Standing with Standing Rock

Stand with Standing Rock is a grassroots social justice movement that began in North Dakota, United States. The movement began as activism against the Dakota Access Pipeline that was rerouted through Native American lands, in particular, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. It began as a fight to protect sacred lands and the peoples’ right to water quality - as the pipeline is routed through the tribe’s water source. The pipeline disturbs sacred sites, infringes on past treaty promises and tribal sovereignty, and is a significant danger to water supply. However, the Stand with Standing Rock has taken on larger significance as a conduit for global climate change.



Map of Standing Rock Indian Reservation. By Dl4gbe (Diskussion). Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is a Hunkpapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota Indian reservation in North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States. The Great Sioux Reservation spans across South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills and Missouri River. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands by its right to self-government as a sovereign nation, which includes taking a government-to-government stance with the states and federal government entities. [1] Having signed treaties as equals with the United States Government in 1851 and in 1868, which established the original boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation, the tribe asserts these treaty rights to remain steadfast and just as applicable today as on the day they were made.



On January 25th, 2016, Dakota Access announced in a public release statement that it had received permit approval by the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have a pipeline that spans across North Dakota to Illinois in operation by the end of 2016, transporting 470,000 barrels of oil per day. [2]. In response to this, on July 27, 2016, attorneys for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe took their first legal action to block the pipeline, filing an official complaint. The Tribe filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the federal district court in Washington, D.C.. The complaint was assigned to U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg. [3]. Since hearings can take months, if not years to process, and due to the pressure of time, the tribe filed a preliminary injunction motion to expedite the hearing[4] and on August 15, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II issued a worldwide appeal to all Native American Tribes in the U.S. and to all Indigenous Peoples of the world to Stand with Standing Rock by issuing letters of support.[5]. Today, Standing Rock has posted a list of 87 resolutions and letters from tribal governments including: the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, Rosebud Sioux, Blackfeet Nation, Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Tlingit & Haida Tribes of Alaska, Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Cherokee Nation and the Oneida Nation of New York. [6]
. As a result of this unwavering support, activists and native groups from across the country began arriving to a camp set up in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation.


Sept. 3, 2016 marks the first active protest (see: Strategies and Tactics).


On September 9 2016, U.S District Judge James Boasberg rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe vs. US. Army of Corps Engineers case and provided a ruling with no explanation for this decision. [7]. After this ruling thousands of people gathered at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ultimately, the court ruling was a catalyst for protests to occur in the form of peaceful marches and rallies all throughout United States and globally.

Vision and Mission

Vision Statement “Standing Rock Tribal Government strives to be a more effective, efficient, and visible government providing opportunities for our economy to grow through business development by educating our members, to enhance the health and wellness of the people of Standing Rock”.[8]

Mission Statement “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council is a governing body empowered by the SRST constitution committed to promoting an environment for the self sufficiency for all tribal members.[9]


Who are the Standing Rock Sioux

The people of the Great Sioux Reservation are from the nations of Dakota and Lakota which translates to friends and allies. [10]. The Dakota people live mostly on the North Dakota portion of the reservation. The Dakota people are divided into the Upper Yanktonai and Lower Yanktonai. The Upper Yanktonai are called Ihanktonwana, which is in english “Little End Village”. The Lower Yanktonai are called Hunkpatina, in english “Campers at the Horn”. The Yanktonai people were primarily river people, who did a little farming and hunting buffalo. [11]. The Lakota people live mostly on the South Dakota portion of the reservation. The Lakota Nation is the largest group of the Sioux. The Lakota people are divided into two bands; the Hunkpapa “Campers of the Horn” and Sihasapa “Blackfeet”. The Hunkpapa and Sihasapa people hunted buffalo and were horsemen. [12]

Sitting Bull (1831-1890) Tatanka Iyotake

One of the most well known Native American historical figures, Sitting Bull or Tatanka Iyotake, was from Standing Rock, the Hunkpapa band. [13]. Sitting Bull was a leader of the people and a medicine man. Sitting Bull fought the American government to keep them from buying land sacred to the Dakota and Lakota people and to keep his people from being relocated to the Sioux reservation. On December 15th, 1890 Sitting Bull was killed while he was being arrested. Sitting Bull is memorialized in two burial places, one in Fort Yates, North Dakota and the other in Mobridge, South Dakota. [14].

