Last November, over 1,000 US veterans supported Standing Rock Sioux tribe members, putting their bodies on the line as human shields.
They came to back their resistance against completion of the environmentally destructive Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), endangering sacred ancestral land, water and wildlife habitat.
Native American Samoan Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D. Hawaii) was there. In September, she and 18 other House Democrats addressed Obama in a joint statement, saying in part:
“The federal government has a moral and legal trust responsibility to ensure that federally permitted projects do not threaten historically or culturally significant tribal places, the trust lands of tribal nations, or the waters that run through them.”
“In the instance of the DAPL, despite its location within a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the USACE (Army Corps of Engineers) failed in its responsibility to engage in meaningful consultation and collaboration with potentially impacted tribal nations.”
Days earlier, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock (VSSR) spokesman Anthony Diggs said, “[W]e are committed to the people of Standing Rock. We are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected.”
“That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” Diggs said he expects to have “a larger, solid boots-on-the-ground presence” in Standing Rock this time.
According to Catawba Nation Linda Black Elk, “A lot of water protectors really felt that we needed to make some sort of stand as far as treaty rights.”
“We basically started to see police mobilizing from all directions. Someone came along and told us we had about 15 minutes before the camp would get raided.”
Dozens of arrests followed—on the phony pretext of trespassing on private property. According to an 1851 treaty, it’s Sioux land. On their web site, Standing Rock Sioux tribe members said, “[I]n honor of our future generations, we fight this pipeline to protect our water, our sacred placed, and all living beings.”
The struggle for justice continues. Veterans arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, others en route, again intending to serve as human shields for Sioux tribe members and supporters against the power of National Guard forces and militarized police.
One veteran likely spoke for others, saying, “[W]e are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force. We’ve stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have.”
On Friday, veterans set up a camp at Sacred Stone, a base to serve as protectors, not fighters, according to a Marine Corps veteran.
Last fall, militarized police attacked water protectors with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, water cannons, pepper spray and other forms of mistreatment. Hundreds of arrests were made.
More of the same is likely this time. Last December, Cuban doctors came to Standing Rock to stand with water protectors, to treat emergency and chronic health conditions.
Vietnam veteran Dan Luker came to Standing Rock last year. He’s back, saying, “[T]his is the right war. Finally, it’s the US military coming on to Sioux land to help for the first time in history, instead of coming” to slaughter Native Americans.
Sioux Tribe members call their resistance a “battle for survival.” On March 10, they and supporters plan a march in Washington for justice. They hope thousands will participate.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog at sjlendman.blogspot.com . Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.