Fires rage in Dakota as tribes and protesters fight for land rights

Nathanael Williams

As tribes fight for land rights, accusations of sabotage surround the stand-off between protesters and oil businesses 

NATIVE AMERICAN PROTESTERS claim to have been the subject of “extreme” use of force by law enforcement and fire sabotage as they protest the proposed Dakota access oil pipeline.

The Standing Rock protesters, members of the Sioux and Sicangu Lakota tribes, have been fighting against the development of the $3.8bn pipeline since April this year, but have been pushed off the site following weeks of protest and clashes with federal and state forces.

Protests supporting the tribe have been going on for months, with more than 260 people arrested for interfering with the project in North Dakota because they assert the 1,172 mile pipe, which would deliver oil and gas across native land, would taint water supplies and tribal burial sites.

Writer and rapper, Prolific, recounting the chaos in the camp after the blaze

Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation, in an open letter to President Obama, said: “You are ignoring our pleas to use your time as president to move us toward sustainable development as fast as possible, because of our Mother Earth – our Grandmother Earth, is sick and has a fever.

“We as people that want to do Creator’s work are stuck with using oil, because it is all you have allowed to invest into this country.

“It is time you stop this desecration of our sacred sites, which have been indicated by our traditional cultural tracker, Tim Mentz. He has been ignored by DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline planners], who now have police and National Guards protection as they continue to desecrate our sacred places.”

Protesters who occupied the land protected by the 1851 Fort Laramie treaty also claimed that “agitators” infiltrated and started a fire in order to dismantle the protesters’ encampment and disrupt their protest. The blaze started on Sunday and spread across a range of 400 acres of rural ground. There have also been protests around the rest of the US as community groups, environmentalists and other tribes attempt to put pressure on businesses and politicians associated with the Dakota Access pipeline owners, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.

Protesters gather in Washington in solidarity with tribes in North Dakota

The Traditional Elders Council of the Indian Nations added: “We are a part of creation; thus, if we break the laws of creation, we destroy ourselves

“We, the original caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold the original instructions, which sustains the continuity of life. These self-destructive activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.

“We respect and honor our spiritual relationship with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their mother’s blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water.”

State authorities have said they will look into the cause of the fire. Amnesty International announced on Saturday that it would be sending observers to the campsite near the town of Cannon Ball to investigate claims of “excessive” use of tear gas, smoke grenades and sexual harassment by heavily armed state police forces. 

Images and Videos courtesy of Youtube and Medicine Nation

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