Forced to stand down at Standing Rock
- EFN Staff | February 25, 2017
Standing up for clean water is the mandate for the water protectors who are opposed to the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL) in Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The #NoDAPL protest started back in August 2016 and continues till this day. For six months, the water protectors had traumatizing experiences from dog attacks, being sprayed with cold water in freezing temperatures, being shot with rubber bullets, maced with pepper spray, and much more. This has resulted in many who now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Human and Treaty rights are continuously violated.
February 22, 2017 at the Oceti Sakowin Camp (one of many camps) was known as eviction day or as many called it The Last Stand. It was the day where all water protectors were forced to leave a place they called home. The official time of evacuation was to start at 2 o’clock that afternoon but due to weather conditions; it was hard for many water protectors to leave the camp as they became stuck in 5-10 inches of mud.
The media on the frontlines were targeted first. A Comanche journalist Eric Poemz was attacked while his phone was on Facebook Live capturing everything that happened to him. The video confirmed he was hit hard enough where Poemz repeatedly said, “my hip”. Another frontline journalist posted photos on Facebook of the law enforcements taking selfies of Poemz lying down in the muddy ground in serious pain. According to his Facebook page, Poemz is now out of custody and out of hospital walking with a walker waiting for a CT scan to see if anything is broken.
Many water protectors, including an Oglala Lakota Sioux woman elder remained in camp, while others left to other camps, were bussed to Bismarck, or patiently waited in the lobby at the Prairie Knights Casino hotel for a room to become available. That same evening a veteran/firekeeper was tasered by police in the lobby at the Prairie Knights Casino and the water protector who filmed the incident was questioned by police and the hotel security and was asked to leave the premises, along with his friend, due to accusations of allegedly smoking outside the casino. The following morning, the remaining water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp was given until 9:00 am to clear out.
“Law enforcement then entered the camp around 10:45am to begin clearing the area to create an environment conducive to clean up. All inhabitants of the camp were officially cleared at 2:09pm,” according to a public information online document from the Morton county, which is 87 miles north of Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Water protector Sam Nelson was the last one left at the Oceti Sakowin camp. Regina George is an Oglala Lakota elder and was given five minutes to finish praying before law enforcements arrested her. She also survived the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff that last 71 days. Many of those who were forced out of camp are now considered homeless and were welcomed into the Sacred Stones Camp and the Black Hoop Camp. Tawasi is one of the water protectors and he posted on social media on the 23rd, “we had a camp meeting tonight, welcoming those who had a trail of tears leaving behind Oceti and Rosebud camp.”
The Sacred Stone and the Black Hoop camps received their eviction notices on the 22nd and will be forced to leave on the 25th - putting more water protectors out of a home. According to KFYR-TV, the North Dakota news outlet says the pipeline will flowing with oil within a few weeks.
“Energy Transfer Partners says it has finished drilling under Lake Oahe and will soon be laying pipe under the Missouri River…this is one of the last steps in building the 1,200-mile pipeline that will move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.”
Updates on the two remaining camps will be released as Standing Rock’s Last Stand continues to unfold.