- Chase Iron Eyesactivist and lead attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project and an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Tribe.
- Dallas Goldtoothorganizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday it will greenlight the final phase of construction of the pipeline. Amnesty International called the announcement “an unlawful and appalling violation of human rights.” In recent months, police have launched an escalating and violent crackdown against the resistance at Standing Rock. Last week, more than 70 people were arrested after militarized police raided a new resistance camp set up on historic Sioux treaty land. Among those arrested was award-winning Pueblo journalist Jenni Monet, who was on assignment for Indian Country Media Network.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation about the fight against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will greenlight the final phase of construction of the pipeline. Amnesty International called the announcement an “unlawful and appalling violation of human rights.” In recent months, police have launched an escalating and violent crackdown against the resistance at Standing Rock. Last week, more than 70 people were arrested after militarized police raided a new resistance camp set up on historic Sioux treaty land. Among those arrested was award-winning Pueblo journalist Jenni Monet, who was on assignment for Indian Country Media Today.
For more, we’re joined by two guests. In Chicago, Dallas Goldtooth is with us, organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network. And in Vancouver, we’re joined by Standing Rock Sioux member Chase Iron Eyes, who was also arrested this past week during the raid.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Chase Iron Eyes, with this news that the easement will be granted for the final building of the pipeline under the Missouri River, your response?
CHASE IRON EYES: I think it’s something that we expected all along. It rings true, and it vindicates those of us who on December 4th declared that the denial of the easement by the Obama administration was a hollow and meaningless victory. And now the Trump administration is making it very clear that they intend to destroy our only drinking water resource on the Standing Rock Nation and the tens—the 10 million people who live south of the proposed pipeline. Drilling can begin any minute. And we are looking at the potential of an armed raid or a forcible raid after February 22nd, when the Army Corps said that they would declare us trespassers on our own land, the same as the United States Army said they would declare us hostile if we didn’t return to the reservations in 1875.
AMY GOODMAN: So what are your plans?
CHASE IRON EYES: Well, right now, there are probably 400 to 500 people, water protectors, north of the 1889 boundary, that was the result of an illegal annexation of treaty territory by the United States against not just the Standing Rock Nation, but the entire Lakota Nation and members of the Great Sioux Nation, the Oceti Sakowin. And so, other tribal governments are weighing in and supporting a fight on the ground, as they have a right to do. There are 400 to 500 people north of the Cannonball River in the contested zone, in the treaty zone, in the place where, according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, we are not supposed to be. And they are going to stand their ground. There are already people en route to join this peaceful, prayerful, nonviolent exercise of our human, treaty, constitutional and civil rights, which are at stake, which are constantly being encroached upon by what seems to be Trump tyranny.
We talk about the arrests. The arrests are above 700 in number. This includes journalists, including yourself, Amy. It includes—it includes the brutalizations of a young woman named Sophia Wilansky. It includes the loss of eyesight of another young lady. It includes the permanent maiming by at-close-range deployment of less lethal bullets. It includes dog attacks. It includes water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, the negligent or intentional risking of human lives. It includes the lying—the Morton County law enforcement agencies lying about the criminal conduct. And so, there is a lot happening. There is a lot that they need to be held accountable for.
And not only are people north of the Cannonball River, but there are people on the Standing Rock Reservation already on the ground. I know that there is a difference of opinion, but we stand united with the Standing Rock Nation in wanting the most highly militarized blockade in North Dakota history to be lifted, because it’s functioning as a successful economic sanction. It’s the equivalent of when they withheld rations from our people when we would not agree to the dictates of the United States government and the agents at that time. They would just—the hand that feeds you is the hand that can starve you.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in—
CHASE IRON EYES: And that’s what’s happening right now.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who’s joining us from Chicago. Dallas, can you talk about the protests that are happening, the Seattle Council saying they would divest from Wells Fargo, and other actions that are taking place now? Your plans?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Well, thank you very much, Amy, for having me on. And first and foremost, I want to say—send acknowledgment and appreciation to our indigenous women and youth, who have been leading this effort, who may not be necessarily reflected in these interviews, but they are truly the backbone of this movement and have been leading us through this entire process.
You know, what started out as literally 20 to 30 people in the middle of the prairie in this grassroots fight against this mega—this multibillion-dollar corporation has culminated into what just happened the other day in Seattle, where the city made the announcement that they are going to divest over $3 billion out of this company—or out of Wells Fargo, who funds this company. I think that shows the power of unified action. It shows the power of mobilization. And it shows the power of us, as the people, and what we can do when we really put our energy and focus on building a better, sustainable world.
And so, right now, we have a call to action across the planet, and specifically on Turtle Island, also known as so-called North America, for people to take to the streets, to rise up and rise with Standing Rock in mass mobilization, to support this effort and this fight against the abrogation of indigenous rights, the complete disregard for the law of the land. So we have actions happening in Washington, D.C., later on this afternoon. We’re going to be having actions in Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, Denver, Albuquerque, New York City. And folks that really want to follow along with that, they can check out EveryDayOfAction.org. It’s an action hub that a lot of the indigenous groups who have been fighting and who have been on the ground in Standing Rock created, so people have a centralized place for information about solidarity actions happening across this country. So that’s EveryDayOfAction.org. And that’s where—the point of all of this—
AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: We’re fighting against a system here, and so we need to do this together. We have to rise up together, in order to—
AMY GOODMAN: Of course, we will continue to follow this. I know, Dallas, you’re flying to Washington, D.C., for that action today. Dallas Goldtooth with Indigenous Environmental Network, of the Dakota and Dine people. Chase Iron Eyes with Lakota People’s Law Project and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.