Let’s start at the very beginning when I first came to Standing Rock to give you an idea of my first experience as I was called to help assist Standing Rock with the Missouri River.
In 1993, I had the honor to come to Standing Rock helping in the use of the Missouri River. Federal agencies were also present along with North and South Dakota state agencies. The purpose of this meeting was to obtain use of the Missouri River for obtaining fishing permits and boat fees. Which wasn’t going to make Standing Rock rich in anyway. The meeting had started with various federal agencies present, Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Park Service and state agencies. Army Corps director gave the opening remarks which are still burn into my head as I’ve never heard a federal director speak in this manner. His words, “I am the Director of the Army Corps of Engineers.” “I don’t know why we’re gather here but we’re the Army Corp’s and we don’t have to do a damn thing or work with the Standing Rock tribe.” “The polices which Washington has establish is there in Washington.” “We don’t have to do a damn thing as those polices can stay in Washington.” “We are out here in the field.” “We don’t have to do a damn thing in the consultation process with the damn Indians as far as we’re concern as we’re the Army Corp of Engineers.”
I sat back with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and told her. “Did, I just hear what I think I heard?” She stated, “Yes, this is what we have to work with.” The other federal agencies were just the same in remarks but not as bold as Army Corps Director.
Mine you these directors spoke of their accomplishment on film. I had written down their accomplishment however these accomplishments violated federal laws and status. Long story short, I pointed out the federal violations and jail terms to each director. Suddenly one of the directors said, “What do the damn Indian want?” I told them Standing Rock just want to manage the Missouri River from reservation boundary to reservation boundary is all. One of the directors said, “We need the federal directors to sign this agreement. What? Are we looking at another federal charged of impersonating a federal official? Technically they should be managing the whole Missouri River as this was their territorial grounds. After much discussion a MOU/MOA was signed between the federal directors giving the Standing Rock tribe authority to manage the Missouri River from reservation boundary to reservations boundary. Interesting enough if you can believe this. We have all the federal agencies directors at the meeting.
Today, these same sentiments still how true of the Army Corps of Engineers as I believe their attitudes are stuck in the mode of the 1800’s in the Great Indian War’s against the native people of Standing Rock with a new and bold director once again showing racist tendencies toward Native people with without following the due process in the consultation with the Standing Rock tribe and the many native tribes who travel or traverse along the Missouri River. The consultation process is clear cut polices among many federal agencies as these polices are set in store to consult with native people of the land to insure our cultural ways are not dismissed and our archaeological sites such as burial of ancestors is protect, along with our sacred sites such as star grazing sites, native villages, and places of worship which are still used today by many native tribes.
Which brings us to the Dakota Access is a 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the Bakken areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois passing just north of the Standing Rock Indian reservation. Now bear in mind. This proposed pipeline in the beginning was slated to travel just north of Bismarck, North Dakota. However, the government officials denied this route as it may destroy their drinking water. In the statement from Dakota Access in regards to the review of this route. In not so healthy terms the native people were expendable. Yes this is what was said, translated the native people were expendable.
Upon hearing and reading this report from Dakota Access and trying to reason with Dakota Access and the US Corps of Engineers this was useless as all legal means were attempted to reason with the US states government to deny this route for the protection of the Standing Rock tribe water supply. Should the water become tainted with damaging oil from the Bakken area as this is one of the dirtiest of oils on the planet as this oil will travel to Illinois for cleaning and then transported to China.
A call has gone out for native people of the land to come to support the Standing Rock tribe all over Indian Country. To date as of September 3, well over 8,000 people from all over the world have come to support the Standing Rock tribe from all parts of the world and over180+ have written letters of support. Many native people soon were traveling to Standing Rock to stand for the protections of our sacred waters.
A camp was establish on the Cannon Ball ranch of LaDonna Allard as she had met with the Army Corps of Engineers staff and archeologist to view the proposed Dakota Access pipeline which was to be built on March 7, 2016. The Cannon Ball area is considered sacred to the tribes of the area. Also located in the area is a village site of the Arikara as cultural items are located on the surface from mole hills. This area is also known as a eagle nesting area as they have nested here for many generations. The Cannon Ball River area has approximately over 296 archeological sites along with stone features and other rock formations which represents the plain culture of the area from the many tribal nations traveling this area.
