight. The Army Corps of Engineers green-lit the construction with very little oversight. In March and April of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation requested a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Statement as required by law. In July, however, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the water crossing permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline under a “fast track” option. Were there cash payoffs? Future job offers? Who knows; such things have occurred in the past, however.
What is not open to debate is that while the legal issues are complex, a massive militarization of the conflict by thug-like police drawn from neighboring states has created an explosive and volatile mix in which native protesters are being shot, gassed, and beaten.
Barack Obama is Commander in Chief and can shut down the Army Corps of Engineers permit, and federalize this conflict by forcing the area to be cleared of local and state police which are operating far beyond their training.
A failure to do so will result in lives lost.