24-year-old member of the Lower Brule Sioux Nation in South Dakota. The reservation sits on the banks of the Missouri River.
Just minutes before the the police raid on the camp in North Dakota, here in New York City Native American youth flooded the campaign headquarters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to demand that she oppose the Dakota Access pipeline. Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has come out against the pipeline. But Clinton has so far refused to take a stance. "We wanted to bring our songs and prayer to tell [Clinton] that the Native youth of this nation do not want this pipeline," says our guest Daniel Grassrope of the Lower Brule Sioux Nation in South Dakota, who was part of the group who set up a tipi in the entrance to Clinton’s office.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, just minutes before the police raid on the camp in North Dakota, here in New York City, Native American youth flooded the campaign headquarters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to demand that she oppose the Dakota Access pipeline. Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has come out against the pipeline, but Clinton has so far refused to take a stand.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, in an email to Democracy Now!, Clinton campaign spokesperson Tyrone Gayle wrote, quote, "Secretary Clinton has been clear that she thinks all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects. Now, all of the parties involved—including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes—need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely," unquote.
Well, for more, we’re joined by Daniel Grassrope of the Lower Brule Sioux Nation in South Dakota. He was part of the Native American youth who flooded into Clinton’s campaign headquarters. You built a tipi there in Brooklyn in the campaign headquarters, Daniel?
DANIEL GRASSROPE: Yes, we did. We wanted to demonstrate a cultural event in Hillary’s campaign office. And we wanted to bring our songs and prayer to tell her to oppose this pipeline, that the youth, the future leaders of this nation and the future occupiers of this nation, do not want this pipeline, because it will affect our water.
AMY GOODMAN: A group of you flew in from Standing Rock?
DANIEL GRASSROPE: Yes. There was 11 of us that flew in from Standing Rock.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And no one from the campaign was willing to sit down and talk with you at all?
DANIEL GRASSROPE: No one from the campaign wanted to talk to us. We called out for leaders from her campaign management. And the security officers didn’t want to take the letter that we’re demanding to oppose this pipeline. And also the secretary at the front desk didn’t want to take the letter, as well.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the importance of this struggle to you and other young Native Americans across the country?
DANIEL GRASSROPE: The struggle, well, we’re trying to protect our water, and right now it’s being threatened by this pipeline. And everyone in the Native nation knows that water is our first medicine. Water brings life to everything—the plants, the trees, the four-legged, you know, the animals that we eat, everything. It brings life to us, in general. And it’s just—you know, it’s very important that we have water.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to a quote we read in the headlines of Bill McKibben—Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org—after he read the statement that the Clinton campaign put out. And it is the first time that Hillary Clinton, at least her campaign, has put out a statement on the Dakota Access pipeline. Bill McKibben said, "@HillaryClinton managed to make a statement about the Dakota Pipeline that literally says nothing. Literally." Daniel, what about their response, that they did put out a statement? And do you think it’s satisfactory?
DANIEL GRASSROPE: The response that I get, she’s telling people that—on the ground at the—North Dakota, that everyone respects the demonstrators’ rights to peacefully protest. And as protectors of land, we are peaceful. We are there peacefully. We’re not there to violent or engage in any violent activity. We are there to stop this pipeline through prayer, and that’s what we’ve been doing from the beginning.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you organize to come out here, to come to the national headquarters of Hillary Clinton from North Dakota, from Standing Rock? And you came to North Dakota from South Dakota.
DANIEL GRASSROPE: There’s actually organizers beyond us that had that idea and brought it to us. And we are just, you know, happy to be a part of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to go right now upstate New York. Daniel Grassrope, thanks so much for being with us.