6 October 2016
Indigenous Peoples' Solidarity: CPT-IPS team visits No Dakota Access Pipeline camps
by Kody Hersh
"The Creator is our weapon," a speaker said at a community meeting in the Sacred Stone Spirit camp, "and we need no other."
Responding to an inquiry about presence at the No Dakota Access Pipeline camps near Cannonball, ND, the CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team recently organized a short trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to explore what support they could offer water defenders. The camps have become a gathering place for many peoples opposing the threat the Bakken oil pipeline poses to the Missouri River and other shared waterways.
Our small delegation camped at the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, the first of three camps to be established at Standing Rock. Ladonna Brave Bull Allard, a Lakota tribal historian on whose land the camp is located, described the objectives of the camp as protecting the water, preventing the Dakota Access Pipeline, building a community of people who care for and respect one another and the land, and bringing about a shift in world thought with regard to humans' relationship with the earth. During our time there, we heard repeatedly that "this is a camp founded on prayer."
At the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, and the smaller Red Warrior Camp, the energy and focus are slightly different but share a common goal in protecting the waters. At the main camp, the first thing you witness as you enter is flags along the road representing the Indigenous communities at the camp. The cultural vibrancy and expansiveness of the camp was stunning with ceremony and messages from the Elders frequently being amplified to the camp.
In a large tent on a hill overlooking the camp, CPT-IPS met with members of the camp's legal assistance team to learn more about the call for international observers and the legal team's work. The afternoon we left, they were about to conduct a Know Your Rights workshop for people engaged in direct action. They have already organized to support members of the camp in their police interactions and criminal proceedings.
We were also able to meet with organizers who are committed to stopping the construction of the pipeline through nonviolent direct action. We heard about recent actions, arrests, and the ongoing need for trained volunteers who can observe and document these actions.
A few days before our visit, riot police arrested twenty-four people at gunpoint during a nonviolent direct action at the nearby construction site, and several leaders reported the presence of snipers in nearby hills. Police have met the nonviolent actions of camp participants with a heavily militarized response arresting twenty-one during a September 28 prayer action at the construction site.
From both camp leaders and the legal assistance team, CPT received clear invitations to join in the work of the Standing Rock water defenders and CPT hopes to organize a supportive presence. There is also a general invitation for people to visit these camps in North Dakota and help amplify the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We also lift up the following ways that supporters can assist the camps from a distance:
1. Pray for the camp communities, for a quick and decisive end to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and for a shift in settler relationships with both indigenous peoples and the earth. Invite others to join you in this prayer.
2. Send money to support the legal defence of water defenders’ involved in prayerful, nonviolent direct action: https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/red-warrior-camp-legal-fund-nodapl