The direct-action leaders in the fight against Bakken are indigenous activists in North Dakota. Militant action already is underway along the Missouri River, led by indigenous Sioux from the Standing Rock Reservation, the onetime home of Sitting Bull. These activist Native Americans are heirs of the continent’s first human inhabitants, who always understood the need to live in harmony with the natural environment. The Standing Rock Sioux have set up a “Camp of the Sacred Stones,” a prayer and protest site to monitor and resist Dakota Access’ effort to lay pipe beneath the Missouri River. In the words of a camp spokesperson in April, the “proposed Dakota Access Pipeline” is “a direct life or death threat to the Dakota, Nakota and Lakota people. We must save sacred water for the future generation.” For many weeks now, tribal members and supporters from around the region and country have used the camp as a base from which to conduct peaceful protest marches, river flotillas and prayer groups. They have faced arrest by standing and sitting in the path of the pipeline, “ready to halt crews from drilling beneath the Missouri River and endangering the water source of Indian Nations with crude oil,” Brenda Norrell reports. Native American female warriors have blocked and occupied construction machinery. Dozens of indigenous “pipeline fighters” have been arrested, some in brutal fashion. An inter-tribal relay team of Native American youths even ran from Standing Rock to the White House this summer to deliver a No Bakken petition with 160,000 signatures. The Standing Rock Sioux have received solidarity and reinforcements from the Oglala Sioux at the legendary Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. As of Friday afternoon, the number of anti-pipeline activists in and around the camp had grown from an original 15 to over 1,000. Local and state police were setting up barricades and redirecting traffic to reduce the number of protesters, while a state police surveillance plane flew above. Drones and helicopters also buzzed overhead. No Prior First Nation Consent Anti-Bakken activist attorneys have discovered that one of (Dakota Access parent company) Energy Transfer Partners’ leading creditors and investors is the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Five and a half years ago, RBC pledged to honor the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by refusing to invest in development projects opposed by “First Nations” people. The declaration requires “free, prior and informed consent for development impacting Indian land, territories and waters.” Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director the Science and Environmental Health Network, says that while RBC’s pledge may not be legally actionable against Dakota Access, it is a valuable part of the moral and public relations case against the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American groups in Iowa and the Dakotas have clearly withheld consent to the partly RBC-funded Bakken pipeline. And last week, the tribe and the International Indian Treaty Council appealed for help to the United Nations, citing the declaration. Anti-pipeline activists in the upper Midwest and northern Great Plains have adopted the Sioux saying Mni wiconi: “Water is life.” It’s a fitting maxim in the river- and stream-filled state of Iowa, which is bordered by the great Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Peaceful civil disobedience to block construction is imminent in Iowa. At the very white and middle-class Iowa City Farmers Market two weekends ago, anti-Bakken organizers signed up people ready to face arrest. One of the activists and signatories is Richard Lamb, 73, a courteous, retired educational psychologist and Vietnam War veteran who owns a 300-acre farm that has already been partly torn up by Dakota Access. The farm has been in Lamb’s family — just one step removed from original Native American ownership — since the 1870s. Lamb is one of the 15 landowners suing the IUB, but he has also recently received civil disobedience training alongside fellow environmentalists. It’s no time for “Iowa nice.” Big Carbon is not bashful about pushing legal limits and offending the state’s famously polite “farm folks” along the way. The cowboy-boot-wearing officials of Dakota Access—rich guys out to ruin livable ecology—hope to build as much of the pipeline in Iowa as possible before a ruling comes down from the Polk County court. They don’t mind having their workers rip up farmers’ crops and trees along the way. In the days leading up to the electoral holy day that is the Iowa presidential caucus, the state was briefly home to a large number of Bernie Sanders-backing political visitors. They had out-of-state license plates and banners on the sides of their vans and SUVs proclaiming that “The Revolution Starts Here.” The slogan was printed inside an outline of the state of Iowa. Now is a good time for activists concerned about preserving livable ecology from the profit gluttony of capitalism to return to the upper Midwest for a different, more “revolutionary” kind of politics. The nation’s unelected dictatorship of money and oil knows very well that politics is about more than elections. The petro-oligarchs pursue their government-corrupting pillaging of the common good and profit-addicted poisoning of the well to fuel their never-ending growth on a year-round, 24/7 basis. You can contribute to the Sacred Stones protest camp here and to the Iowa Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition here. Your support matters…

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