Over the last few weeks human dignity group leaders across the state have been exchanging information, holding events, and contacting ROP, looking for ways to stand in solidarity with rural and indigenous people who are under attack in North Dakota. We are heartbroken and incensed that the courageous water protectors in North Dakota are being shot at and beaten by police. At that same time, many are asking, how can this be happening when while the so-called Patriots who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty? There is so much to unpack about power, privilege, and how our position in society defines our relationship to the “justice” system in the US. We share in this ROPnet context about what is happening at Standing Rock and how we can show up in solidarity.
At the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota Thursday, things escalated at one of the many fronts where water protectors have been standing in the way of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), including reports that assault rifles have been aimed at unarmed people and rubber bullets have been fired at water protectors and their horses. The water protectors are looking to defeat a $3.8 billion, 1,100-mile fracked-oil pipeline that would desecrate Lakota Treaty Territory land and go under the Missouri River, the longest river on the continent.
Lakota water protectors, along with indigenous and non-native allies from across the continent, have been holding space at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers for months now. National news coverage of the prayerful demonstrations erupted in early September when the pipeline company used private security, pepper spray, and dogs to attack water protectors who were defending sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock tribe. This week, in the same area, hundreds of people have been maced, beaten, shot at, tear gassed, and arrested for standing with Standing Rock.
Besides the people who have gathered and continued to gather at Standing Rock, there are thousands upon thousands of people who have been sitting with rapt attention on news sites and livestream channels. Thursday we watched as hundreds of militarized police and private security, masked and in all black or military camo, formed lines across from water protectors in ceremony, dragged people from their tents and sweat lodges, attacked people with batons and rubber bullets, and chased people from their own ancestral lands.
Why is it that we can’t look away? People of color, and especially Black, latinx, and indigenous people, are killed by law enforcement at a higher rate than white folks in this country. In 2016, indigenous people are dying from police violence at a higher rate per capita than any other group. The violence that water protectors are experiencing is happening in that context, and also in the context of centuries of violence, theft, and discrimination against indigenous people on this continent.
Every year, there are hundreds of fossil fuel pipeline leaks, train derailments, and other industrial accidents in this country with devastating impacts on watersheds and the people downstream. We all remember earlier this summer when a Union Pacific oil train carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota derailed and went up in flames right next to a school and a mobile home park in Mosier, right here in rural Oregon. There have been multiple pipeline leaks just in the last week, including a crude oil spill in Cushing, OK and a gas spill on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. AP also reported this week that there have been over 300 oil spills in North Dakota over the last two years that went unreported until now to the public. To quote 13-year-old Anna Lee Rain YellowHammer, a Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Member: “Oil pipelines break, spill, and leak—it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of where and when.” Many pipelines, including the DAPL, are rerouted to avoid more affluent, white, and urban communities — another reason that pipelines are a racial justice issue.
The struggle that is happening at Standing Rock is connected to the struggles that we are a part of here at home. The oil that would run through the DAPL under the Missouri River is also carried by rail through Oregon, across tribal lands, over sensitive watersheds, and through both urban and rural communities. Down in Southern Oregon, indigenous and rural communities are fighting a proposed 232-mile pipeline that would export fracked gas from the rockies to markets overseas. This pipeline, which would be allowed to be constructed at lower safety standards because it would run through rural areas, is set to go under the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille Rivers and the Coos estuary, and it would desecrate traditional lands and cultural sites of the Klamath and Coos Tribes, among others.
Police violence, racial justice, climate and environmental crises, and the struggles of indigenous people on this continent have all made international headlines over the last few years because of multiple, intersecting movements that have been fighting to be heard and waging strategic and targeted actions at the people and corporations in power. These struggles are all coming together at Standing Rock.
I know that I’m not alone in thinking, “I need to do something.” If you’re at all like me, a rural Oregonian with your mind on Standing Rock, you might also be looking out your rainy window at a sleepy, fog-covered hillside trying to figure out what you can possibly do today to stand with people on the frontlines. It’s sometimes hard to tear ourselves away from tragic and moving images online, to overcome the grief that we feel for the experiences of others, and organize. But we are hearing loud and clear from our friends at Standing Rock that they need us to raise our voices with them:
1. Go to Standing Rock, or help sponsor other folks to go. You can donate gas money, lend your winter gear or vehicles, or offer to feed their pets. Resistance will continue through the winter, but it’s important that folks go soon because pipeline construction may be completed by the beginning of next year.
- Email email@example.com to communicate your plans with organizers on the ground.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are organizing a caravan to Standing Rock from Oregon or want to join one!
2. Take action in your own community:
- Gather your friends and neighbors to hold a demonstration at one of the many major banks that is profiting from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
- Move your money from Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and Chase to a local bank or credit union that invests in your community, not in the desecration of indigenous lands.
