Broken Treaties Central to the Injustice of the Dakota Access Pipeline

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Story Transcript

JOE: We’re here on the northern edge of Standing Rock Sioux reservation at the mouth of the Cannonball River which empties into the Missouri River, which is an area that was a very powerful part of several significant treaty documents that were signed between the Great Sioux Nation. One in 1851 and one in 1868.

JOYE BRAUN: We didn’t go over to where they’re actively building which is just over the hill, right where the desecrated burial sites are and in order to protect the burial sites, on this side of the river.

JOE: Our leadership informed us that our morning gathering that we’re going to be, instead of going to the DAPL site to do our prayers – at the very last minute before we cut that line and went towards DAPL, everybody turned east and we came down the ravine. We went up the road and down on this ditch and the leadership cut the wire here and we brought our nation of decedents from the 1851 and the 1868 treaties across the road and onto this unceded territory and we established out right to live here. We set up our camps, our homes.

BRAUN: [inaud.] has declared eminent domain on Energy Transfer Partners, Dakota Access Pipeline, on their right of way through here. This is unceded treaty territory. Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

JOE: Eminent domain is a piece of land that a government through their governmental powers or a military group or any group in the world or individual, just moves onto some land and declares that it’s theirs.

From 1851 on there’s been quite a few congressional acts. Quite a few legislative documents. All of them purported to be at the consent of the Great Sioux Nation.

ROBBY ROMERO: The government has many ways to steal the land, to steal the resources. Right now around the world there is a huge grab by extractive industry. Especially the fossil fuels industry.

JOE: We were supposedly free to continue living on our land and not be forced to be removed. The treaty stipulated that there was to be no any outside parties coming in, injuring the land or animals or the inhabitants here. As we came along through time, between then and now, some of the legislative acts, one of the great acts was the Homestead Act which told the United States citizens that this land was open for settlement regardless of whether there was a ratified treaty in place or not. Then there was the Dawes Allotment Act and again that started to break our people down even more.

ROMERO: So since the original treaties, in this case since 1851, the treaties have been violated by the United States government. They’ve been violated in very many ways. They’ve been violated by having a family or an appointed person by the United States government, sign a treaty or the bribery or corruption of our own leaders to sign treaties that do not represent the people’s will. That’s one way.

Other ways are the legislation and programs implemented to deculturalize our people to create situations where they can take the land and steal the land through their laws that they’re constantly breaking and then changing if they don’t work for them. So these are manmade laws and as Gandhi said long ago, there are unjust men as there are unjust laws and that’s what’s happening here today at Standing Rock.

JOE: Through the different generations between then and now, we’ve been very unsuccessful in getting into a fair court that is going to recognize – any fair United States court, that’s going to recognize the validity of those treaties and give our land back. So we’ve kind of gone along that trail all this time and we’ve pushed and pushed and pushed on a step on a step on us take and take and take. Now here they’re bringing oil across the land.

We don’t have nothing left to fight with. We don’t have no resources and money and such. Our lands are still not recognized by the United States government. So we are going to towards the World Court. But in the meantime our people here are suffering a great stress. It’s not just the Native people and the Native cultures who are going to be effected. It’s going to affect people all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. So we’ve run out of things to fight with. So now we’re picking up the 1858 treaty again and now we’re picking up the 1868 treaties.

ROMERO: We have negotiators, UN mediators negotiating on our behalf for a peaceful resolution which is to stop this black snake from moving forward.

BRAUN: We decided to make the highway 1806, our no surrender line. So we needed to move camp anyway for winter camps so we decided this is the best time to do it. We’re in absolute imminent danger right now.

JOE: So where we are today, we really are a nation just asking for these people to stop destroying our land endangering the lives of the future generations.

End

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