So, I guess this is somewhat controversial because of the pipeline itself, so I'll put this thread here instead of in the Commons.
An interesting historical phenomenon is happening in North Dakota right now. Indigenous nations from all around the Americas are gathering in Standing Rock to protest the construction of a new oil pipeline. There are numerous reasons for this. The Dakotas have seen a sharp increase in small-scale spills ever since oil production there really ramped up -- impacting non-Native farmers and Native tribes alike. Land quality has decreased. The new pipeline also crosses the Missouri river, which supplies water to pretty much the entire midwest (and especially to the Standing Rock reservation). While the new pipeline is hardly the only oil source moving over the river, the danger of a major spill increases with each new project that crosses over the water.
Right now, we're seeing independent Native nations come together like never before. The alliances being formed at this protest are wider in scope than any of the historical confederacies that were in place before US expansion into native territory. They are assembling at a tribal encampment named Sacred Stone. It's a mix of modern tents and tipis. Volunteers cook for the entire camp, tutors teach any kids who have come along to participate in the historic union, there a huge assembly of flags representing each tribe present, etc.
- The Great Sioux Nation (one of the largest old Native confederacies) has effectively reformed for the first time since the Battle of Little Bighorn. This is a big deal because the US government deliberately broke the Great Sioux Nation apart by splitting up its tribes and sending various bands to separate corners of the Dakotas.
- Other Plains nations, even the ones who used to be rivals of the Sioux, have also joined in. The Assiniboine, the Crow, the Blackfoot, etc.
- People from Plains nations have brought in horses and are riding them in the traditional way. Including the "introduction" between combatants, where they charge but don't touch the opposition -- which, needless to say, scared ND police officers. It's kind of like their version of the Maori haka.
- Members of the Iroquois Confederacy have arrived from out east.
- Descendants of the Triple Alliance ("Aztecs") have come up from Central America.
- Canadian First Nations are also taking part -- either from official support or from individuals who have joined the camp.
- The various Coast Salish nations (from the Pacific Northwest) have sent a delegation to Standing Rock. The Lummi carved an elaborate totem pole which has been set up at the camp -- which is a big symbol of generosity, 'cause that's a huge project. The Swinomish (the tribe that neighbors my town) sent a legal team to Washington D.C.
- Salish nations have also dispatched "the fleet." Traditional Salish canoes were transported to the Missouri river, where they paddled into the camp and, as old custom dictated, asked for permission to come ashore. The canoes are now on standby.
- A Swinomish/Tulalip photographer has been taking photographs and video of the entire ordeal in an effort to show how things are on the ground.
- Interior tribes from WA, like the Yakama and Nez Perce, are also in attendance.
- The Cherokee Nation has been sending bulk supplies to the camp (water, food, etc.).
- There are either participants or support coming from roughly half of the 500+ tribes in the United States, and more from abroad. More nations are joining every day.
Meanwhile, North Dakota's state government is continuing to crack down on protesters. The oil industry is big in North Dakota, so that's to be expected. They cut off water to the camp area, keep shutting down internet availability to limit communications, and have now mobilized the National Guard. "Private security" working on behalf of the pipeline benefactors also used half-trained dogs to "deter" protesters, which resulted in numerous people getting bit. The dogs even turned on their own "handlers." One handler was seen beating her dog to incite it to attack. Another released his dog so he could personally get into a scuffle with a protester. The unrestrained dog then ran out and attacked a horse.
It's getting interesting. I'm hoping it doesn't end up being another Wounded Knee '73 incident. Then, the Oglala Sioux seized the sacred site of Wounded Knee after they failed to peacefully remove a highly corrupt government -- it resulted in live fire between activists and police, a few deaths, and ensured that Native Americans aren't allowed to horde guns like upstanding white people are. You get put on a watch list to this day.
So far, the protesters aren't really violent unless it's self-defense, though there's "mischief" like spray painting bulldozers and removing fences and people chaining themselves up to equipment.