Treaties

Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851

The land allotted to the Great Sioux Reservation was enlarged, from the Big Horn Mountains in the West to the East side of the missouri river.[15]

Fort Laramie Treaty 1868

The United States appointed the commissioners, Lieutenant-General William T. Sherman, General William S. Harney, General Alfred H. Terry, General C. C,. Augur, J. B. Henderson, Nathaniel G. Taylor, John B. Sanborn, and Samuel F. Tappan to work on the treaty with Sioux tribe leaders.[16]. The land was further reduced from the Treaty of 1851. The land was reduced to the east side of the missouri river and to the state line of South Dakota in the west. Article 11: The United States relinquished all rights to occupy the territory set in article 2 of the treaty.[17] The hunting area of the Great Sioux Nation includes areas off the Reservation. This area is south of the Republican rivers and east to the Bighorn Mountains.[18] Article 12: No break of land would be valid unless three fourths of adult Sioux males agreed to it. [19] Article 16: The United States agreed that this land, the Reservation of the Sioux people, is unceded territory. [20]

Act of February 28th, 1877 (Starve or Settle Bill)

In 1874 General George A. Custer found gold in the Sacred Black Hills, which is in the center of the Great Sioux Reservation.[21] Sitting Bull fought this action, and the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn took place between the 7th calvary and the Lakota nation. The Sioux nation won the battle, and moved around before the Government ordered them to return to the reservation. [22] The Sacred Black hills were removed from the Great Sioux Reservation in the agreement of 1877. This violated Article 12 of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the agreement of three fourths Sioux males did not take place. [23]

Act of March 2nd, 1889 the Dawes Act and the Allotment Act

In 1889 Congress once again reduced the land of the Great Sioux Reservation. The land was divided into six separate reservations 160 acre lots. These reservation boundaries, as set in section 3 of the March 2nd 1889 act, are still the same today. [24] Under this act the Reservation now became open for non Sioux to settle.[25]

Tribal Council of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

On April 24th 1959 the constitution of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was approved by the Tribal Council. The Tribal council is made up of a Chairman, Vice- Chairman, a Secretary and fourteen Councilmen. The Councilmen are elected by the members of the tribe. As a sovereign nation, the Standing Rock Sioux people have the right to self-govern. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are equals the the United States government, due to the treaties that were signed in 1851 and 1868. [26] The Standing Rock Sioux people should maintain command of all the land and anything within it including waterways. [27]. The land of the Great Sioux Reservation was never surrendered in any way to the government.

Land

On April 29th, 1868 in article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation were created. The boundaries are the 46th parallel of the north latitude then to the east bank of Missouri river, south of the nebraska line and west of the 104th parallel. Most of South Dakota is apart of the Great Sioux [28]. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is the fifth largest in the United States, covering 2.3 million acres. It is named standing rock due to the rock formation that appears to resemble a women with a child on her back.[29].

Sacred Space

Sacred spaces are areas that are set aside from human presence. This could be a burial space or dwelling space. The people of the Sioux nation believe that supernatural beings exist in the same space that humans do. These supernatural beings could be invisible or visible. If the supernatural beings are invisible, they are still known to be there. Tribe members can go to the sacred space in order to perceive the divine but, they cannot go into the sacred space, because it will disrupt the lives of the deity. The activity of humans, changing physical landscapes of the sacred space, is considered sacrilegious. To the Lakota people, including leader Dave Archambault Jr., the construction area for the Dakota pipeline is a sacred space and a burial site. [30]

Route of Dakota Access Pipeline. By NittyG. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dakota Access, LLC (commonly referred to as “DAPL” or “Dakota Access”) is a company of Energy Transfer Partners is proposing project to transport American crude oil from the Bakken/Three Forks formation is North Dakota to markets and refiners located in the Midwest, East Coast and Gulf Coast regions in the United States. [31]The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline is designated to connect the oil-rich Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. [32]The pipeline tansport approximately 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day with the highest capacity of 570,000 barrels per day or more.[33] The project was originally scheduled to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2016 according to daolpipelinefacts.com, but the projected has had to postponed due to controversies it has had regarding the environmental risks and violations of the landowner’s rights. The oil potential in Bakken is massive. An estimated 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered oil is believed to be in its US portion, according to the US Geological Survey. Energy Access Partners argue that after completion of the project with the transport of 470.000 barrels of crude oil is enough to make 374.3 million gallons of gasoline per day. said. The U.S. is the third largest producer of crude oil and its the number one customer in the world.[34]

