This past weekend I traveled with friends to visit the Standing Rock Reservation where Indians are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). There are over 200 Indian tribal groups represented at this non-violent protest, the largest gathering of Tribes since the Little Big Horn Battle. They are protesting the likely oil leaking from this pipeline polluting the water they rely on to live. The water is rivers, lakes, and the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the world that supplies water to eight north central U.S. states. The slogan is: "Water is life". Energy Transfer Partners, LP building DAPL have used unethical tactics at every stage, and have decided to put a pipe under Lake Oahe, that is the Missouri River, despite not having the proper permits to do so from the Army Corp of Engineers. Energy Transfer Partners have used Eminent Domain to gain access to Reservation land. This may be a violation for two reasons: 1) Eminent Domain is for governments to use for public benefit. This is a private company building a pipeline lacking public benefit. 2) Eminent Domain is a clear violation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868 giving the Sioux Tribe sovereignty over the Reservation. This Treaty is still valid today.
The Company have also recruited police from surround states to arrest demonstrators for trespassing on private land. All this land is on the Standing Rock Reservation, and land "ownership" is complicated. The company has been fined by courts for digging up Indian burial grounds. The question of who is trespassing on whom is not clear. This main camp has about 3,000 residents (my unscientific estimate), and there are at least four other camps. The main camp has become a small city with medical facilities, mental health facilities, food distribution, food cooking, clothing distribution, a sanitation system (porta-poties and dumpsters), and firewood. Life will be increasingly difficult here with the coming of winter.
Last Sunday about 30 demonstrators were arrested while on public roads after they prayed at the pipeline site and then left. On Monday there were photos posted on Facebook of a herd of wild American Bison which the Pipeline Company has put behind razor wire. It is unclear why they did this or if these buffalo are being fed and watered.