LAKOTA Elder Rita LongVisitor HolyDance and Water Protector/CAMP organizer LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard share a laugh and some Lakota wisdom in the lobby of the Prairie Knights Casino Hotel, North Dakota, October 2016.
It only takes 60 seconds to show what their land looked like then, and what their land looks like now.
Their History is a long and tragic one. Having context helps us all to understand.
1862 – 1864 - The Dakota were frustrated by the lack of payments from the federal government, settler encroachments onto Dakota land, and other treaty violations begin the Great Sioux Uprising. Bands of Dakota attack settlers, and the United States Army is called in to protect them. United States military tribunals charge 303 Dakota of murder or rape of civilians and 38 Dakota men are sentenced to death in the largest penal execution in American history. The following year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs abolishes the Dakota reservation and forcibly moves the Dakota to Nebraska and South Dakota.
1876-1877 - The Great Sioux War begins after gold is discovered in Black Hills and settlers rush to the area, prompting the United States Army to violate the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Colonel Custer attacks Sioux and seizes the Black Hills. During the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn), Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho forces kill Custer and a large portion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry.
1877 - The Black Hills Act (also known as “the Agreement of 1877,” the “Sell or Starve Act,” or the Indian Appropriations Act of 1876) cuts off government rations until the Oceti Sakowin cease hostilities and cede the Black Hills. The Black Hills were ceded but there is no record that the United States purchased the land.
1889 - United States violates the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty by breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations, enforcing private property ownership, agriculture, and residential schools without adequate resources.
1890 - In response to the United States breaking up of the Great Sioux Reservation, Lakota Sioux take up the Ghost Dance. The Bureau of Indian Affairs calls in the Army, which assassinates Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. A small band seeking shelter set up camp at Wounded Knee Creek, where the army attempts to disarm them. The U.S. army escalates a confrontation and kills 250 to 300 Lakota, mostly women and children.
1948 - Construction begins on the Lake Oahe dam for the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, and is completed in 1962. The Lake Oahe dam destroys more Native land than any other water project in the United States, and eliminates 90% of timber land on the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne Sioux Reservations, along with grazing and agricultural land.
1972 - Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan. Several Indigenous-led groups (close to 200 Indians in total) began caravaning from the West coast to Washington D.C. to present President Nixon with a 20-point position paper demanding the United States respect the sovereignty of Indian nations. After Nixon refuses to meet with the Caravan, they occupy the Bureau of Indian Affair headquarters for a week until Nixon aides agreed to treaty negotiations.
1998 President Clinton issues Executive Order No.13084 (“Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”). This pledges that the federal government will establish and uphold meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in matters that will significantly impact their communities.
fast forward to 2014: the beginning of the dakota access pipeline. a proposal to build a pipeline beneath still-disputed land currently not in sioux possession.
2015 - In February, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the federal government body in charge of the nation’s waterways, initiates the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. By December, The Corps publishes an environmental assessment stating that “the Standing Rock THPO had indicated to DAPL that the Lake Oahu site avoided impacts to tribally significant sites.” The Corps eventually receives critical letters on the assessment from the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historical Preservation (ACHP). Other tribes whose ancestral lands are slated to be crossed by the pipeline voice their concerns in solidarity with Standing Rock, including the Osage Nation and Iowa Tribe THPO, who wrote to the ACHP: “We have not been consulted in an appropriate manner about the presence of traditional cultural properties, sites, or landscapes vital to our identity and spiritual well-being.”
July 2016 — The Army Corps of Engineers grants pipeline permits at more than 200 water crossings. The Standing Rock Sioux sues. The Cheyenne River Sioux later join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
July 27, 2016 - Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a complaint in federal court stating that, “the construction and operation of the pipeline…threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe.” The complaint further reveals that the two Treaties of Fort Laramie in 1851 and 1868 were given reserved land rights “set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” by the Sioux (in exchange for ceding a large portion of their aboriginal territory in the Northern Great Plains). The complaint notes that Congress betrayed the terms of the treaty twice, stripping large portions of the reservation, leaving nine smaller reservations including Standing Rock.
Aug. 10 — North Dakota authorities make the first arrests of protesters. The total has since surpassed 600, including actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
Sept. 9 — U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg denies an attempt by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt pipeline construction. The same day, the Army, the Department of Justice and the Interior Department declare that construction bordering or under Lake Oahe won't go forward pending further review.
Sept 9 - The Obama administration announced it would halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline near North Dakota’s Lake Oahe until it can do more environmental assessments minutes after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington D.C. denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary stop construction on DAPL.
October 9 - The halt initiated by President Obama was overturned on when the United States Court of Appeals ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s original complaint—allowing destruction of Native lands and burial grounds to continue.
October 25 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instituted a 12-day, 14-mile “No Fly Zone” over Cannonball, North Dakota, where the protesters are camped, prohibiting all aircraft, including drones, with the exception of law enforcement officials. As the Washington Post reports, “…the establishment of a ‘No-Fly Zone’ is tantamount to a declaration of war.”
October 27 - About 140 protesters are arrested after a large clash with police. Protesters light fire to hay bails and construction equipment as police in riot gear use pepper spray and fire bean bags
Nov 13 - The Army Corps of Engineers releases a statement in response to the growing violence between law enforcement and water protectors to re-evaluate the easement they had granted, allowing the pipeline to run underneath Lake Oahe. "The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property." Source: http://www.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/News-Release-Article-View/Article/1003593/statement-regarding-the-dakota-access-pipeline/
Dec. 4 — Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy declines to allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe in part because she says alternate routes need to be considered. Energy Transfer Partners calls the decision politically motivated and accuses President Barack Obama's administration of delaying the matter until he leaves office.
Dec 4 - Media reports 'victory' for Standing Rock water protectors that misleads the narrative that the construction of the pipeline could be stopped. At this point, the pipeline is 99% built. "CANNON BALL, N.D. — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a major victory on Sunday in its battle to block an oil pipeline being built near its reservation when the Department of the Army announced that it would not allow the pipeline to be drilled under a dammed section of the Missouri River." Courtesy of the New York Times
Jan. 18 — The Army Corps launches a full environmental study of the pipeline's disputed Lake Oahe crossing that could take up to two years to complete. Boasberg, the federal judge, rejects an ETP request to stop the study.
Feb. 8 — In compliance with Trump's Executive Order, the Army forgoes further study and grants an easement necessary to complete the pipeline and the company immediately begins drilling under Lake Oahe. The two tribes challenge the move in court two days later.
Feb. 13 — A federal judge in Washington denies the tribes' request for an emergency order halting construction of the pipeline, saying he'll consider it more fully at a Feb. 27 hearing.
February 8 - More than 700 arrests have been made since the protests began on August 10