Art and Protest at Standing Rock The untold story of #nodapl

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.

Oct 8 , 2017 - Camp organizer LaDonna Allard escorts us to the Press tent and we were given permission to photograph and film anything at any of the camps unless someone personally objected to being documented in our efforts to document Grandmother Rita's pilgrimage to Standing Rock.

Scroll down to read a BRIEF timeline of the Lakota and "The Great Sioux Nation", as it was told to me. Followed by a timeline of news coverage of events at standing Rock.

It only takes 60 seconds to show what their land looked like then, and what their land looks like now.

1851 - First Fort Laramie Treaty (the Horse Creek Treaty) signed by the United States and representatives of Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Sioux nations to guarantee safe passage of settlers to California in exchange for goods and services. Ten to fifteen thousand gathered in what is the largest gathering of Plains Nations in history. Many nations never receive payment from the United States.

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.

1868 - The Fort Laramie Treaty guarantees Sioux reservation land including the Black Hills, and hunting rights in Montana, Wyoming, 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.

1973 - Wounded Knee Occupation. Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement members occupy the town of Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to protest against the corrupt reserve governance structure. The Occupation lasts for 71 days and calls for re-establishment of United States treaty obligations and nation-to-nation relations with Indian nations in the United States. AIM member Leonard Peltier is held in federal prison for the murder of two FBI agents despite evidence that his trial was unconstitutional and unfair. (Update: March 2017, Peltier is still being held in Federal Prison, 44 years later.) Photo courtesy of
1980 - U.S. government rules that the U.S. illegally seized the Black Hills in 1877, and offers $15.5 million (1877 price of the land) plus $105 million (5% interest on the land over 103 years). The Lakota refuse and demand return of land from the United States. Photo courtesy of

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.

July 7, 1999 - President Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He is the first sitting President since Calvin Coolidge in 1927 to make an official visit to an Indian Reservation. Photo by Sharon Farmer / White House / NARA

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.

Dec. 2014 —Energy Transfer Partners applies to the federal government to build the 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline to carry North Dakota oil through the Dakotas and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Illinois. The pipeline is projected to cost $3.8 billion and carry half a million barrels of oil daily. The proposed route skirts the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation and crosses under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota that serves as the tribe's drinking water source. ETP doesn't recognize that while the land may currently be privately owned, it is still Sioux Territory according to Treaty. Map Courtesy of Energy Transfer Partners
2016 - This map shows the original pipeline route (the broken line), which would have gone north of the city of Bismark, ND. Residents of Bismarck fought to have the pipeline re-routed as to not threaten their water supply. The solid line represents the new pipeline route running straight through Sioux Territory under the the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie. Map Constructed from Dakota Access Pipeline Project Draft Environmental Assessment Data, by Carl Sack 11/11/16.

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.”

March 2016 — Iowa regulators approve the pipeline, making it the fourth and final state to grant permission, granting Energy Transfer Partners the go ahead with pipeline construction. Photo: Laura Fong
April 2016 — Opponents establish a camp at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in southern North Dakota for peaceful protest. Camps in the area would later swell to thousands of people. Photo Courtesy of

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 3 - In the first incident of violence, law enforcement and privately hired security turn loose dogs on unarmed water protectors and employ the use of mace. Image courtesy of

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.

September 2016 - the presence of "militarized police" becomes a part of the daily life for water protectors. Image courtesy of
October 2016 - The Oceti Sakowin water protector camp near Cannonball, SD was one of three camps in the area that by this time consisted of more than 5,000 people who were preparing for a long, cold, North Dakota winter.

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.

Oct 10 - Actress Shailene Woodley is arrested for criminal trespass, bringing the most media attention in 6 months of more than 200 nations joined in solidarity at Standing Rock.
October 22 - Police arrested 83 unarmed Water Protectors on charges of criminal trespass, inciting a riot, and resisting arrest after spraying them with pepper and beating with them with batons (documented with video and photos and facebook live). Photo: The Santa Monica Observer

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

November 15 - The police have arrested more than 460 water protectors since protests began on August 10. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi, The Boston Globe

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:

Nov 14 - Energy Transfer Partners responds to the statement regarding suspending the easement by the Army Corps of engineers. Courtesy of
Nov 15 - Energy transfer partners files a request for a Federal ruling to allow them to continue the construction of the pipeline in spite of this decision by the Army Corps of Engineers. Courtesy of
Nov. 20, 21 — As temperatures dipped down to 26 degrees Fahrenheit, law enforcement officials blasted hundreds of people with water cannons near Oceti Sakowin camp. Authorities use tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons on protesters who they say assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs at a blockaded bridge, in one of the most violent clashes of the protest. At least 17 protesters are taken to hospitals. One officer was injured when struck in the head with a rock.

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.

Jan 24 — President Donald Trump signs executive actions to advance the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, 4 days after taking office as 45th President of the United States of America . Courtesy of

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

Feb. 22 — Authorities give protesters until 2 p.m. to leave a camp on federal land. The Army Corps of Engineers says the protesters must go because of a spring flooding threat.
March 2017 - Water Protectors are not leaving the site of the drilling beneath Lake Oahe.

They say art imitates life. it is the storytellers who will fill in the gaps of this story, now that the world is paying attention.

Unci Rita LongVisitor HolyDance and her son Nathan Blindman made a pilgrimage to the Oceti Sakowin camp to offer support and encouragement to those fighting for their native rights and standing up for broken treaties. Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota, October, 2016.

take a drive through the camp with us... october, 2016


Laura Fong 2016

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