Pro Pipeline Arguments 1. Pipeline would decrease reliance of the U.S to the foreign oil and leads to economic independence.[35] 2. The developers argue that the pipeline is actually a safer way of moving crude oil compared to rail or trucks and ships. 3. Energy Transfer Partners estimates the pipeline would bring an estimated $156 million in sales and income taxes to state and local governments. The developer also says it will add 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs. [36]

Anti Pipeline Arguments 1. Construction of the pipeline will, destroy the aboriginal people’s burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. [37] 2. Promotes dependence on fuel-dependent energy which is responsible for climate change rather than encouraging renewable energy. 3. Most importantly, the opponent worry that the pipeline which undergoes the Missouri river, ruptured and contaminate the water supplies of the local area. [38]

The Black Snake Prophecy

The standing rock movement is very significant in that it brings different tribes of all Indians together and unites them towards a single goal. This is while these tribes have been in conflict for years. For these landowners it’s more than their property rights, it represents the roots of their identities. There is an old Lakota prophecy of a black snake, a creature that would rise from the deep, bringing with it great sorrow and great destruction. For many years, the Lakota people have wondered what the prophecy meant and when it would come to pass (yesmagazine) When the heard about the pipeline, suddenly the warning of their ancestors made sense. [39]

Organization and Structure =

Camp Organization

The Dakota Access Pipeline Protests initially started out as a grassroots movement, comprised of the Standing Rock Sioux. In the spring of early April, Sioux elder, LaDonna Bravebull Allard organized the Sacred Stone prayer camp located along the banks of the Cannonball River and Missouri River. ([40]Allard, the Standing Rock’s Historic Preservation Officer announced the camp was a place of spiritual and cultural resistance against the U.S. government.[41] LaDonna denounced the U.S. government and their continuous actions to destroy the indigenous footprint in the world. [42]


In the spring and early summer of 2016, Allard along with other Standing Rock Sioux leaders reached out to neighboring tribes and domestic media for attention and aid. Hundreds of people responded to their requests; what started out as a influx of supporters, hastily increased into thousands,[43]quickly overcrowding the Sacred Stone Prayer Camp. The overflow stemmed the creation of the Oceti Sakowin and Red Warrior Camps on the other side of the Cannonball river.[44]

On October 24th, over 200 protesters and tribal members set up a larger winter camp directly on the path of where the oil pipeline would be constructed,[45] which is also the property of Energy Transfer Partners. In response to the creation of the new camp, over 127 arrests were made,[46] and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department announced they were bringing in more deputies from other states to assist in controlling the protest.[47]


Panels of native speakers have assembled before protestors to discuss the issues concerning the Standing Rock Sioux,[48] however no Sioux peoples have claimed the authority of leading the indigenous efforts to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline. Even so, LaDonna Bravebull Allard’s number has been listed on various indigenous network sites as a source to call at the time of a protester’s arrest.[49] Listed on that same list is Dallas Goldtooth, a Native American environmental activist who served as executive director of the Indigenous Environment Network[50]; Tara Houska, of the Couchiching First Nation, and Native American advisor to Bernie Sanders’ campaign,[51] and finally Cody Hall of the Cheyenne River Sioux, an organizer and activist of the NoDAPL movement who was arrested on September 3rd. [52]

Economic Organization

The Dakota Access Line Protest is not funded by any governmental organizations or major corporations. Resources and amenities have been supplied by supporters of the movement and protesters themselves.[53] The Sacred Stone Prayer Camp has launched an official GoFundMe which they have stated in the description will go toward blankets, food, water, etc. The Standing Rock Sioux were soliciting donations from supporters through a paypal account for bail of protestors and emergency services. A legal defense fund was also created by protesters to fund the legal bills and ramifications of the demonstrations.[54]

