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For the past few years the oil companies have wanted to build the Keystone oil pipeline from the Bakken region in North Dakota to Kansas City. President Obama stopped the project because the pipeline would cross over key underground water aquifers and rivers, putting them at risk for pollution in case of inevitable oil spills.
But another problem is that the pipeline would cross the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, and it seems that no one is taking them into consideration. They have begun a peaceful protest, and in response, the governor of North Dakota issued a “state of emergency” and has now cut off water supplies to the protesters and blocked off roads so that others have to travel a long distance to join them.
The US government avidly supports violent protests in other countries, such as Syria, and even supplies it with weapons and cash support. But a peaceful protest against our own government policy is not welcome at all. It seems that protests are only allowed if they agree with the government in its support of Big Business. An Indian protest is viewed as an uprising.
Alayna Eagle Shield, 26, daughter of John Eagle Shield, is a language and cultural teacher. She has been active at the camp since its inception.
“We are very prayerful, we are peaceful, and we just want to protect our water and land,” Alayna said. “You can't come to this gathering and not feel the love, the prayer, the spirit of our ancestors, the amazing feelings of all the tribes coming together.”
Activities at the campsites over the weekend included a mix of cultural and educational opportunities for those gathered, including canoeing, horseback riding, welcoming youth runners from Cheyenne River, women’s circle teachings led by community elders, traditional meetings of the appointed leaders from the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux Nation, songs, dances, feasting, and many, many prayers.
Considering the peaceful and frankly wholesome nature of the gathering, the roadblocks and detours leading to the reservation guarded by heavily armed law enforcement officers called in from around the state of North Dakota due to Governor Jack Darlymple’s recently issued declaration of emergency seem baffling.
North Dakota taxpayers—including those from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—are wondering why they, and not the billion-dollar oil companies, are footing the bill to protect public safety, especially because the gathering has been entirely peaceful and nonviolent.
“With all due respect, the Governor’s declaration of emergency was unfortunate. I wish he had consulted with the tribe,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement.
“We are just as conscious of the need for public safety as the Governor,” the Chairman continued. “Everyone needs to keep in mind that our families are the ones most affected by the Governor’s decision to close parks, blockade roads, and use the language of confrontation rather than cooperation.”
Another article says:
Support has spread across the country, and thousands have descended on the peaceful “prayer camps” in recent days, prompting state officials on Monday to remove the demonstrators’ drinking water supply….
Tribal activists say the state’s response, which includes surveillance, road blockades with military checkpoints, and a state of emergency declaration, has been overly aggressive and manipulative.
“It is deeply ironic that the Governor would release emergency funds under the guise of public health and safety, but then remove the infrastructure that helps ensure health and safety in the camp,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth.
LaDonna Allard, director of one of the prayer camps, said, “The gathering here remains 100 percent peaceful and ceremonial, as it has from day one. We are standing together in prayer…Why is a gathering of Indians so inherently threatening and frightening to some people?”
Unfortunately, our government has a long history of doing things that make others angry, disrespecting them, and inducing them to violence. When this tactic succeeds, then the government rises up in righteous indignation, blaming others for disturbing the peace, and using the violence as a pretext for war or military suppression.
I am reminded of the old cartoon of the boy returning home with a black eye, explaining to his dad, "Joe started it when he hit me back."
I thank God that He is intervening in the earth to establish righteous government “with liberty and justice for all” and without double standards.