STANDING ROCK SIOUX NATIONS, N.D. — Just one day after informing courts on the location of sacred Lakota sites, construction crews for the Dakota Access Pipeline bulldozed through the area Saturday, causing a disruption.
In dramatic images and videos posted to social media, land defenders were shown running to stop the destruction but were met by private security with helicopters flying above, armed with attack dogs, and sprayed with mace and tear gas.
Witnesses said construction workers picked up their construction equipment and moved it nearly twenty miles west of the original area being dug up — right where the tribe identified significant cultural sites just one day before.
Six people including a pregnant woman and child, and a horse were attacked and bitten by the dogs.
Tribal Chairman David Archambault called the demolition “devastating” and said, “in one day the tribe’s sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”
The demolished path stretches 150 feet wide for about two miles northwest of the Missouri River.
Lawyer for the tribe says demolishing sacred sites recently identified in court is outrageous — noting pipeline workers took action on a holiday weekend just days before a court ruling on the case.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation filed an emergency request Sunday for a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The matter went before the U.S. District Courts Tuesday afternoon and granted just half of the protection orders the tribe was requesting.
Judge James E. Boasberg wrote, “In response to the tribe’s emergency request to halt machines destroying recently identified sacred sites: the Court orders that no construction activity on the DAPL may take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe. Construction activity to the west of Highway 1806 may proceed.”
Archambault posted a live video to the Tribe’s Facebook page and said he was disappointed in the courts decision and says it puts sacred sites at risk for “continued ruin and desecrating what is important to us.”
A United States Vietnam veteran by the name of ‘A.P.’ appeared in the video with Archambault to express his solidarity.
“We stand here in solidarity,” said A.P.. “I spent a year in Vietnam as a grunt as a point man. And if i did that for the United States people — I would do that for my people here, my relatives here. I wouldn’t even think once. That’s how dedicated all of these people, men and women, all of these.
“We don’t come here to do wrong we come here to do right by our brothers, sisters, and we’ll stay here until we get it,” said A.P..
Archambault said despite Tuesday’s ruling, the people should remain peaceful and respectful.
“Even after this partial win — partial loss — we know they’re not going to do anything east of the Highway 1806, which isn’t much. The lands that we were hoping to protect were on the west side of 1806. I ask that we refrain from using violence. I ask that we refrain from verbal abuse or physical abuse on anyone and I ask that from both sides.”
“The situation that happened this past Saturday was provoked by the company,” said Archambault. “I hope that as we move forward that everybody remains calm and in peace. It’s not over we still have a long ways to go. I’m very appreciative of everyone here.”
In a statement earlier this week, Chairman for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Alvaro Pop Ac, called on the U.S. to provide the tribe a “fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”
Dalee Dorough, an Inuit member of the forum, which provides representation at the world body for indigenous peoples around the globe, said failure to consult with Sioux over the project violated the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Article 19 of the declaration, which the U.S. endorsed in 2010, says: “States shall consult and co-operate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”
“There has been a lack of good faith consultation with the indigenous people who will more than likely be impacted,” Dorough said in telephone interview from Anchorage Alaska. “The U.N. declaration is fundamental because President Obama pronounced support for it and that they haven’t been consulted consistent with the rights of that declaration is highly problematic.’’
Last week, supporters at the three camps established to halt the pipeline were estimated to number near 4000.
A judge is set to rule on the fate of the pipeline by September 9th.
-with CP files