The 3.4 billion dollar Dakota Pipeline Project was made public to the immediate dissent of landowners, conservatives and First Nation’s Tribes[55]; while informational and landowner meetings took place from January 2015 to August 2015, farmers, conservatives, and tribes remained unconvinced of the necessity of the pipeline or its environmental purpose.[56] The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has actively opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2014 when the project was first proposed and have engaged with policy-makers and federal agencies to discuss the negative environmental and cultural outcomes that would occur from the Dakota Access Pipeline.[57] On July 27 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the US. Army of Corps Engineers for an injunction is on the basis that they failed to adequately survey the cultural and environmental impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline. [58]

The first North Dakota Pipeline Protest is reported to have erupted early Friday on April 1, 2016 in response to he 3.4 billion dollar Dakota Pipeline Project.[59] Hundreds of tribal members from several Native American Nations took to horseback to protest against the construction of the oil pipeline.[60]


For months following, peaceful acts of civil disobedience were carried out against the Dakota Pipeline project, with no major news national outlets reporting the demonstration. Small online networks picked up the story but provided no substantial coverage. The protests finally gained traction in August, as 2016 presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein voiced their opposition against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Senator Sanders released a statement on his website condemning the “dangerous pipeline” and announced his solidarity with the Standing Sioux tribes.[61]

With his public denouncement of the project, thousands of Sanders’ supporters took to social media protesting against the pipeline. Jill Stein, presidential nominee for the Green Party in the United States, voiced her allyship with DAPL protestors and appeared on site in North Dakota amidst hundreds of other protesters to partake in civil disobedience.[62]

In August 2016, youth of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation formed a group called ReZpect Our Water. [63]The objective of ReZpect Our Water was to collect signatures opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline and run from North Dakota to Washington DC to deliver the petition to the president.[64]The youth held several rallies in major cities such as New York City along their journey to Whitehouse. [65] Eventually a social media explosion occurred as activists, protesters, and supporters trended the hashtags “NoDAPL,” “Water is Life,” and “Standing Rock” on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. S[66]A viral Facebook reported that law enforcement officers were actively using Facebook’s geo-tag to seek out and arrest protesters, although unconfirmed and suggested to be a hoax by many journalists[67], hundreds and thousands of Facebook users checked in at Standing Rock in North Dakota to show their solidarity and support.

However, national coverage was gained after photos and footage released by journalists and protesters on site displayed armed military guards equipped with water cannons sitting atop armored tanks advancing towards protesters on horses. [68]Amy Goodman, an American broadcast journalist for Democracy Now! was arrested for filming footage of security officers working for the pipeline project using pepper spray and dogs on protesters.[69] As tensions became more and more strained, violence broke out at Standing Rock[70]; according to Standing Rock officials, on September 3rd, construction crews destroyed American Indian ritual and burial sites on private land in Southern Dakota.[71] As reported by several news outlets, dozens of protesters were pepper sprayed and six people were bitten by dogs. [72]Mass public outrage broke out as allies and news media reported the actions as police brutality and an unnecessary show of force.

On September 9 2016, U.S District Judge James Boasberg rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe vs. US. Army of Corps Engineers case and provided a ruling with no explanation for this decision.[73]After this ruling thousands of people gathered at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline.[74]Ultimately, the court ruling was a catalyst for protests to occur in the form of peaceful marches and rallies all throughout United States and globally.

Elder addressing crowd at Dakota Access Pipeline protest. By Shane Balkowitsch. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native American Nations Involved

The NoDAPL protest is one of the largest consolidated American Indian protests in the last hundred years. On August 24th, in a call to action update, Steve Sitting Bear, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s External Director said that more than 87 tribal nations have taken action in support of his tribe’s resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline.[75]On October 28th, Chief Avrol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes claimed over 300 flags of indigenous nations including other countries have been raised in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.[76]


Several North Dakotan tribes have passed measures in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. [77]North American First Nations peoples have pledged their allegiance to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe including the National Congress of American Indians.[78]


A growing number of Oklahoman tribes have expressed their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation; tribes ranging from the Cherokee Nation to the Eastern Shawnee Nation, to the Oklahoma Ottawa Nation, and Quapaw Tribe have vowed to protect the land and water rights of indigenous peoples everywhere.[79] In August the current principal chief of the Cherokee Nation vocalized his support for the movement, resolving to fight for the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux peoples. Members of the Eastern Shawnee tribe passed a resolution on August 24th in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe released in a statement it was “...to protect the public health and welfare of the Standing Rock Reservation.”[80]


