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Guest Blogger on DAPL: A Timeline for a Timeless American Tragedy

Guest Blogger on DAPL: A Timeline for a Timeless American Tragedy

I’m so excited to introduced guest blogger, Natasha, to yasminareality.com.  Natasha and I met at an open house mosque event that brought more than 400 community members together in Schaumburg, IL of all faiths and walks of life. The event brought together Americans who want to look past fear-mongering and hate and unite in our common values. One thing is for certain in these times where hatred abounds, people are coming together.  United, we most definitely stand.


Dakota Access Pipeline Oil: A Timeline for a Timeless American Tragedy

By Natasha Ruiz    11/25/2016

A few days ago after doing some serious wound-licking after the most divisive and wicked election in my lifetime —perhaps American history —my husband walked solemnly toward me with an outstretched iPhone.

“Here,” was all he could muster.

Assuming it was yet another horrifying detail of the President-elect’s cabinet choice or latest tweet about SNL, I groaned, “What now?”

To my horror, I saw the images from a live feed of my fellow Americans on a dark bridge being sprayed by water in 28 degrees Fahrenheit whilst being pelted by rubber bullets (later denied by Morton County Police) and assaulted with tear gas and/or pepper spray.

It was there.  Live. In the moment and raw.  Not footage from some documentary from 50+ years ago of the 1960s protests but happening in real time.

I felt helpless, overwhelmed and angry.  I felt ashamed to be American.

Protesting the Pipeline Oil

The protesters who were being so severely attacked were not protestors but self-proclaimed “protectors” of the Standing Rock Reservation.  The controversial, Dallas-based Dakota Pipeline will carry Bakken Oil over 1,170 miles from Stanely, North Dakota, cutting a diagonal line on the North Dakota map south of Bismarck entering Sioux City, Iowa and ending in Patoka, Illinois.  The Dakota Pipeline website boasts the pipeline is “a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner.”

However, the pipeline will clearly contaminate the drinking water, disrupt the local wildlife and violate sacred land, including a burial ground which was reserved for Native Americans since the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.  The treaty has been officially violated in 1877, 1889 and 1910. The pipeline is set to go under the river which brings water to the Standing Rock Reservation and thus a contamination to the reservation proper, 1/2 mile south of the proposed pipeline route.

dapl-mapAs I look at the patchwork map that offers insight to the remaining territory for the Native American and Dakota Access Pipeline, I am struck by two things. First, the sad fact that with all the land America stole from the Native American nations, all we left for them were these isolated, sparse territories.  Second, why has the pipeline avoided cutting through Minot, North Dakota?  If you look at the map, the pipeline goes directly west from Stanely to Williston, under the Missouri River and continues to cut southeast through North Dakota, south of Bismarck and under the Missouri River (again) which is just 1/2 mile north of Standing Rock reservation border.

Not only are they risking the clean water for the citizens in the reservation, but to me, it would appear as though great lengths were taken to keep the pipeline out of the Minot city limits.  If that is the case, this is more than a pipeline cost-effectiveness measure —this is a classic case of “NIMBY” — “Not In My Backyard” —most likely compounded by racism.

NIMBY is a term used by environmentalists when a community does not want certain developments within the vicinity of residential homes —including homeless shelters, factories, nuclear power plants and, in this case, a certain pipeline.  I wonder if part of the decision to route the pipeline away from Minot was due to NIMBY, whose census data reflects 90% white and a hub for four other pipeline contractors.

Standing Rock Timeline

Contextualizing the timeline is important.  While the history of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie violations shows a pattern of racism and flagrant disregard for land belonging to Native American tribes, the more recent events directly relating to the Dakota Pipeline Protests began in October 2014 and took a turn in early 2015.

In February 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sent a letter to the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) to start the pipeline permitting process.  The law stipulates that the USACE has to consult Native Americans (THPO) to get the “okay” so as not to violate the treaty. THPO requested archaeological survey which went completely ignored by the USACE.

By September 2015, it was clear USACE was circumventing the law to proceed with the pipeline.  To add insult to injury, the Corps published an environmental assessment, boasting there were no historic properties that would by affected by the pipeline. In reality, The EPA, U.S. Department of Interior  and the American Council on Historical Preservation all sent critical letters to the USACE denouncing the pipeline.

According to an article in Mother Jones Online, April 22, 2016 will be a day of infamy as the USACE decided on its own that there were “no historic properties” affected. By Summer 2016, the Corps issued a fast-track permit to expedite the construction.  Standing Rock filed an injunction to stop the fast-track permit; and, Energy Transfer Partners sued Standing Rock for blocking the construction.  Homeland Security Division Director, Greg Wilz, ordered the removal of drinking water used by protestors.

One of the darkest moments occurred on September 3, 2016, when Dakota Access bulldozers plowed a two-mile-wide and 150 foot-long path through Standing Rock Sioux sacred tribal burial grounds. The site was days away from having a resolution that would protect Standing Rock —but the Dakota Access destroyed the sacred site.

From September through late November, protesters were slammed with attack dogs, mace and pepper spray brought in by private security firms commissioned by Dakota Pipeline. Construction was halted; but, this time- the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior refused to authorize construction in the Lake Oahu area and asked the Energy Transfer Partners (Dakota Pipeline) to voluntarily cease to no avail.

In October, Senator Bernie Sanders issued a letter to President Obama requesting him to suspend the construction permit.  But this didn’t encourage Obama to put a halt on construction nor did it persuade the Energy Transfer from having law enforcement arrest hundreds of protestors for allegedly blocking the highway during protests.  The excessive force of the police, included strip-searches of the protestors in front of other officers, has been denounced by Amnesty International.

By October 27, police blocked the bridge at the site of the protestors and where the pipeline is set to be built. Protestors believed law enforcement agents and the Morton County Sheriff were blocking the bridge to keep them from advancing further.

On November 20, 2016, law enforcement agents trapped protestors at the bridge and proceeded to spray them with water in 28 degrees Fahrenheit, pelted them with rubber bullets, leveled concussion grenades and assaulted the protestors with tear gas. I watched live from the feed my husband shared with me.

The story is not over.  I do not know how it is going to end; but, I fear if this story is side-lined as it has so terribly been from mainstream news, Big Oil Fat Cats will win in the end.  But we must fight- because this story represents the moral imperative to uphold the treaty that was promised to the Native Americans 150 years ago; it represents fighting for the earth and clean water which is a right for everyone.  It must rally us all to end dependency on a fossil fuel that is finite and destroying the earth.  We must fight to defeat the “corporatocracy.”

Please consider donating goods or monetary gifts to the grassroots organization that are supporting Standing Rock. You may also share your views with the president, governor of North Dakota and the Morton County Sheriff.  The addresses and numbers are provided at the end of the article.

We are ALL Standing Rock.


What can you do to help?




Supplies, cash, or check donations can also be mailed to:

Sacred Stone Camp

P.O. Box 1011

Fort Yates, ND 58538


Tell these government leaders how you feel!

The White House                                            Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW                          205 1st Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20500                                 Mandan, ND 58554

Phone:(202) 456-1111                                     Phone: (701) 667-3330


Governor of North Dakota Jack Dalrymple

State of North Dakota

600 East Boulevard Avenue

Bismarck, ND 58505-0100

Phone (701) 328-2200


About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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