The standoff at Standing Rock in North Dakota over a proposed pipeline has garnered national attention in recent months. Celebrities have used their fame to bring more attention to the fight, most notably actress Shailene Woodley, who was arrested in October on charges of “criminal trespassing” while she was protesting.
But the fight to stop the pipeline project began before the national media started paying attention. Nomiki Konst, host of The Filter on SiriusXM Progress, traveled to North Dakota to witness what was happening firsthand and understand the origins of the standoff for her special, Stand with Standing Rock: My Journey with the Water Protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline.
While there, she met with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, who is the closest landowner to the proposed North Dakota Access pipeline. And Allard has a very personal reason for wanting to stop the pipeline — her son is buried on top of the hill where it would be built.
“In 2014, we got notice of Dakota Access proposing this pipeline within our tribe,” Allard explained to Konst. Allard quickly sprung into action, attending a meeting held by Dakota Access to discuss the plan.
“When the meeting was over there was a blonde headed woman from Dakota Access, and I walked up and I said — sometimes I just say things — I said, ‘Remember me, I’m going to be standing there. Because you are not putting a pipeline in next to my son’s grave.'”
“For me, everything started on just a pure personal, I’m not an activist, and maybe I should’ve been,” Allard added.
A group of individuals who had fought the Keystone XL Pipeline joined the cause and asked, ‘ What would you guys think about setting up a camp?’ And Allard offered up her land.
On April 1, the camp was officially set up.
“We put the word to all the Indian nations to come help us, and they all came,” Allard said. “They put the teepees up. They came and prayed. They blessed the ground. They brought the water. And the camp was started.”
Months after the camp had formed, Konst found herself “near the front lines on a hill on what they call Turtle Island,” witnessing a “frightening standoff” unfolding in front of her.
“There was militarized police force of unknown origin facing down native peoples and water protectors, weekend warriors and a host of other people who for whatever reason felt a calling to come to Standing Rock,” Konst explained. “Authorities are all lined up on the hill in a standoff with those who have activated. … Everybody’s got gas masks, the air is really tense. And here we go, now I see that the protesters are up at the hill right now. It’s pretty scary, actually.”
“It’s a vision of what you see in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan,” journalist Erin Schrode, who has been covering the #NoDAPL protests, toldo\ Konst. She, along with documentarian Josh Fox, discussed the use of militarized mace canisters and rubber rounds shot out of grenade launchers. One of those rounds hit Schrode when she conducting an interview.
“Those things can be lethal,” Fox said the use of rubber rounds by authorities. “I felt like I was watching Ghandi at the salt mines. America and its government and North Dakota lost all moral legitimacy, all legal legitimacy on the day that I witnessed those protectors in the water, just standing there being pepper sprayed over and over and over again. And when they would get pepper sprayed, the craziest thing would happen, they would cheer. And they were hurting, they would arrive on the other shore right in front of us.”
He continued, “There were tears streaming down their face, they’re incredibly in pain. Their faces are red, they’re burning and yet they’re smiling, they’re hugging each other they’re going, ‘We’re not going to fight back. We’re going to keep praying for these people.’ They say, ‘I am praying for you,’ to the cops. That’s what they say and it was remarkable, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Stand with Standing Rock: My Journey with the Water Protectors of the Dakota Access Pipeline hosted by Nomiki Konst premieres Friday at 9 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Progress, replaying Saturday & Sunday.
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