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Standing with Standing Rock

By Marty Goodman - Socialist Action, January 13, 2017

More than bitter winter weather lies ahead for hundreds of Native American nations and their supporters battling hazardous fossil-fuel pipelines on sacred Sioux land at the Standing Rock camp near Cannonball, North Dakota. A far more bitter struggle looms for Native American rights and climate justice with the incoming Trump administration. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for the Department of Energy, is a climate-change denier and sits on boards of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco, two companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Oil company execs are vowing to complete the pipeline despite a Dec. 4 decision by the Obama administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to not give the go-ahead to Dakota Access Pipelines (DAPL) to dig pipelines under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, a source of drinking water for the Sioux nation and millions downstream. The decision instructs the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an environmental study with community input, a process that could take one or two years.

On Dec. 13, the New York Daily News posted a recording it had received in which Mathew Ramsey, a top exec at Energy Transfer Partners, DAPL’s parent company, was said to be telling ETP staff, “I’ve got to tell you, election night changed everything.” Ramsey said on the recording, “We fully expect as soon as he is inaugurated this team is going to move to the final approvals, and DAPL will cross the lake.”

Vulture capitalist and President-elect Donald Trump has declared his support for the pipeline and is personally invested in DAPL for up to $1 million. Also invested are many of the corporations of Trump’s billionaire pals, such as Chase Morgan bank, the Bank of America, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo—which alone has invested $467 million. The pipeline will extend 1170 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through sacred Sioux land to Illinois and ultimately to the Gulf Coast. The cost is $3.7 billion.

A lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe contends that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other federal laws in allowing the pipeline to be dug under Lake Oahe. If the Army Corp’s permission to dig is restored, or if the federal court in North Dakota accepts DAPL’s arguments, pipeline construction could resume.

North Dakota’s laws are the strictest when it comes to allowing out of state public defenders to represent “water protectors” facing charges in court, now totaling at least 550. The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) of the National Lawyers Guild provides legal support but is overwhelmed and urges the state to relax its guidelines. Seventy-five North Dakota lawyers have been assigned 165 cases, but an additional 264 water protectors remain without lawyers.

The WPLC has also called for the dismissal of State Attorney Ladd Erickson for his inflammatory comments in court, referring to water protectors as staging “fake news” and “simply props for videos of stage events.” The hearings have been postponed, and the Trump administration’s actions will ultimately determine the continued relevance of the lawsuit. Whatever happens, the first rule of capitalism will still apply: ‘laws are meant to be broken’ … if they stand in the way of profits!

Originally, DAPL was to traverse an area close to the mostly white Bismarck, some 50 miles distant, but when the plan encountered opposition, the pipeline was rerouted to Standing Rock. DAPL is in violation of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie and the treaty of 1868. In the 1950s, hundreds of thousands of acres of Sioux land was seized to make way for a dam, with little or no compensation. In the treaties, the Sioux agreed to keep the area undeveloped and for hunting, but it is now ravaged by fossil-fuel polluters.

Demonstrating corporate contempt for the environment, a recent examination of oil spills in the last 30 years revealed over 8700 pipeline spills. On Dec. 13, two hours from Standing Rock, a pipeline spilled an estimated 176,000 gallons of crude into the Ash Coulee Creek. Sunoco Logistics, DAPL’s future operator, has the worst safety record of all. According to government statistics, it has had over 200 leaks since 2010. Last October, a Sunoco gas pipeline ruptured in Pennsylvania, spilling 55,000 gallons into the Susquehanna River.

The outrage at Standing Rock is a continuation of 500 years of the rape of Native American rights through massacres, racism, land theft, and forced displacement. DAPL is a textbook case of environmental racism and is in violation of international laws and agreements on the rights of indigenous peoples.

ILWU pledges solidarity with Standing Rock

By Staff - ILWU Dispatcher, January 12, 2017

On December 6, the ILWU International Executive Board voted unanimously to adopt a statement of policy opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The controversial project is opposed by Native Americans across the continent because it threatens Native lands and water.

The pipeline’s original route would have crossed the Missouri River upstream from Bismarck, North Dakota, but was rerouted because of concerns that an oil leak would contaminate the City’s water supply.Pipeline proponents want the oil to cross just a half-mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, buried underneath the tribe’s water supply.

The ongoing protest by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on their North Dakota reservation began in April, 2016. The effort has drawn world-wide attention and attracted thousands of Native American supporters and allies. It has become the largest protest gathering of Native Tribes in recent history.

