When protesters in North Dakota were attacked by pepper spray and attack dogs over Labor Day weekend, many mainstream media outlets reported on it, but afterwards, there has been very little, if any coverage on what is actually going on in Western North Dakota. I had the opportunity to communicate with Leili Crows Heart over the past several days, and she shared with me some several important pieces of insider information in which I am about to share.
If you are unaware of any of this, lets start with some background. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil pipeline which starts in the Bakken and Three Forks regions of North Dakota and is planned to also run through South Dakota, Iowa and eventually link up with an existing line in Illinois. It will run for approximately 1,172 miles in a 30 inch diameter pipeline that will carry 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of oil per day. The project is an estimated $3.78 billion investment that will create 8,000 – 12,000 jobs during construction.
For more background, you can check their official facts page here:
Over Labor Day weekend, Democracy Now put out a video showing contracted security teams pepper spraying and using attack dogs on protesters attempting to stop construction on the pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux’s historical ancestry burial grounds. The video was highly edited it seemed, and didn’t really show the entire truth, but it did still an outrage on social media. Some reports indicated the the protesters trespassed on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, and this is why the security team was used and arrests were made. Even Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman was issued an arrest warrant for covering the story.
Leili Crows Heart is a member of The Affiliated Tribes, which consists of the Mandans, Hidatsa and Arikara, located on the Ft. Berthold Reservation which is divided into 5 segments due to construction back in 1953 of the Garrison Dam. When this dam was built, it divided the tribes and physically separated them from each other. With this new activity at Standing Rock, the tribes are coming back together. Leili was able to tell me that there are currently 260 tribes at Standing Rock at the camp. During, and right after the attack dog incident, Leili and others started to notice that several of their Facebook posts were being deleted after they were shared. They were trying to reach out to anyone who would listen, but perhaps Facebook didn’t want anyone to hear. Upon my first look at her Facebook page, I was shocked at how little information that was actually there, and she told me she used to have a lot more, and she had to keep re-posting the same thing several times as it kept being deleted. Keep in mind, that cell phone coverage is very poor, or unavailable in this remote part of North Dakota, which makes it difficult for anyone to get news out in a timely manner.
I asked her about local news coverage, and she replied as, “We watch the news waiting to see if there is any actual truth getting out. But no. Just the sheriff telling outright lies. Everyone believes him because ND is a racist as f..k state!” As far as any national news scene, she informed me that she has only witnessed Democracy Now and Nat Geo. She along with others have been trying to get this news out there, but no one seems to be listening. “Standing Rock needs to be on the national news. They need to be heard and seen that they are peaceful PROTECTORS of the land. They pray and sing in prayer all day everyday. Elders and children alike.”
The area that was being worked on the day of the incident, wasn’t even supposed to happening. It has been reported that this particular area was on Army Corps of Engineers land, when in fact it was on private property. It was part of the scheduled route, but previously they had been working about 1 1/2 miles away. On this day, they moved the bulldozers to this area and upon hearing the noise of the machines, people started to ascend onto the area to get them to stop. Wouldn’t you be upset to discover this going on if you were in their place?
Why did they pick this area to bulldoze that day? Here is where it get interesting. The landowner noticed some previously unknown rock cairns (a pile of rocks set up as a landmark) and had notified the tribe. Upon the tribe investigating the area, they notified the state, who decided to halt the digging until more information could be gathered and get surveying done to discover the expanse of the burial site area. It was the very next day that they moved the bulldozers and starting working in the area, again moving their equipment 1 and a half miles from their last work area. This is the reason for the controversy. According to Leili, they bulldozed right away in order to hide and destroy their ancestors and sacred burial sites. The protesters were only trying to protect these sites and artifacts and were not out there to incite a riot. They didn’t fight, just defended.
“We’re worried about the planet. DAPL is worried about making money no matter what it destroys. That’s what the government/corporation is doing. They are going to suck the last breath of life from our mother earth if we don’t stop them. We’re worried about the planet!” Leila told me.
As far as the people being arrested for trespassing, Leila told me that the land owner had granted permission for them to be there, so I expect the charges to be dropped eventually, including the charge for Amy Goodman.
All work has been supposedly been halted, but the tensions have not.
Please share this as they need a voice, and no one is listening.
Here are some other people out in the area who are posting daily, if not more frequently if you would like more information.
On Facebook: Waniya Locke, We Are The Media , Indigenous Americans, Linda Black Elk