Pitted against 3 government agencies, the water protectors at Standing Rock brace for even harsher treatment
Written by Carol Benedict
Photo: @zap seattle/Twitter
There are three separate agencies involved in the stand-off at Standing Rock. Each of these agencies has mounted their own defenses to try to force the completion of a pipe line that does not have the full permitting and authorization required by law. Energy Transfer Partners and Dakota Access Pipe Line are both operating against a direct order of President Obama’s to stop within 20 miles of the lake and have stated they do not intend to stop until this pipeline is completed.
Earlier in the controversy, DAPL hired private security forces from outside the state of North Dakota. They arrived with attack dogs and other means of attacking the protesters, but had no permits or authorization within the state. DAPL allowed them to operate anyway, deciding that they could operate outside the law.
On November 25, the US Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the tribes at Sacred Stone Camp, informing them that as of December 5, their presence would be subject to prosecution. The reasons behind this decision was the escalating violence at the action site, even though the violence is coming only from the law enforcement authorities.
The US government has maintained that the land in question is federal land: public land they are authorized to control under their jurisdiction.
The water protectors believe this same spot of land was granted them in an 1851 treaty and they have never ceded that land.
Morton County officials have also sought the assistance from the US Border Patrol (a branch of the Department of Homeland Security) in the militarized police presence at the Standing Rock encampments. To date, the tactics used against the protesters include water cannons, grenades, rubber bullets and other means of crowd control usually deployed in urban settings. Their actions have caused enough concern that the United Nations is now investigating these actions as human rights violations.
Morton County and the state of North Dakota have effectively removed all arguments from the Army Corps of Engineers claim of federal land by involving the US Border Patrol.
US Border Control can only be activated within 100 miles of what is recognized as a border to another country or sovereign nation. By involving Border Patrol, the state and county are both officially recognizing the sovereignty rights of the water protectors, yet feel empowered to evict them from their own land under this premise.
In order for supporters to come to the Sacred Stone encampments, they must agree to bringing no weapons, alcohol or drugs of any kind. The camp, now at over 400 people, lives in prayer and peace with conversations between tribes, between generations and between indigenous and non-indigenous people. These are Americans, who believe they have as much a right to clean water and land rights as you and I.
Think about it.