[News] The Beginning is Near: The Deep North, Evictions and Pipeline Deadlines

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 1 13:47:01 EST 2016


  The Beginning is Near: The Deep North, Evictions and Pipeline Deadlines

Winona LaDuke - Nov 30, 2016

Standing Rock is an unpredicted history lesson for all of us. More than 
any moment I recall since Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, or the time of 
Martin Luther King, this moment stands as a crossroads in the battle for 
social justice. It is also an economic issue, in a time of economic 
system transformation, and profoundly a question of the future of this 
land. /The world is watching.
As the US Army Corps of Engineers issues a December 5 eviction notice 
for thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Missouri River, we 
face our truth. Those people at the Oceti Sakowin and Red Warrior Camps, 
along with the 550 people who have been arrested so far, are really the 
only thing standing between a river and a corporation that wants to 
pollute it. That we know, because absent any legal protections, and with 
a regulatory system hijacked by oil interests and a federal government 
in crisis, the people and the river remain the only clear and sentient 

In short, this is a moment of extreme corporate rights and extreme 
racism confronted by courage, prayers, and resolve. This moment has been 
coming. The violence and the economics of a failing industry will indeed 
unravel, and this is the beginning.

*The Deep North*

North Dakota did not become Alabama – or the Deep North, as it is now 
called – overnight. Native people in North Dakota have been treated 
poorly for more than a hundred years, whether by the damming of the 
Missouri and the flooding of millions of acres of tribal land, or by 
poverty and incarceration, North Dakota is a place of systemic and 
entrenched racism. Two of the poorest counties in the country are on 
Standing Rock, Native people comprise almost a fourth of the people in 
prison, Native suicide rates are ten times that of North Dakotans, 
infrastructure (like the fifty year old hospital with four doctors for 
8000 people, and a now blocked Highway l806, without a shoulder) is at 
an all time low, and people freeze to death and overdose in the shadow 
of the Bakken Oil fields. That’s the first layer of abuse, aside from 
the day to day racism, emboldened by Morton County and the incoming 
Trump government. It is visible for the world to see now.

For many who come, North Dakota is something unknown. Americans fly over 
the state, talk about how the movie Fargo was funny, and wonder 
sheepishly about how it’s working out in the Bakken. Very few visit, and 
there is almost no civil society to advocate for the environment or the 
people. Let me put it this way, until this year, the Sierra Club had one 
staff person in North Dakota, and the American Civil Liberties Union had 
one staff member covering both North and South Dakota. It is as if North 
Dakota is just too uncomfortable for a progressive movement to visit or 
work in. Instead, we have watched.

After all, the sex trafficking, violence, and corruption has overwhelmed 
most of the state’s capacity to address it, and a recent study by the 
National Academy of Sciences found widespread groundwater contamination 
in the fracking fields. For North Dakotans it has become just how it 
is/… /That is to say:/accommodating corporations is the North Dakota 
way./ This last year, North Dakota health officials excused more oil 
spills without penalty, and increased the allowable levels of radiation 
in municipal and county dumps to accommodate the fracking industry. The 
corporations direct state policy.

It’s been easy to put it out of mind because after all, it seems so far 
away when we view the world from our television or smartphone. In the 
midst of this, we find ourselves facing a larger set of forces. As of 
November 18, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department inventoried their 
troops at 1,287 deputies, including police from 25 North Dakota 
counties, 20 North Dakota cities, and 9 states (Indiana, Louisiana, 
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and 
Wyoming). Over 550 people have been arrested, many of them strip 
searched and cavity searched for misdemeanor charges, and a number of 
them held overnight in dog kennels. Now the state has fired on unarmed 
people who want to protect the water from contamination. /After all, 
that’s what this is about./

To serve the convenience of a deadline for Energy Transfer Partners’s 
corporate profits, the police have fired teargas canisters, water hoses, 
concussion grenades, rubber bullets, tasers, and bean bag rounds at 
unarmed people trying to protect their water supply. Most of them are 
Native, and the North Dakota media has continued to portray the water 
protectors as outlaws.

When 21 year old New York resident Sophia Wilansky’s arm was blown off 
by a concussion grenade, Morton County Sheriff Kirchenmeir suggested 
that the water protectors caused it. A statement of her father, attorney 
Wayne Wilansky, differs: “At around 4:30am after the police hit the 
bridge with water cannons and rubber bullets and pepper spray, they 
lobbed a number of concussion grenades which are not supposed to be 
thrown at people directly, at protesters or protectors as they want to 
be called. A grenade exploded right as it hit Sophia in the left forearm 
taking most of the undersurface of her left arm with it. Both her radial 
and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and 
a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large 
section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and 
wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident - it was 
an intentional act of throwing it directly at her. Additionally police 
were shooting people in the face and groin, intending to do the most 
possible damage…”

