A historic confrontation is taking place at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) site in North Dakota. The diabolical plan is for the DAPL to run from the northwest North Dakota Bakken Shell oil field shale into Illinois, and then transport this dirty crude to Gulf of Mexico refineries to be sent overseas.
It threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Those at the site don’t call themselves protestors; they are Water Protectors.
The vigil is sponsored by Mothers Out Front Hampton Roads. Kim Williams, a volunteer with the group and one of the vigil organizers, says they responded to a call from nodaplsolidarity.org for local support actions.
“We’ll be there in solidarity with their right to exist,” she said, noting the obvious, that water is essential to life.
The pipeline’s original route took it by Bismarck. Folks there opposed it, fearing contamination of their water supply.
“This whole issue is due to terrible environmental racism,” Kim said. She pointed out that the powerful in the state’s capital, with a mostly white, fairly well off population, were listened to. They have clout. DAPL was rerouted to run by poor, rural American Indians whose voices don’t matter. It’s nothing new. Studies document that minority areas, by far, suffer the most from environmental pollution.
At the Norfolk rally, those Standing With Standing Rock will make their voices heard. You can expect, and participate in, chanting and sign waving. There will also be a powerful, portable battery-operated P.A. system, open to all. Musicians, poets, speakers, spoken-word artists and more are welcome.
Please be advised: Wear comfortable walking/marching footwear. If the news media – which have woefully and shamefully ignored what’s happening at Standing Rock – don’t show up, we just might have to March For Standing Rock to the nearby offices of The Virginian-Pilot and WTKR.
Mothers Out Front Hampton Roads describe themselves as follows: “We are empowered mothers, grandmothers and others who use the strength of our voices to lead our community to the widespread use of renewable energy.” Their motto is “Mobilizing for a livable climate.” They got going here last January. Kim said: “We’re in the organizing stage, working on building capacity through house parties.” They also hold team meetings at places such as libraries, if you would like to continue your activism beyond this evening’s event.
This is the first action they’ve sponsored. Previously, they joined in at the Moms Clean Air Force’s Play-In: Moms Vote for Clean Air at Mt. Trashmore in September and in the March on the Mansion in Richmond last July, calling on Governor McAuliffe to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia away from dirty fossil fuels, pipelines and fracking and into a sustainable future with clean energy.
The problem with pipelines is a statewide issue right here at home. There are several projects underway, and Virginians are actively opposing them.
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. The people of Standing Rock are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. Dakota and Lakota mean “friends” or “allies.”
They now have allies a-plenty. To fight the DAPL, all the Native Tribes of North America have gathered together for the first time in over 100 years. Indigenous peoples from around the world, as well as countless supporters from here and abroad, have journeyed to the encampment. Thousands are involved in this showdown.
The Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868 guarantees, under Article 2, that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe shall enjoy the “undisturbed use and occupation” of their permanent homeland, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties are the supreme law of the land.
But the response to the encampment by the government, law enforcement from several states, and DAPL security has been brutal. They’ve attacked the Water Protectors with infiltration, gunfire, rubber bullets, pepper spray, mace, sound cannons, beatings, and arrests. Prisoners have been locked up in dog kennels with unpadded cement floors before being taken away to jail. Reminiscent of concentration camp practices, arrestees’ arms were marked with numbers.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II, along with other tribal leaders, took their embattled peoples’ case to the United Nations.
“I am here because oil companies are causing the deliberate destruction of our sacred places and burials,” he said at the 33rd Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Dakota Access wants to build an oil pipeline under the river that is the source of our nation’s drinking water. This pipeline threatens our communities, the river and the earth. Our nation is working to protect our waters and our sacred places for the benefit of our children not yet born.”
They now have the backing of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which issued a statement: “Given these circumstances, we call on the government of the United States to comply with the provisions recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure the right of the Sioux to participate in decision-making, considering that the construction of this pipeline will affect their rights, lives and territory.”
The U.N. noted that DAPL threatens not only the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe but also the Missouri River – the pipeline’s route would cross it – and the millions of people who live downstream.
Officials from the U.N., as well as Amnesty International, are either on their way or are already at Standing Rock to investigate allegations of human rights violations. If we can’t head out to North Dakota, the least, the very least, we can do as allies of our sisters and brothers at Standing Rock is to join the Solidarity Vigil tonight. I hope to see you there.