Fri Nov 4, 2016, 01:41 PM
niyad (55,934 posts)
For Native water protectors, Standing Rock protest has become fight for religious freedom, human
For Native ‘water protectors,’ Standing Rock protest has become fight for religious freedom, human rights
Lauren Howland (Jicarilla Apache), 21, stands before police in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Howland is one of thousands who have protested along with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to support their fight to protect the Missouri River from pipeline construction. Photo by Jenni Monet for The PBS NewsHour.
The tops of teepees could be seen in the distance, east of where a standoff between police and protesters was intensifying. Draped in a Pendleton blanket stood Casey Camp-Horinek praying in the middle of North Dakota Highway 1806. The Ponca woman, a respected traditionalist, was singing with a sacred pipe gripped in her hands. A small group had gathered closely around her. One indigenous elder stood with an eagle staff, a sacred prayer stick, by his side. “This is your last chance,” boomed a voice from the intercom of a nearby armored truck. The prayer group didn’t budge. Camp-Horinek continued to sing. Dozens of protesters looked on, some chanting a slogan that has branded the anti-pipeline campaign: “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life”.
For months, demonstrators — who prefer to be called water protectors — have occupied land along the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, staging prayer ceremonies. Their latest action to defend the Missouri River occurred Wednesday near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Protesters attempted to build a bridge to cross the Cantapeta Creek. Some even swam to confront police who they criticize for their continued guarding of the energy project.
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Local and state law enforcement and troops with the National Guard conducted a military-style sweep of a site where demonstrators had gathered to try and block the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Jenni Monet for The PBS NewsHour
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Camp-Horinek and members of her prayer circle were arrested and charged with all three crimes. Moments before their arrests, officers formed a human blockade around the small group as the voice from the armored vehicle bellowed two repeated orders: “leave the roadway; leave private property.” “I’ve never felt so centered and grounded and protected as I did at that particular moment,” said Camp-Horinek. “Even the noise cannon didn’t effect me, the pepper spray, the jostling. I sprinkled water in a circle around me and that protected me.”
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A demonstrator protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline is pepper-sprayed by law enforcement during the October 27 raid near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Officers from several states and soldiers with the National Guard assisted the Morton County Sheriff’s Department in an operation that involved using pepper spray, Tazers, rubber bullets and MRAP sirens to disperse the demonstration. Photo by Jenni Monet for The PBS NewsHour.
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Two separate investigations are now underway in review of Morton County’s response to the anti-pipeline occupation. Amnesty International has sent a delegation to monitor the activity of law enforcement. Special envoys with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) also began their fact-finding mission. Also arriving to Standing Rock this week is a team from the Department of Justice promoting dialogue between law enforcement, tribal leaders and government officials. In the aftermath of the October 27 standoff, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II has threatened to sue the state of North Dakota. “I will not negotiate,” Archambualt said. “I don’t see any give. It’s only take,” he said, referring to state and energy officials.
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