In late September, the American Friends Service Committee sent a delegation of six people to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s prayer camps at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers. The delegation traveled out of concern for the Tribe and in solidarity with the tremendous gathering of water protectors from across Indian Country now taking a peaceful, prayerful stand to save the water that flows through Standing Rock reservation and their unceded treaty land. This delegation spent four days traveling among the camps and listening to those protecting the water from Dakota Access pipeline construction. Today AFSC is releasing the delegation’s report, which supports the following immediate actions:
American Friends Service Committee asks for the immediate intervention of the Department of Justice, including a full investigation of the Morton County Sheriff’s department policies, procedures, and actions in engagement with the protectors as well as their treatment in the county jails throughout the state. We also recommend that Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act be reviewed and amended to adhere to the United Nations standard of “free, prior and informed consent” and that all other federal consultation guidelines with Tribes be amended to reach this standard.
AFSC has sought for generations to amplify Native peoples’ call for the U.S. to fulfill its treaty obligations and recognize inherent tribal sovereignty. We see construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline as another chapter in a history of the U.S. Government violating tribal sovereignty and its trust responsibility by allowing hazardous, environmentally destructive activities on tribal lands with irreversible impacts on cultural places, the health and wellbeing of Native peoples, and the environment. AFSC stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the extraordinary gathering of Native and allied water protectors on Oceti Sakowin treaty land.
Since our delegation has returned, the situation on the ground has become mortally dangerous. Law enforcement from multiple jurisdictions have converged on Oceti Sakowin treaty land. The world has witnessed the way in which the police forcibly removed the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota from the peace camp they constructed to protect the graves of their ancestors. Immediately following this forced relocation, the area indicated by the Tribe as both a burial ground and a sacred site was excavated to lay the pipeline. We are also aware that a number of jail and human rights standards have been violated by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II reminds us that this water is not a resource, it is a relative. AFSC is humbled by the commitment and discipline of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota water protectors, who are bearing witness in the face of strong arm tactics by the police and national guard to advance their challenge to multinational oil companies, the U.S. federal government, and all of us through peaceful prayer and ceremony.