Dakota Access Pipeline Protests At A Standoff

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The bitter battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline. We’ll take you there.

Protesters against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline block a highway in near Cannon Ball, N.D. (James MacPherson/AP)
Protesters against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline block a highway in near Cannon Ball, N.D. (James MacPherson/AP)

In North Dakota, the tents and teepees have been up for months. Native Americans and environmental protesters trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Its sponsors want to ship oil to Illinois. Opponents say it’s a danger to water supplies and a desecration of sacred sites. Last week hundreds of police moved in hard. There were dramatic clashes and 140 arrests. The protesters are still there. Winter is coming. This hour On Point,  the standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline. — Tom Ashbrook


Lynda Mapes, reporter for the Seatle Times, where she covers the environment, national history and Native American tribes. (@LyndaVMapes)

Alex Romero, member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. Protester involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Republican U.S. respresentative for North Dakota's at-large district. Environmental policy advisor for Donald Trump. (@RepKevinCramer)

Nick Reo, citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Assistant professor of Native American and environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

Gusti Terkildsen, student at Dartmouth College and member of Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. Members of her family are still protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

From Tom’s Reading List

Seattle Times: Pepper spray, chaos as N.D. pipeline protesters cleared from private land -- "Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline grew significantly more volatile Thursday, as law enforcement using pepper spray and concussion grenades forced protesters off private land on the pipeline route  At least 141 people were arrested, and as night wore into early morning Friday, protesters were still in a standoff with police."

Mother Jones: A History of Native Americans Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline -- "The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile conduit slated to carry crude oil from North Dakota to southern Illinois when it's completed by the end of this year. Since its approval in late July, the project has sparked outrage."

WIRED: As Standing Rock Protesters Face Down Armored Trucks, the World Watches on Facebook — "'If any of these law enforcement shoot one of my people, it is going down, people'  Atsa E’sha Hoferer tells the camera on Facebook Live. 'We are prayerful people.' He gets cut off by the screaming of a long range acoustic device—a sound cannon, the kind used by police to break up protests in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year. But even over the alarm, people watching on computers and phones can hear the soft voice of a protester singing and strumming a guitar. The wind whips Hoferer’s bandana against his neck. A police bullhorn tells the protesters to move."

Protester: "It's Not Just A Water Thing — It's A People Thing"

We were lucky enough to talk with Alex Romero, one of many protesters from the Dakota Access Pipeline blockage in North Dakota, during our broadcast today. While she's no longer in the protest camp, she detailed her experience in the protest camp, and watching that camp be disrupted by police forces.

"What I've seen is the over-militarization of the police force," Romero told us. "We're gathered there in prayer, that's our goal — and to be met with basically the U.S. Calvary you might say, we felt like our ancestors in a way."

"What it felt like was a war — the booming of the grenades, the shots being fired," Romero told us. Her investment in the protest movement is complicated — and based on many layers of personal and familial tradition.

"I want a future for my children and my grandchildren," Romero said. "It's not just a water thing, it's a people thing. Tribes need to be heard from a federal standpoint. We just want the government to uphold the contract that they signed with our ancestors."

This program aired on October 31, 2016.


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