International Executive Board Statement of Policy

“The Tribal Nations of the Great Plains rely on the waters of the life-giving Missouri River for present and future existence, and the Dakota Access Pipeline construction poses a very serious risk to that continued existence. The Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the safety of the areas of fish and wildlife, sacred sites and historical archeological resources that lie within and around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and associated lands,” declares the ILWU Statement of Policy.

The International Executive Board also approved a $10,000 donation to the Standing Rock Sioux from the solidarity fund. The Coast Longshore Committee added an additional $5,000 donation.

“The ILWU has never been afraid to take a stand on important political issues,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath

Support for the Standing Rock Sioux was first expressed by the ILWU’s Pacific Coast Pensioners Association that adopted a resolution in September of 2016.

Local 10’s Executive Board then passed a resolution on November 8 against the pipeline project and in support of increased funding for workers affected by any jobs lost on the pipeline. The resolution called on the labor movement to support a “just transition” for workers into renewable energy jobs, to help working families, combat climate change and promote investment in renewable energy.

10 Indigenous and Environmental Struggles You Can Support in 2017

From - Sacred Stone Camp, January 10, 2017

The Black Snake is not yet dead. Far from it. The corporations behind the Dakota Access pipeline made it clear that they “fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe.”

The winter camps will stand their ground as long as DAPL construction equipment remains on Oceti Sakowin treaty land. We can all continue to support them by emailing or calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-8700 to ask when it will open the Environmental Impact Statement process to public comment. We can also keep pressure on the banks to divest with our international campaign to #DefundDAPL.

But while international attention has been on the Standing Rock Sioux and the #NoDAPL struggle, the Obama and Trudeau administrations have approved several other pipeline projects slated to run across indigenous territories from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. The struggle to protect sacred lands from climate change, toxic pollution, and the fossil fuel industry continues to rage around the world.

In the year ahead, it is our hope that the energy and love we have received in our struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline can also be extended to other indigenous communities in their local battles. Here are ten struggles you could consider donating to, volunteering time for, or supporting in other ways:

Bay Area IWW Resolution Defending the West Berkeley Shellmound

Passed by the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch - January 5, 2016

Whereas, California Public Resources Code Section 5097.98 (a) states: Whenever the commission receives notification of a discovery of Native American human remains from a county coroner pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 7050.5 of the Health and Safety Code, it shall immediately notify those persons it believes to be most likely descended from the deceased Native American. The descendants may, with the permission of the owner of the land, or his or her authorized representative, inspect the site of the discovery of the Native American human remains and may recommend to the owner or the person responsible for the excavation work means for treatment or disposition, with appropriate dignity, of the human remains and any associated grave goods. The descendants shall complete their inspection and make recommendations or preferences for treatment within 48 hours of being granted access to the site; and

Whereas, California Public Resources Code Section 5097.98 (b) states: Upon the discovery of Native American remains, the landowner shall ensure that the immediate vicinity, according to generally accepted cultural or archaeological standards or practices, where the Native American human remains are located, is not damaged or disturbed by further development activity until the landowner has discussed and conferred, as prescribed in this section, with the most likely descendants regarding their recommendations, if applicable, taking into account the possibility of multiple human remains. The landowner shall discuss and confer with the descendants all reasonable options regarding the descendants' preferences for treatment; and

Whereas, Section 7050.5 of the California Health and Safety Code states: In the event of discovery or recognition of any human remains in any location other than a dedicated cemetery, there shall be no further excavation or disturbance of the site or any nearby area reasonably suspected to overlie adjacent remains until the coroner of the county in which the human remains are discovered has determined whether or not the remains are to be subject to the coroner's authority, and if the coroner determines that the remains are not subject to his or her authority and if the coroner recognizes the human remains to be those of a Native American, or has reason to believe that they are those of a Native American, he or she shall contact, by telephone within 24 hours, the Native American Heritage Commission, and

Whereas, On March 29, 2016 construction workers uncovered what appear to be “pre-contact” Indian remains while digging a trench on Fourth Street near Hearst Avenue in West Berkeley as part of the redevelopment of Spenger’s Fish Grotto and adjoining parcels, and

Whereas, the uncovered remains are almost certainly part of the West Berkeley Shellmound (Berkeley City Landmark #227, believed to be centered at, but not limited to Second Street and Hearst Avenue), and

Whereas, On January 16, 2016 the Berkeley City Council adopted three resolutions strengthening recognition of the Ohlone people as the original inhabitants of Berkeley and recognizing the shellmound as an indigenous sacred site. One of the resolutions promised that the “informed consent of the Ohlone and other indigenous peoples of the region be integral to any alteration planning for the Berkeley Shellmound sacred site.”, and