- Learn more and join the Global Solidarity network at NoDAPLSolidarity.org.
- Join members of the Red Warrior Camp and Black Lives Matter for a conference call this Sunday, October 30th at 5PM PST — click here to sign up.
3. Make phone calls and gather your friends, family and neighbors to hold a call-in party. Call the White House, your elected officials, company offices, and the offices of law enforcement and elected officials in North Dakota. Check out the call list at the bottom of this post from water protectors on the ground.
4. Donate money and materials — or better yet, hold a fundraiser! Fundraisers are happening across the state — organize your own or join one! We will keep a running list of events on our Facebook page.
- Want help organizing a fundraiser? Want help getting the word out about your fundraiser? Email email@example.com!
5. Want to learn more? Water protectors are fighting a modern fossil fuel infrastructure project, but they are also fighting in defense of ancestral lands and treaty rights — struggles that the Standing Rock Tribe and other indigenous peoples have been fighting for centuries.
- If you’re looking for a 101, start with the Standing Rock Syllabus put out by NYC Stands with Standing Rock.
- Also check out “How to Talk About #NoDAPL: a Native Perspective” by Kelly Hayes.
What’s happening where you live? Whose ancestral lands do you live on and how do the issues in your community impact them? How can you work with your neighbors and in solidarity with the people who are indigenous to this land? Now is the time to learn and take action!
No DAPL Call List:
Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200. When leaving a message stating your support for the NoDAPL movement please be respectful and ask for peaceful resolution, and that respect be shown for the constitutional rights of those engaging in nonviolent direct actions involving civil disobedience. Remind him that the 1960s Civil Rights movement gained success through similar peaceful actions and was met with extreme local state repression and violence that is unacceptable in the 21st century. Ask him to recuse himself from the State Industrial Commission and avoid conflicts of interest in his service to the People of North Dakota and Big Oil. Ask him to visit the camps and share prayers and songs with our people, to listen to us as human beings who want only to protect our children and our future generations, and our water.
Call the Morton County Sheriff’s Department at 701-667-3330 to ask them to demilitarize their tactics and protect ALL ND citizens and visitors. Request that they refrain from mass arrests, macing, clubbing, hooding, strip searching, and armed confrontation with UNARMED peaceful water protectors engaged in constitutionally protected civil disobedience. Ask them to inform their officers about treaty law, federal Indian law, and to provide training to their officers on sacred sites protections and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to deny the Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and remind his administration of their commitment to combating Climate Change, and to implementing green/renewable energy solutions — and that fracking and fracked oil are NOT clean energy. Tell them that Bakken oil extraction pollutes our air and water and yields millions of gallons of radioactive water and waste that is destroying our region’s future in the name of energy security — which is meaningless without water security in the arid Northern Plains.
Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they deny the DAPL the permit at (202) 761-5903. Remind them that the federally mandated Tribal Consultation Process is broken when Tribal Nations are merely informed that projects are already in process on our doorsteps, and we have been given no opportunity to propose alternatives.
Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:
Lee Hanse Executive Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 800 E Sonterra Blvd #400 San Antonio, Texas 78258 Telephone: (210) 403-6455 Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com
Glenn Emery Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 800 E Sonterra Blvd #400 San Antonio, Texas 78258 Telephone: (210) 403-6762 Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com
Michael (Cliff) Waters Lead Analyst Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 1300 Main St. Houston, Texas 77002 Telephone: (713) 989-2404 Michael.Waters@energytransfer.com”
Call Oregon’s Senators and Congress people and ask them to put pressure on the White House:
Senator Ron Wyden: (202) 224-5244
Senator Jeff Merkley: (202) 224-3753
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici – First District (Clatsop, Columbia, Washington, Yamhill and part of Multnomah County): DC (202) 225-0855 / Local (503) 469-6010
Rep. Greg Walden – Second District (Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Grants Pass area of Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler County): DC (202) 225-6730 / Bend (541) 389-4408 / La Grande (541) 624-2400 / Medford (541) 776-4646
Rep. Earl Blumenauer – Third District (Most of Multnomah and the northern part of Clackamas County): DC 202-225-4811/ Local 503-231-2300
Rep. Peter DeFazio – Fourth District (Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane, Linn, and most of Benton and Josephine County): DC (202) 225-6416 / Coos Bay (541) 269-2609 / Eugene (541) 465-6732 / Roseburg (541) 440-3523
Rep. Kurt Schrader – Fifth District (Lincoln, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, parts of northern Benton, most of Clackamas and parts of southwestern Multnomah County): DC (202) 225-5711 / Oregon City (503) 557-1324 / Salem (503) 588-9100