NEAR CANNON BALL, STANDING ROCK SIOUX NATION – Thousands of Native American people and their allies have gathered in the hills 40 minutes south of Bismark to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many have flown in, but just as many have been driving for days to reach this place. It takes two days to drive here from Denver, most of it via county roads without cell phone service.
Coming from the south towards Cannon Ball, signs protesting the pipeline begin to show themselves as soon as one enters the Standing Rock Reservation. Sitting Bull, the great Lakota leader and freedom fighter who resisted the United States for decades, was murdered nearby and once interred here. Like Nat Turner, Sitting Bull was moved by a vision to take up arms against his oppressor.
But there are no weapons allowed here at Red Warrior Camp. Security at the entrance to the camp from ND-1806 says weapons, along with drugs and alcohol, are prohibited. People here are gathering to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline with just their bodies – by chaining themselves to machines or simply standing in front of them. They are here to demand sovereignty over their water, and are attacked by dogs, mace and mass arrest in reply.
The weather is warm and the wind dry up on the only hill that gets cell phone service in the camp. People ride horses bareback and drum and sing long into the night. Hot food is prepared and served by the Standing Rock Sioux, and the donation tents are busy sorting cold-weather clothes for the months ahead. There are no plans to leave any time soon. People are winterizing their tents and tipis and chopping wood for fires.
166 flags stand at the entrance to the camp, representing the 166 Native American Tribes and Organizations present, as well as other flags from solidarity activists from Palestine, Russia, Laos, Brazil, Honduras and elsewhere. There are First Nations people from British Columbia, Quechua people from Peru, Native Americans who drove from North Carolina or New York or San Diego.
Thousands of people are present at Standing Rock, united around the idea of national sovereignty and the desire to save the earth from what activists here call The Black Snake.
Near Red Warrior Camp, performers rap over a PA system about Standing Rock, Sitting Bull, the Black Hills and growing up on reservations. They rap about jail, the US government and opiate addiction. People wear t-shirts that have BLACK SNAKE KILLA emblazoned in spray paint.
Here’s what some of them had to say:
LISTEN / 18:55 / MP3 direct link