With this in mind of the culturally importance of the area the Sacred Stone Camp was establish in April with groups of people numbering as many as 45 to 50 people. When word gone out many native tribes answer the call to help and support Standing Rock. Mind you due to the number of people gathering for a sacred cause through the power of prayer and peacefulness. Little be it known history would be awaiting the people who have made the journey to Standing Rock as the last time a large ground of native people coming together was at the battle of the Greasy Grass at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Over 180 native tribes have come as people from all over the world have arrived from France, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Jamaica, Hawaii and as far as Alaska, and Canada from the 1st Nations people. We have come united in a common cause. It has been a who’s who’s of native people who have all come together who fight their own battles at home over pipelines as well as notable movie stars who have sided with our native people.
As people starting to arrive Dakota Access started to begin work and many of the peaceful people as water defenders blocked much of the construction sites by placing themselves in harm way to protect the land and the sacred waters. A number of times Dakota Access had change their route destroying the lands with out and Environmental Impact Statement of route changed. People were soon charged with trespassing on Army Corps lands in a nonviolent but peaceful manner without drawing any type of violence but in a peaceful manner as even the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault was arrested Friday September 11, 2016, afternoon at a protest rally where the Dakota Access Pipeline is headed toward the Missouri River just north of the reservation boundary. Archambault was booked into the Morton County Jail and released on bond late afternoon. He was charged with disorderly conduct for pushing back on a police line formed when protesters tried to prevent pipeline workers from leaving the site. Tribal councilman Dana Yellow Fat was also arrested Friday as were four others who attempted to block pipeline workers trying to reach the work site early this morning.
On September 3, 2016 at approximately 2 pm on a Labor Day weekend was working destroying burial site markers where were identified by the Standing Rock archaeologist were being destroyed by the Dakota Access bulldozers.
In hopes of destroying these which would in Dakota Access free rein to continue work. Many of the water protectors came to the aid of the burial sites and stopped the work in progress only to be met by attack dogs from a company based in Bismarck, North Dakota 10-Code mercenaries who had not so trained attack dogs. Upon release of these attacked dogs. The attacked dogs attacked their dog handlers. Finally getting control of the dogs they were release on unarmed protectors. A young child was bitten and had to be transport to the Bismarck hospital by her parents as well as a pregnant native woman. A total of approximately 20 people were bitten and just prior to the dog attack 10-Code people used pepper spray on approximately 20 people.
A rallying cried gone out to water protectors who eventually stopped the destruction of the burial sites. Later the afternoon at approximately well over 2,000 people marched to the site of the destruction for a native ceremony to once again put the spirits at peace. Over 16 various native tribes of medicine men and woman, spiritual leaders from other tribes, sun dancers and singers took part in this ceremony. The end of the ceremony involved the 2,000 people to conduct their own prayer and with the last song sung. All people were encouraged to sing. After the ceremony we had over 6 smudge bowls to smudge everyone from babies to elders who took part in the ceremony. The 6 smudge bowls were cared by our native women. After everyone was smudge I did the final smudging of the 6 ladies as we had completed what we came to do.
With the latest news of the pending hearing from the US judge in Washington DC. Word came he has sided with Dakota Access and disapproved our motions from the Standing Rock tribe to stop or postpone the project. Then shortly after this announcement was made in a joint statement from the US Justice Department, Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, DC, and the President Obama officer. He has stopped the project in and around the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. People were jubilant with the news however knowing it is only an temporary fix. With the news people are still high with a knowing we’re not done yet. As, people are now readying to hunker down for the pending winter months.
Work is going out for a renewal call for support, supplies and provision for the water defenders and protectors of our sacred water. We have vow not to give up for the sake of our sacred water.
We will continue to be strong just as our ancestors have.
Water is Life.
Water is Sacred.
Kenny Frost is a Native American Consultant, and protectors of our lands and treaties.