Whereas, throughout the history of the United States, the livelihoods, cultural traditions, and wellbeing of indigenous peoples have been routinely abused, destroyed, discounted, and/or ignored, and

Whereas, continued construction of the project would effectively remove a portion of Berkeley City Landmark #227, and the partial or total destruction of previously unidentified intact archeological deposits by the Project would impair the ability of such resources to convey important scientific and cultural information, and

Whereas, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch has recognized the importance of protecting sacred indigenous cultural sites by passing resolutions in support of Standing Rock and against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and

Whereas, the universal union credo, "an injury to one is an injury to all" must apply to frontline communities in a broader sense,

Be it Resolved That, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch calls upon the City of Berkeley to deny any and all permits for this development, and

Be it Further Resolved That, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch demands that this site be given a larger protected status due to its cultural and historical significance."

The Inland Boatmen's Union has also passed a Reolution to Protect the West Berkeley Shelmound opposing the 1900 4th st. devolpment and we would like additional locals and the labor councils or the Bay Area to pass similar resolutions to stop the proposed desecration of this Sacred Site!"

Standing fast at Standing Rock

By Lois Danks - Freedom Socialist, December 2016

Indian-led encampments on Standing Rock Sioux territory are digging in for the North Dakota winter. They are determined to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. And they are not alone, as thousands upon thousands join their bold struggle to save planet resources and peoples.

Already they have won a temporary victory from the government to halt the digging, but Dakota Access is moving equipment to tunnel under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. And the Norway-based bank DNB has sold its pipeline assets and may terminate loans.

The construction, which was fast-tracked without a full environmental review and without the knowledge and consent of the Standing Rock Sioux, is planned to carry half a million barrels of oil every day. A spill would poison the water supply and farmlands of the Standing Rock Indian reservation and of 17 million people downriver.

Since April the largest Standing Rock camp (Oceti Sakowin or the Seven Council Fires) has welcomed hundreds of tribes and dozens of delegations including the Two Spirit (LGBTQ) delegation and Labor for Standing Rock. At times the camp swells to over 7,000 people dedicated to halting the pipeline construction.

We Still Stand With Standing Rock

By Labor for Standing Rock - Labor for Standing Rock, December 14, 2016

Editor's Note: Many IWW members have been and continue to be involved with this mobilization. One of the three founders of Labor for Standing Rock is also a founder of the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus.

Labor for Standing Rock salutes the Water Protectors, whose courageous resistance has forced the Obama administration not to grant a final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River.

We thank all those who have already joined us on the ground; helped purchase and deliver supplies to winterize Standing Rock camp; and organized support in their own unions and communities. We appreciate the thousands of military veterans whose recent presence has played a key role in fighting DAPL. This is what working class solidarity looks like.

Now, we must keep the pressure on until the Black Snake is dead and gone.

As indigenous activists point out: "This fight is not over, not even close. In fact, this fight is escalating. The incoming Trump administration promises to be a friend to the oil industry and an enemy to Indigenous people. It is unclear what will happen with the river crossing. Now more than ever, we ask that you stand with us as we continue to demand justice." http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/…/whats-next-wate…

While supporters are not being asked to come to Standing Rock at this time, the coalition "support[s] those who choose to stay, if they are able to live comfortably and self-sufficiently through a winter in the Great Plains." In addition, indigenous activists have asked Labor for Standing Rock to continue providing support for those who remain through the bitter winter.

In this context, we reaffirm that workers' rights are inseparable from indigenous rights. An Injury to One is an Injury to All! -- Mni Wiconi: Water is Life! There are no jobs -- or life -- on a dead planet; we need just transition and full employment to build a sustainable world.

How the water protectors won at Standing Rock

By staff - Socialist Worker, December 5, 2016

The thousands of water protectors and their supporters camping by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation scored a major victory on Sunday, December 4, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it wouldn't grant a permit to builders of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River.

The announcement, a significant milestone in the effort to compel the government to recognize Native sovereignty over tribal lands, came one day before a deadline given to protesters to clear out of the camps they had constructed to oppose construction of the pipeline. Throughout the previous week, thousands of people had arrived to protect the camp from any attempt by law enforcement to uproot it.

Questions remain about what will happen next. The Army Corps has said it will consider an alternative route, and President-elect Donald Trump favors completion of the pipeline project. But for now, the pipeline is stopped, giving protesters time to continue their organizing efforts.

