The Challenge of Standing Rock:
December 2, 2016

A long but important post!

For many, there is confusion around exactly what is happening at Standing Rock and the Dakota Pipeline Protest.

When one steps back, the issues become fairly plain and simple even thought there are many players and many stories.

It begins with a pipeline company which is funded and supported by a significant number of the world's foremost banks and numerous mega corporations, who wants to cut costs by pumping fracked oil across the Dakotas instead of using other means. While the oil originates in the United States, much of the profits actually go to international partners. It is also important to know that pumping the oil once the project is completed will not significantly add jobs for American workers. This is all about money going to the top and not to the average citizen!

There is also a clear line between pipeline owners and the ownership of some of the major news organizations. Hence mainstream news on this protest has been severely quashed!

Just consider this. An average of 5,000 people have occupied the Standing Rock protest site for over six months, with weekly and often daily lobbing of tear gas, concussion grenades, barrages of rubber bullets, water cannons, constant helicopter and air recon by the pipeline security and local law enforcement, and the spraying of unknown chemicals on protestors from unmarked aircraft. Hundreds of unarmed citizens have required medical care or hospitalization, and millions of people have contacted their representatives or directed petitions to the President, and yet with all of that, there have only been a couple of news reports from major sources. This in itself is a huge red flag, no matter who is right or wrong. Something sneaky is going on behind the scenes.

Join these circumstances with the fact that incoming President Elect, Donald Trump, has publicly stated numerous times that he will get even with Native Americans for building casinos which cut into his huge gambling empire. Not a good sign of unbiased support from the incoming administration.

To give the President Elect credit, he recently transferred his own personal investments in the Dakota Pipeline project into other holdings that are not as closely connected to the current controversy, but which are still questionable?

On the other side of this standoff are the Native American tribes of seven nations who originally owned the land in the area before it was forcefully taken under law guided by the auspices of the 1500's Papal Decree of the Doctrine of Discovery, wherein Christians were authorized to take all lands belonging to the Native Americans because they did not have souls.

In the governing treaty that followed, the Native American's land ownership was significantly reduced in exchange for a specific series of rights by the United States Government granting them both sovereignty and protection under the Fort Laramie Treaty.

The land in question is in legal dispute, with Native Americans claiming it to be unceded Native American territory.

Beyond that, the United States Congress granted oil, gas, and mineral rights to the Native Americans in a 1958 act of Congress, in exchange for the Native Americans letting them build the dam which created the lake which the pipeline company is currently trying to drill under.

In all past legal legal disputes in the US, ownership of the oil, gas, and mineral rights, has always meant that the owners of those rights, own the land below ground and access to it no matter who owns the land on the surface. A significant point weighing in on the Native American side!

The Native Americans are making valid legal claims to both the land in dispute, and to the ownership of the land below the lake which the pipeline company is pushing to drill through.

Beyond the obvious legal challenges, there are also moral issues in question. The pipeline was originally supposed to go through the city of Bismarck North Dakota, but government officials and scientists blocked that path, saying that the pipeline posed a significant threat to both human, wildlife, and environmental concerns, and that it was also likely to pollute or poison the city's water supply and threaten the lives of the city's citizens. Consequently, the decision was made to run the pipeline adjacent to the Native American reservation and water supply instead, claiming that there were no environmental or pollution concerns for them. Clearly, there are some major implications there!

The protest has gone on for quite some time now, and in a powerful move, the United States Army Corps of Engineers pulled the easement from the pipeline company a month ago leaving them no legal right to continue drilling. But the pipeline company made the determination that they will proceed illegally with their project, weighing that the potential fines of $29 Million dollars for violating the easement is a cheap investment considering their cost benefit analysis of potential
Profits. This is similar to the stance that British Petroleum and Deepwater Horizon took prior to the Gulf Oil Spill that threatened the entire planet!

So, the current situation is that the North Dakota law enforcement is supporting known illegal drilling by the pipeline company, while reporting that they are protecting citizens from the illegal actions of the protestors.

Throughout the process, local law enforcement and the North Dakota Governor's office has continually used excessive force against the protestors, and has clearly sided with the pipeline company.

Now 2,100 United States Veterans are converging on the site to protect and support the protestors, citing their sworn military oath to defend the citizens of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic! The soldiers, all combat hardened vets who have put their lives on the line to defend the US Constitution and the rights of all of our people, have universally identified the pipeline company and those supporting it to be an enemy to these principles and the citizens who warrant protection under our constitution. It is also important to note that many more veterans applied to join this contingent, but were asked to stand down for the time being.

Prior to the veteran's announcement to join and protect the Water Protectors, the Governor of North Dakota had ordered all supplies, food, water, and heating sources and all medical aid to be blocked and cut off from the protestors, including the Red Cross and Doctors Without Boarders, citing that his actions were directed at protecting the health and safety of the protestors. But with the realization that over 2,000 seasoned veterans will be arriving to take on anyone who tries to enforce that, the Governor announced yesterday that his clearly articulated orders were really a misunderstanding, and that he will lift the ban on support for the citizens gathered at the protest site.

To truly understand the significance and symbolism here, one must recognize that the force of veterans descending to protect the protestors is larger than our deployment of soldiers to Syria! This is a huge deal!

One can draw their own conclusions from the information I have provided as to who is right or wrong or what should or should not be done, but with the cloak of mystery parted, and the lack of real unbiased news reports, it seems clear to me, that this is a stand between the mega corporations and the super rich, and the ordinary common person. And it is also a stand by indigenous peoples stating that it cannot continue to be the case that they continue to keep their agreements with the United States Government, but as is very well documented, the US government seldom honors the agreements they sign, especially if there is money in it!

There are now millions of people nationally and internationally in support of the Native Americans and their call for real Justice. This doesn't specifically support their claims, but it should be a wake up call to us all. Corporations are now creating their own armies and accumulating tremendous wealth, and they are willing to direct huge forces and funds to do as they will, either lawfully or illegally.

Learn more about the full story of the protest at Standing Rock, and press for there to be a halt to the violence there on the side of the local law enforcement and pipeline company. There have been reports of some rocks and bottles thrown at law enforcement over the months, and several fires have been lit out in the middle of nowhere which law enforcement claim were initiated by a few protesters. But the overall message of the Native American Elders and those directing the protest have consistently been only actions of peaceful unarmed protest.

As of today, the pipeline company continues to drill illegally 24/7, and no one on the law enforcement side is stopping them. All resources are being directed against the protestors, not the pipeline.

Contact your news agencies and ask them to report both sides of the protest. Contact your representatives and the White House to ask for an intervention until the legal issues can be worked out and the full truth of this situation becomes public.

Every voice counts!

Patrick McCollum