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Donald Trump's Moves Rekindle Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

The encampment at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in December 2016. (Flickr / CC 2.0)

Many people were angry when President Trump, just days into his presidency, signed presidential memorandums calling for the continued construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline, but North Dakota activists are determined to fight back.

Those opposing the Dakota Access pipeline, who call themselves water protectors, are urging supporters to return to North Dakota to aid in a new wave of resistance. This comes in contrast to events in December when #NoDAPL leaders asked that fewer people join the demonstrations.

Chase Iron Eyes, a leader of the #NoDAPL movement, recently spoke with Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks.

“We do need people to come, but we need people to be self-sufficient,” Iron Eyes said. “We need people to be disciplined.”

Iron Eyes also commented on the economic blockade affecting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and occupants of the water protector camps. “Morton County has not been held accountable. The governor has not been held accountable,” he said. “We demand that the blockade be lifted.”

Iron Eyes spoke with Truthdig contributor Donald Kaufman and explained the blockade in detail. “Several two-ton concrete blocks, National Guard vehicles, LRADs,” Iron Eyes said. “I mean, it looks like Gaza, you know what I mean?”

This economic sanction is not the only state-level action to hurt the cause of #NoDAPL demonstrators. Last week, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill that will let oil companies avoid reporting oil spills if a spill doesn’t exceed 420 gallons.

Groups and individuals are already moving to support the new wave of #NoDAPL action. Following Trump’s memorandums, a group of U.S. veterans launched a fundraiser for the water protectors.

“In the past two weeks the turmoil and uncertainty at Standing Rock has increased significantly,” according to the fundraiser page of Veterans Stand. “We stand in unity with our brothers and sisters in Standing Rock (and beyond) and our community is ready to mobilize.”

Journalist and civil rights activist Shaun King issued a call to action to support Standing Rock as part of his Injustice Boycott movement.

“In one day, Seattle’s City Council will decide if they will move forward and divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo. As you may know, Wells Fargo is a primary backer not only of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but of private prisons and so much other ugliness,” King said in an email blast to supporters. “We need to do everything we can to make sure this happens. We need to show Wells Fargo that we will NOT stand for injustice.”

King urged citizens to call and tweet Seattle council representatives to encourage them to cancel Seattle’s $3 billion contract.

And Malia Obama made headlines for taking part in a #NoDAPL demonstration at the Sundance Film Festival on the day Trump signed his pipeline memorandums.

The new round of support is helpful to water protectors who have camped out for months, enduring sanctions and North Dakota’s harsh winter. But #NoDAPL leaders are determined to fight the pipeline construction regardless of the level of outside backing they receive.

“We’re willing to stay here until it’s out of the ground or we’re dead or arrested,” Iron Eyes stated in his conversation with Kaufman. “This is about the integrity of all Americans’ constitutional rights and whether or not you have a right to free speech or the right to peaceably assemble.”

Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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