Native Americans Hold Largest Convergence in a Century to Oppose Oil Pipeline
Krystal Two Bulls, a Water Protector of Red Warrior Camp, encourages the public to join the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline which threatens the water supply of the local population
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: It’s being called the largest gathering of Native Americans in a century. This week, eight were arrested in North Dakota, along with 30 in Iowa, trying to halt the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. This is part of a growing indigenous-led movement to stop the pipeline, which will span four states and carry half a million barrels of crude oil. Supporters say it will bring jobs and clean energy, but critics say it endangers drinking water and sites sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux, and potentially millions of others, in a filed lawsuit in federal court.
Well, now joining us to discuss this is Krystal Two Bulls. She’s a water protector with Red Warrior Camp, and she just returned home to Albuquerque after spending two weeks there.
Thanks so much for joining us.
KRYSTAL TWO BULLS, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, RED WARRIOR CAMP: Thank you.
NOOR: So I wanted to start off by reading you a quote from the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners. They have told the media they will prosecute protesters to the maximum extent of the law, both criminally and civilly, and they say, quote, “it’s a shameful act by a group of people trying to disrupt our energy security and independence.” The company’s filed a restraining order against the Standing Rock Sioux CEO. Give us your response to this.
TWO BULLS: Well, I think what they’re doing is a shameful act. I mean, destroying or potentially destroying water, I think that’s something that’s major that is something that impacts everybody, not just one corporation. The fact that right now corporations’ rights are being upheld over the people’s rights is really concerning. And so I think that statement from the corporation itself speaks volumes to the state of this country right now.
NOOR: And so talk about what’s been happening in North Dakota. Some have called it the largest gathering of Native Americans in a century. And there’s also other activists. We know you have supporters from Black Lives Matter coming there as well. It’s a massive camp-out. And people are committing civil disobedience. There are supplies coming from all over the country. I was watching a video with 80 trucks of supplies that just came in today. Describe the scene when you were there and what the demands of this movement are.
TWO BULLS: Man. The encampment itself is just beautiful. I mean, I definitely invite everyone to come down and to look at it. And I do agree that it is the largest gathering of tribal nations across this country. Yeah. I mean, the word beautiful just encompasses it. It’s a large encampment right where the Cannonball River meets the Missouri River. We’re located right next to the Cannonball.
This is the first time that the Seven Council Fires–so the seven different bands of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, or also known as the Great Sioux Nation–have been together since 1876, the Battle of Little Bighorn. And that was the only time the U.S. military has been defeated on what they claim to be the United States’ turf. And so all of those tribes have come back together again, in addition to 70-plus more nations from across this country.
And it’s a beautiful sight to see. Definitely a lot of prayer. The camp itself was started by the Sacred Stone Camp. A group of young people had actually stood up and said that they didn’t want this pipeline going through their lands and to potentially contaminate their water–or the water of anybody. And so a group of young people, with the support of elders, started a prayer camp at the Sacred Stone Camp. And this encampment has grown to be–I mean, I think the last numbers were around 2,000, but I would guess it to be around maybe 500-plus more than that. So it’s definitely grown.
We’ve definitely gotten a lot more sport support on the ground. Everyone’s camping. There are some people that choose to stay in places nearby. The camp itself is structured with each–different encampments having different roles. I mean, so there’s definitely direct action folks there. Our leaders are there in prayer and to provide spiritual guidance for us. And we have people there that are welcoming our guests, welcoming people into the territory, into the land. And all those that send donations, all the vehicles that deliver supplies are being welcomed as well, and they’re allowed platforms to share their support and to speak to the people that are there.
So, yeah, I think the word beautiful encompasses it really well.
NOOR: And so the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, it seems like they’re trying to get this finished as soon as possible as this movement grows. Talk about why you have called for a “Global Weeks of Solidarity” action, which begins September 3 and run through the 17th.
TWO BULLS: We called for the Global Weeks of Action solidarity action because this fight is a lot larger than the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. This fight is about more than just a pipeline and just stopping a pipeline, because there’s thousands of pipelines that run through this country. And we acknowledge that. We also acknowledge that there’s a dependency on oil.
And so what we’re saying is that with this energy that’s being created right now, the movement that’s being created is larger than any of that. Not only can we shut down this pipeline, but we can start addressing and changing those systems that allow for an environment that creates the demand for pipelines. And that’s what we’re saying.
And that’s why we called for the Global Weeks of Action is because we want our allies to know that when water’s contaminated, it affects all of us. It doesn’t matter your race, your background, if you’re poor, if you’re rich, black, white, yellow, purple, whatever it might be; when water is contaminated, it’s gone. That affects all of us.
And so we have to focus on those commonalities. We have to focus on that common thread that connects us all. And that is water.
And that’s why with our beliefs we say water is life. And so we need to protect it and respect it as such. And that’s why we put out the call for solidarity actions, because we feel that we’re not the only ones that are fighting this fight.
NOOR: And so another big date is next Friday, September 9. The Standing Rock Sioux have filed a preliminary injunction against the pipeline, and a ruling is expected on the ninth or around that day. That’s according to The Wall Street Journal. Can you talk about the latest with that case? And do you think that public pressure could influence the court?
TWO BULLS: So the way it’s set up right now, there is a lawsuit pending between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and, I believe, the Army Corps of Engineers. But the September 9 date is specifically referring to an injunction to stop and halt construction while that separate lawsuit is ongoing. And so the September 9 date is specifically to hear whether the judge will side with the people and stop construction, or if they will side with the corporations and allow construction to continue while a lawsuit is actually pending. And so that’s what we’re hearing back. And we’re fully confident that public opinion will have some say in this. And that’s why we launched the Weeks of Solidarity is so that we can get everyone engaged in this and we can put some pressure on the folks that are going to be making these big decisions that impact everybody.
NOOR: Well, Krystal Two Bulls, thank you so much for joining us. And we look forward to having you on again to keep us updated on this story.
TWO BULLS: For sure. Thank you for having me.
NOOR: And thank you for joining us at The Real News Network.
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