|Photo credit Natalie Hand|
Lakota Media Project/Owe Aku
Protection of Sacred Sites Leads to Clash with Dakota Access Private Security and Halts Construction
Yesterday, on the 153rd anniversary of the White Stone Hill Massacre of over 300 Dakota men, women, and children, the Dakota Access company’s private security provoked an altercation with protectors of sacred sites west of Highway 1806. Just the day before, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed additional information with the D.C. District Court detailing dozens of sacred sites, including burial grounds, that are in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Yesterday morning, Dakota Access attempted construction on that route. A group of approximately 100 people traveled from the encampment on the Cannon Ball River and arrived on foot to protect the sites from harm. The active construction equipment was guarded by private security armed with trained dogs and mace.
Guards sprayed mace directly into people’s faces and released dogs without warning on the actively demonstrating, unarmed protectors. At least 6 people were bitten, including a pregnant woman and a young girl who was taken to the hospital in Ft. Yates in stable condition. At no point did the security guards provide any request to leave or verbal warning, nor did they provide identification.
LaDonna Allard, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, described the scene and the significance of the day, “September 3rd is the 153rd anniversary of the White Stone Hill Massacre. People from Cannon Ball are the descendants of survivors of that massacre. When the sun goes down, we know that’s when they started killing our people. We grew up with these stories. Yesterday morning, they told me Dakota Access was constructing. They are going over our culture, our land, our heart. On the day we remember those tears and that heartbreak, they are running over Mother Earth. I stood on that ground as the dogs barked and I prayed.”
A mother from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was bitten on the chest by a dog while demonstrating, “They stood there smugly and laughed at us. I did this for my mom. I did this with the spirits. My grandmother always told me to stand up for what I believe in, to stand up for my children. When I feel that my son’s future is threatened, that he might be poisoned, that he might not get to experience life because of cancer, how can I not protect my child? I’ll die for my son. For his future, for all of these children’s futures. What little we have left, I will protect.”
“This was a call to action to protect our sacred sites. People showed up in force to stop the construction and the disrespect. We were there to defend and pushed back the private security force in a non-violent way and they released attacks dogs on the women on the frontlines first. They are the aggressors. We didn’t fight back, but we stood our ground. Yesterday’s action was forced upon us,” said Cody Hall, on behalf of the Red Warrior Camp.