Resistance, Solidarity Lives On at Standing Rock Against Oil Pipeline

Peaceful protests continue as Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies continue to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). 

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, about the history of Native resistance and how it connects to the DAPL protest.

The Standing Rock Sioux are suing the federal government to halt the construction of the 1,160-mile DAPL pipeline, claiming that not only were they were not properly consulted, as treaties require, but that hallowed lands are being violated and that the pipeline, spanning four states, will have a devastating ecological impact on wildlife and the water supply in the area.

​"If the tribe doesn’t want it, then their position has to be honored,” Banks said. 

“And if any tribe feels that there are sacred sites or burial sites at risk, then they will move to protect those sites…we have the ultimate authority."

Banks added that he is "shocked that the Obama Administration has looked the other way," as peaceful protesters continue to be unnecessarily brutalized by private security and local police. 

"I can understand when the government is being run by corporations, corporations will always win. 

In their eyes they have already won, but in our historical stance, we will win on this one."

Banks said that he is surprised and heartened by support protesters are receiving from both domestic and international groups, noting that over "300 nations" are supporting Standing Rock.  

"I’m 80 years old, and I’ve not see this kind of solid support…

Standing Rock is a small tribe, but here it has worldwide support. 

And I’m very proud to be part of that support in taking on the Dakota Access Pipeline." 

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker noted that progressive movements often happen in unexpected places, citing Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama. 

"You never know when things are going to jump off," he remarked. 

"A single spark starts a prairie fire."

Becker asked if the increase in police violence against protestors would "stiffen resistance" and lead to a more militant response. 

Banks recalled a standoff between AIM members and the FBI in 1973, in which police initiated an unprovoked shootout. 

Banks responded by suggesting that the protesters will continue to use whatever methods are available. 

"I believe, as we did in ‘73, that if we give out enough information about what’s happening here then the people will continue to pour in their support. 

That’s what we’re hoping for," he said.

Published time 21:38 Toronto