On September 16th, hundreds of protesters, many of First Nation’s descent took to the streets in Seattle to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and show their support with the Standing Rock Sioux.[81]The protest began with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signing a resolution expressing his explicit support and encouragement with the Sioux on behalf of the city’s council and residents. In attendance were members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Quinualt, Lummi, Tulalip, Swinomush, and Puyallup. [82]Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinualt Indian nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians sounded a call to action stating “We stand for environmental justice and we will not stop.”[83]


The Grand Folks Herald reported on October 13th, the municipal governments of 19 cities, including Seattle, St. Louis and Minneapolis, passed statutes supporting the Standing Rock Sioux in their resistance to the pipeline.[84]


On October 9th, the Morton County Sheriff’s office requested more law enforcement from neighboring states to aid with crowd control at protest sites and it’s rising neighbors. [85]The Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin responded, sending over ten deputies, however they were recalled a few days later due to opposition from Dane County residents and officials.[86] Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations released a public statement addressing President Barack Obama and his failure to keep his word in his promises to the First Nations People of the United States of America.[87] In his statement, Chief Arvol Looking Horse reminded President Obama that during the time of his presidential campaign he committed himself to the treaty documents signed by the United States and First Nations. Avrol implored President Obama to keep his word and answer the pleas of the Sioux Tribe and their supporters.[88]President Obama has not responded to Chief Arvol Looking Horse.


First Nations in New Zealand and Australia have pledged their support to NoDAPL protesters, citing the struggles of the Standing Rock Sioux are ones that resonate deeply with the indigenous tribes. [89]Members of New Zealand’s Maori Tribe and indigenous Australians took to social media, displaying their support of the protesters and even checking in on Facebook. [90]

Allies

In August and early September of 2016, more and more prominent celebrities and politicians began aligning themselves with the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. Bernie Sanders, an American politician who campaigned for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee gave a speech to 3000 Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Members, supporters and protesters demonstrating outside of the White House castigating the Dakota Access Pipeline.[91] Sanders vowed to stand in the fight against the “dangerous” pipeline and later released a website on his website confirming his allyship against DAPL.[92]


The Green Party’s presidential nominee, Jill Stein appeared onsite at Standing Rock protesting with demonstrators and spray painted “I approve this message” on a construction bulldozer.[93] The Morton County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota filed charges against the presidential candidate on the claims of vandalizing and destroying equipment. Her running mate Ajamu Baraka has also been charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief.[94] Neither Stein nor Baraka have disputed the claims or responded to them in any way.


In August 2016, actors Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Chris Rock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shailene Woodley tweeted their support against DAPL and their unity with Standing Rock Protesters. [95]


On September 2nd, a caravan from California with members from the Palestinian Youth-USA movement set out to Cannonball, North Dakota in support of the Standing Rock Sioux.[96]

The Palestinian Youth released in a public statement they were “fighting for the present and the future of indigenous peoples and against the historical supremacies of erasure, the active legacy of settler-colonialism, and the viciousness of greed.”[97]

In October 2016, actress Shailene Woodley was arrested by law enforcement officers, the footage was streamed live on Facebook to over 40,000 viewers. [98] Known for her role in The Fault in Our Stars and The Divergent Series, she had actively been voicing her opposition against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Woodley has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, both are misdemeanours; she will stand trial in February. [99]

International Protests

In cities all across North America crowds are gathering to show their support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.[100] The list of protests that have occurred is insurmountable to compile. Just this week demonstrations within Canada have occurred in Hamilton Ontario and Halifax, Nova Scotia.[101][102]

A profound notion of these protests it that they have been able to not only draw indigenous tribes together, but also unify their support of this issue. This can be seen in the Maori, the native people of New Zealand who have shown their support by dedicating haka dances to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. [103] International solidarity has also been illustrated in the thousands of people around the world checking in on Facebook at Standing Rock. Allegedly, this mass check-in was organized to prevent local law enforcement from tracking protestors at Standing Rock Indian Reservation on social media. [104] In addition, there has been a global phenomenon of trending hashtags that are illustrating solidarity against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