Here, we publish eyewitness accounts by contributors to SocialistWorker.org from New York City--Leia Petty, Edna Bonhomme, Emily Brooks, Sumaya Awad and Dorian Bon--who traveled to North Dakota for this weekend to show solidarity with the #NoDAPL struggle.

Gimme some DAPL

By Danny Katch - Socialist Worker, December 2, 2016

THE NORTH Dakota governor and the Army Corps of Engineers have ordered the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters to clear out of the tent camps they've set up to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Water protectors have made many convincing points against DAPL on the grounds that it's a violation of tribal sovereignty, a threat to water safety and a contribution to increased global warming, while the government and the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) have mostly let attack dogs and water cannons do their talking for them.

So in the post-election spirit of getting out of our bubbles and engaging in respectful dialogue with the other side, I'm going make the case for DAPL for them. Since this is a serious argument, it will take the form of a listicle.

Nurses Donate $50,000 to Aid Veterans Stand with Standing Rock

By Charles Idelson - Common Dreams, December 2, 2016

As Third Delegation of RN Volunteers Heads to North Dakota
RNs Call to President Obama, Attorney Gen Lynch to Intervene

National Nurses United today announced that it is donating $50,000 to support U.S. service veterans who are assembling this weekend as peaceful, unarmed defenders for the water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota who are enduring military style police assaults for opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, herself a decorated veteran, will be joining with the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock mobilization to support the protectors and help raise public attention to the growing human rights emergency that has emerged at the protest site in the face of increased attacks.

The NNU donation will assist a delegation of Navajo veterans from Arizona and New Mexico who will join the veterans gathering this weekend. Through NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, RN volunteers have worked with Navajo First Nation members before, providing first aid in September at the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, AZ.

Veterans Stand for Standing Rock plan a deployment December 4 to 7 of 2,000 veterans of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who intend to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation of the militarized police force and DAPL security.”

Concurrently, NNU is dispatching its third delegation of RN volunteers Saturday to stand in solidarity with the water protectors and their supporters.

“We salute the brave veterans who are standing up for the rights of the water protectors, and all of us who support this critical defense of the First Amendment right to assemble and protest without facing brutal and unwarranted attacks,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

In a letter last week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, NNU urged the Department of Justice “to promptly end the militarized response to Standing Rock water protesters and immediately stop the law enforcement use of military grade weapons and equipment that comes from the federal government.”

Nurses also support the call by tribal leaders on President Obama to deny the easement for the pipeline and “to protect the water for Standing Rock citizens and the 17 million people downstream”  as well as the call on North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to “stop the constitutional and human rights violations that are happening at Standing Rock.”

A combination of police agencies in apparent collaboration with DAPL private security contractors have reportedly used rubber/plastic bullets, tear gas grenades, pepper spray, sound cannons, and water cannons in sub-freezing temperature against those who oppose construction of a pipeline that the Standing Rock Sioux and allies say threatens water resources and ancestral sacred sites.

One protester, 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, has faced the loss of an arm after being hit with a police concussion grenade, according to the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council.

NNU volunteers will also be on hand this coming weekend. One RN headed to the site this weekend, Amy Bowen, said she is “committed to exhausting every effort to help save our environment and take a stand for our most basic human necessity: clean, oil-free water.

“I, along with other nurse volunteers with RNRN, will stand in solidarity to support the water protectors,” Bowen said.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Act as 'Human Shields' for Water Protectors

By Nika Knight - Common Dreams, December 2, 2016

As tensions grow in North Dakota, with multiple eviction orders facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, U.S. military veterans on Friday began arriving at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp.

The 2,000 veterans, which include Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), plan to act as an unarmed militia and peaceful human shields to protect the Indigenous activists from police brutality.

"I signed up to serve my country and my people and I did that overseas," Indigenous U.S. Navy veteran Brandee Paisano told the CBC. "I didn't think I'd have to do it here, on this land, so here I am. This is what I need to be doing."

The "deployment" is officially planned for December 4-7, but veterans who have arrived early have already taken their stand in front of the militarized police blockade stopping traffic into and out of the camp: 

The "Veterans Stand for Standing Rock" action has garnered widespread support, with the National Nurses United (NNU) union sending $50,000 to fund their expenses and a popular fundraiser surpassing $800,000 by Friday afternoon.

"We salute the brave veterans who are standing up for the rights of the water protectors, and all of us who support this critical defense of the First Amendment right to assemble and protest without facing brutal and unwarranted attacks," said NNU co-president Jean Ross.

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