The fight to save the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the Dakotas took a shocking turn over the holiday weekend when contractor Energy Transfer Partners brought in bulldozers and began systematically destroying ancient burial grounds and other archaeological sites in preparation for the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.
The ongoing struggle between clean-water protesters and corporate goons already turned violent this weekend, when private security forces unleashed attack dogs on the protesters, leading to multiple injuries among the peaceful activists. They didn’t stop there, however, bringing in bulldozers and began scouring the proposed site, causing “irreparable harm” to sacred lands before they were legally allowed to do so.
“Just to recap: On Friday, the Standing Rock Nation filed papers challenging Dakota Access permits from the Army Corps of Engineers’… because in a recent survey of the area, the tribe found many incredibly sacred sites, including burial sites, directly in the path of the proposed pipeline. The tribe had never been allowed to survey these areas before, so they hadn’t been able to document these sites.
Today, barely 24 hours after those papers were filed, Dakota Access used bulldozers to destroy those sites. It was absolute destruction. They literally bulldozed the ancestors right out of the ground, along with destroying tipi rings and cairns. They did all of this while assaulting peaceful resistors using vicious dogs, tear gas, and pepper spray.
There’s only one conclusion: they are attempting to provoke us to violence. They learned exactly how to hurt us the most and then they threw it all in our faces. They were smiling and laughing the whole time…evil grins on their faces as their dogs tore in to peaceful water protectors. It is one of the saddest and most shocking things I have ever seen. Please tell the world what is happening.”
The Sioux have filed a motion to stop the construction of the pipeline, which they say was undertaken without consulting them. A judge is expected to hand down a decision on September 9th, but Energy Transfer Partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have decided to go ahead anyway, showing a callous willingness to perpetuate the cultural genocide of America’s original inhabitants and a flagrant disregard for the legal process – and in violation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which the United States is a signatory.
LaDonna Bravebull Allard, historical preservation officer for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Section 106, describes just how heinous a crime is truly being committed here:
“Of the 380 archeological sites that face desecration along the entire pipeline route, from North Dakota to Illinois, 26 of them are right here at the confluence of these two rivers. It is a historic trading ground, a place held sacred not only by the Sioux Nations, but also the Arikara, the Mandan, and the Northern Cheyenne.”
The U.S. government is wiping out our most important cultural and spiritual areas. And as it erases our footprint from the world, it erases us as a people. These sites must be protected, or our world will end, it is that simple. Our young people have a right to know who they are. They have a right to language, to culture, to tradition. The way they learn these things is through connection to our lands and our history. If we allow an oil company to dig through and destroy our histories, our ancestors, our hearts and souls as a people, is that not genocide?”
Erasing the cultural heritage of the Dakota people is one of the final steps left to complete the white extermination of Native American peoples. Destroying sacred sites in order to install a water-polluting and climate-warming fossil fuel pipeline seems so outrageously sinister it would be comical it if weren’t so very real and very pressing.
The American people’s abuse of and disregard for the indigenous peoples of this land is one of the blackest marks on our nation’s history. Share this story, and let your voice be heard. Join ranks with the Standing Rock and let them know that the preservation of their heritage matters to you – and that the murderous sins of our forefathers weigh heavily on your heart.
— Shadi Rahimi (@shadirahimi) September 6, 2016
If you’d like to help, here are some ways:
— Kelly (@K2Runs) September 6, 2016
— Kelly (@K2Runs) September 6, 2016
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.