December 9th, 2016
Last month, rural and small town leaders within the ROP network came together to plan how rural Oregon can best stand in solidarity with water protectors and Native leadership organizing at Standing Rock. Thousands of indigenous and non-Native allies from across the continent had come together at Standing Rock to stand up to multinational corporations preparing to drill the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in order to protect and defend clean water. As militarized police and private security brutally suppressed action after action led by determined indigenous folks on the literal frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, the brave water protectors at Standing Rock called for as many people as possible to show up at Standing Rock to stand with them in solidarity. ROP and human dignity leaders heard that call and committed to take action. We made plans to send a contingent of rural Oregonians, prioritizing seats for Native and Indigenous folks, to stand on the frontlines and to help fortify the camps for winter under the guidance of Native and Indigenous leaders at Standing Rock. We called on rural and small town Oregonians to get on a bus out to Standing Rock, holding fundraisers and gear drives, and organizing solidarity actions targeting the small town branches of national banks that hope to profit from DAPL.
On December 4th, it was announced that the Army Corp of Engineers would ultimately not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River. This is an incredible victory made possible by the inspiring and courageous work of the water protectors! Since then, the call for solidarity from Standing Rock leadership has evolved. While supplies are still desperately needed at various camps, weather crises have made travel to Standing Rock incredibly dangerous. Earlier this week a devastating blizzard hit the encampments, and now another blizzard is on its way, followed by a polar vortex. The camp has issued announcements that they will not accept any new visitors because of serious safety concerns. They have called on everyone seeking to offer solidarity to organize in their home communities. While the denial for the easement is a huge victory, this is far from over and we must be organizing for the long haul.
On Thursday evening, ROP convened an urgent phone call with all bus riders gearing up to depart for Standing Rock on Friday evening. We held a collective decision making process with ROP staff, Board members, local leaders, and our “advance team” of staff and rural community leaders who are currently on the ground at Standing Rock. We had the opportunity to share the advice given to us by Native leadership on the ground and to discuss the shifting political context, the change in calls for solidarity coming from Standing Rock, and to evaluate the logistics of our trip. We then made a decision together as a group about our next steps.
As a group of 50 rural Oregonians deeply committed to standing with Standing Rock, we asked each other, how does rural Oregon show up for Standing Rock now? Together we reached consensus that we will wait for the weather to clear and send a smaller contingent of rural Oregonians with the flexibility to travel who will deliver the gear, supplies, and resources we have collectively raised. All of the funds and resources we have raised will still go directly to Standing Rock as soon as possible. This smaller contingent will be committed to sharing in the work of driving out to Standing Rock and working in subzero temperatures while at camp.
From the beginning of this project, our purpose was for rural Oregon to stand in solidarity with the water protectors and Native leadership organizing out at Standing Rock. Six weeks ago, the call was to bring as many people as possible to offer needed skills to build infrastructure for the camp and to show up on the frontlines. Because of this unprecedented victory, the political moment has now shifted. The incredible work the water protectors are doing is pivoting to focus on divesting from companies that seek to profit from DAPL and hitting investors in their pocketbooks.
A coalition of camps and organizations at Standing Rock have made this call:
We ask you to join us in an unprecedented divestment campaign to kill the black snake financially. We will also ask you to engage in the development of the Environmental Impact Statement to the extent that the public is invited to participate, and guide you through that process. But let us use this time to cut off funding for the project.
December is an international month of action focused on the 17 banks that are profiting off investments in the Dakota Access pipeline. Shut these banks down with direct action. Close your accounts and tell the world you’re doing it. Pressure your local jurisdictions and philanthropists to divest. Every day is a day of action!
This fight is not over, not even close. In fact, this fight is escalating. The incoming Trump administration promises to be a friend to the oil industry and an enemy to Indigenous people. It is unclear what will happen with the river crossing. Now more than ever, we ask that you stand with us as we continue to demand justice.
As the situations shifts, so do our tactics and strategies. Bus riders, human dignity group leaders, ROPers, and water protectors are recommitting ourselves to standing in solidarity with the water protectors and Native leadership organizing at Standing Rock by answering the call to organize in our hometowns. Last night, this courageous group of over 50 folks committed to traveling for days to stand with water protectors on the frontlines, began brainstorming how we can organize our neighbors and friends to divest from the companies and banks that hope to profit from DAPL, and pledged to fight pipelines and projects similar to DAPL that threaten our water, our communities, and Native ancestral lands in Oregon and across the Northwest.
As your group continues organizing and making your plans, here are a few resources:
Now is the time to amplify the message water protectors to join the divestment campaign, organize in our home communities and be prepared for next steps. Just today there was a hearing in the Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court requested by Energy Transfer Partners to allow them to complete the project. Let’s take action together. Share with ROP what your human dignity group is thinking and what actions you plan to take.
We also have a victory to celebrate here in Oregon today! Back in March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the application to construct and operate the Pacific Connector Pipeline, a 234-mile-long interstate natural gas pipeline. It also denied the construction and operation of the Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal. FERC just announced that they will uphold this decision and will not grant a rehearing.
Thousands of rural Oregonians, dozens of communities and over 10 years of organizing have gone into stopping this project. We know that this decision will likely be taken to court, but let’s celebrate this victory and stay vigilant to protect our communities, our land and our water in rural Oregon!
Stay tuned for further updates from rural Oregon and beyond as we take action to protect our communities in Oregon and across the Northwest.