There have been high profile arrests and celebrity support that have gained media traction and have drawn attention towards efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Journalist Amy Goodman was charged with criminal trespassing and actress Shailene Woodly was also charged with criminal trespassing as well as for engaging in a criminal riot. [105] Numerous celebrities have declared their opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their social media accounts. Most recently, musician Neil Young spent his birthday at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and performed for the protestors. [106]

People from around the world have rallied together to support Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on their territory. Many indigenous groups from Canada have ventured to North Dakota to show their solidarity and provide materials necessary for camping protesters to withstand the cold winter.[107] In addition, Mayans from Guatemala ventured to Standing Rock Indian Reservation to show their support, share their own struggles and provide encouragement to member of the Sioux Tribe. [108]Moreover, over 500 religious leaders representing 20 different religions gathered and rallied at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. [109]Not only did they provide food to the protesters they also joined a praying circle as well as performed ceremonial acts to demonstrate their support of Native American rights.[110] At the camping grounds flags have been raised by protestors to represent the nations the have travelled from. Signs have also been hung and are including messages of support. Most recently, a sign declared “From Palestine to Standing Rock we are united” which highlights global solidarity for this social movement. [111]


The Dakota Access Line Protests initially did not use social media activism to launch their campaign.[112]On April 1, 2016 over 200 Standing Sioux members on horseback initiated the first protest against construction of the pipeline beginning at the Tribal Administration Building in Cannonball, North Dakota towards the edge of the Standing Rock Reservation.[113]After the initial weeks of the protest, Sioux members and elders reached out on social media and to other indigenous tribes requesting support.[114]

Internet and Social Media

Social media and the internet are a quick and efficient way to spread information to millions of users in an instant, NoDAPL activists utilized this tool by trending on Facebook and Twitter #NoDAPL and #WaterIsLife[115]; users could simply search the tag and find news articles regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux. More than one million Facebook users[116] checked into Cannonball or Standing Rock, North Dakota as a means of showing solidarity and spreading awareness.[117]

Politicians and Celebrities

Notable celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Hemsworth explicitly displaying their support to millions of fans was a large way the movement was spread.[118] Actors and politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders who garnered a large following and media attention explicitly praised Native American efforts against the pipeline and wrote an open letter to President Obama propelled action against the pipeline.[119] They used their platforms to spread awareness of the protests.

Direct Action

A Lakota man locks himself to construction equipment in protest. By Desiree Kane. CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

NoDAPL protesters initially engaged in forming human blockades at the site of construction for the pipelines.[120] They have set up camps alongside the Cannonball and Missouri River, blocking the movements of law enforcement officers and Energy Transfers personnel.[121] Protesters also formed blockades of logs and hay bales,[122] and burned tires to prevent armed officers and the National Guard from encroaching on their land.[123] American Indian tribes across the country have engaged in rallies, building power and momentum in their cities to incite opposition of the pipeline.[124][125][126]

A major success of the Standing Rock Protests is that it has become the largest unity of indigenous peoples in over a century![127] This is significant, as those might not be aware that indigenous groups tend to have generations of conflicts with one another. In addition, it is profound that this grass root movement has been able to capture the media’s presence to share its presence. Another achievement is the large social media following it has been able to generate and how it has been able to constantly trend throughout multiple platforms.

Whereas, a shortfall of this social movement can be viewed upon the lack of active protesting in regards to how social media have allowed people to engage in merely ‘hashtag activism’. UBC professor Sarah Hunt comments on how social media has allowed impressive displays of solidarity, it does not mean that people are truly engaged in this matters or that they will continue to demonstrate their support in the future.[128]

Another criticism is that there has been alleged unnecessary harsh treatment of protestors. On September 3 2016 security form the Dakota Access Pipeline used pepper stay and had police dogs attack protesters.[129]At least 6 protesters were treated for dog bites and 30 people were sprayed.[130]These protesters state that they were doing nothing wrong and were antagonized by the company’s security.[131] Additionally, numerous protestors have been arrested for minor misdemeanors where they claim that the have been treated with unnecessary harsh treatment. For example, there have been several accounts of protestors that have had to been unnecessarily stripped searched following their arrest. [132]

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source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Open_Case_Studies/GRSJ306/_Stand_With_Standing_Rock

Post image: Stand with Standing Rock Washington, licensed GFDL 1.2 on Wikimedia Commons