In South Dakota, two Indigenous activists face criminal charges over their roles in opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — which President Biden halted on his first day in office. The pair are among a small number of water and land defenders who’ve vowed to maintain an encampment on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation near the pipeline route until all pipeline infrastructure is removed. Jasilyn Charger faces up to a year in prison for an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. And Oscar High Elk faces up to 22 years in prison for what his supporters say are trumped-up charges, including aggravated assault on law enforcement. This is Oscar High Elk’s aunt speaking from the courthouse last week.
Vivian High Elk: “The ability to bring charges against citizens has always been abused and overused when it comes to Indigenous response to the protection of our relatives and their habitats and their drinking sources, which includes all four-legged, all two-legged, all plantlife, all watersheds and all Indigenous unceded territories.”