*January 1 Energy Transfer Deadline*

On January 1, the Dakota Access Pipeline may turn into a pumpkin. This 
is to say, that the Dakota Access Pipeline was proposed in 2014, when 
the Bakken was at a peak. The Bakken is presently producing 900,000 
barrels a day of oil, and steadily declining. All of that oil is already 
being refined locally, or shipped out by train or pipeline. The state of 
North Dakota has announced that they project to have the same 900,000 
barrels of oil a day coming out of the Bakken in 2019, two years from 
now, and even that may be optimistic. In other words, there’s already 
plenty of infrastructure to move all the oil from North Dakota; this 
pipeline is not needed. We call it the Dakota Excess Pipeline.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis with Sightline 
Institute just released a new report on the shaky finances of the Dakota 
Access Pipeline. The report, “The High-Risk Financing Behind the Dakota 
Access Pipeline: A Stranded Asset in the Making in the Bakken Region of 
North Dakota,” delves into “the project’s financial weaknesses, and the 
fact the pipeline may represent a substantial overbuilding of the 
Bakken’s oil-transport infrastructure.” The report notes that the 
pipeline’s principal backer, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), has 
conceded in court proceedings that it is contractually obligated to 
complete the project by January 1. ETP will most likely miss this 
deadline, if for no other reason than lack of clearance. The company 
recently informed investors that it would take from 90 to 120 days to 
complete the pipeline /after/ it receives an easement from the Army 
Corps of Engineers to cross the Missouri River. The Corps has yet to 
give that permission and last week recommended further study on the 

If the deadline is missed, companies that have committed long-term to 
ship oil through the pipeline at 2014 prices will have the right to 
rescind those commitments. “In the interest of protecting their 
investors and shareholders, these companies may well renegotiate terms, 
seeking concessions on contracted volumes, prices, or contract duration.

The impetus for striking new deals on Dakota Access Pipeline contracts 
is rooted in radical changes in the broader economic context in which 
the project was proposed in 2014 and in which the majority of the 
contracts were signed. Global oil prices began to collapse just a few 
months after shippers committed to using DAPL, and consensus market 
forecasts see no recovery for at least a decade….”

In short, greed is expensive, and if Energy Transfer Partners does not 
meet that deadline, many prudent shippers may want to renegotiate or 
withdraw their contracts/. In other words, the pipeline could become a 
pumpkin, in the terms of Cinderella, and there are a lot of people who 
would not be sorry about that. /

So, let’s be honest, all of the aggression is to see if North Dakota can 
make sure that Energy Transfer Partners can make a deadline and not lose 
money and continue to bilk potential shippers.

*Evicting Native People*

On the day after Thanksgiving, the Army Corps of Engineers issued an 
eviction notice to the thousands of people camped on the banks of the 
river. Creating the legal fiction of a “free speech zone”, in no 
relationship to anything significant. District Commander John W. 
Henderson sent an email to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stating that on 
December 5, the Oceti Sakowin camp would need to evacuate Army Corps 
land. The letter claims that evacuation “is necessary to protect the 
general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and 
law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to 
prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments 
due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions. The necessary 
emergency, medical, and fire response services, law enforcement, or 
sustainable facilities to protect people from these conditions on this 
property cannot be provided.” At no point did the Army Corps point out 
that Highway 1806 was closed by Morton County and that all the sustained 
injuries were from Morton County.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault responded to the Army 
Corps: “Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United 
States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. The 
best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of 
conflict between water protectors and militarized police, is to deny the 
easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now. We ask that everyone 
who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to 
consider the future of our people and rescind all permits, and deny the 
easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and 
straight through our treaty lands. When the Dakota Access Pipeline chose 
this route, they did not consider our strong opposition. Our concerns 
were clearly articulated directly to them in a tribal council meeting 
held on Sept. 30, 2014, where DAPL and the ND Public Service Commission 
came to us with this route. We have released the audio recording from 
that meeting.”

The fact is that the Dakota Access Pipeline is not complete because of 
the people camped on that land- whether in the Oceti Sakowin, Sacred 
Stone, or Red Warrior Camps. The arrests of 550 people have been at a 
high cost to people, but also at a high cost to Energy Transfer 
Partners, because they are unlikely to meet their deadline.

None of us know how this moment in history is going to work out. On 
December 4, thousands of military veterans are coming to support the 
people and the river – veterans of Iraq, Vietnam, and every war in 
between. I am interested how the Army Corps will speak with the 
veterans. The veterans join the thousands of elected officials, 
religious and cultural leaders who have come to stand with the river and 
the people. In the end, that’s what will remain, long after Energy 
Transfer is bankrupt and the state of North Dakota has come to 
reckoning. The river will remain.

I am reminded of a quote originating from Thunder Valley. /“ How long 
are you going to let others determine the future for your children? Are 
we not warriors? When our ancestors went to battle they did not know 
what the consequences would be, all they knew is that, without action, 
things would not go well for their children . Don’t operate out of a 
place of fear, operate from hope. With hope everything is possible. The 
time is now. “/

*That is this time.*

/LINK to VIDEO STACK by date and events at Standing Rock/ 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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