In reflection of the shift in Standing Rock purposes and goals and notes on Cheyenne River Tribe.

I learned in August 2016 of Standing Rock. It was a small group of First Peoples trying to protect their drinking water and area around the reservation they had been forced onto. I learned of the prayer walks, lockdowns to equipment, and other non-violent actions coming from the camps. It was touching to hear the call be heard by so many other tribes and peoples from all over the world. Delegates were sent, groups were dispatched, flags were delivered, letters, sacred medicines, and all kinds of showings of support and solidarity.

A key message I heard in my time here was: “This is all of our drinking water” or “This is the drinking water of x million people, so we should all be here”. I find it heartbreaking to consider the narrative as the Spring thaw comes. Now I see people who had given up their lives to come in support be told that they are guests and no longer welcome. What happened to this being all of “our drinking water”? I see a shift in the Chairman of Standing Rock: once being arrested at an action to now preferring to keep the battle in the court system.

I thought it was a reasonable position to lower the activism when the easement was denied in December, but now with a reversal of the easement decision expected within the next 2 weeks (quoted prediction of an attorney for the Standing Rock Tribe): the tribe continues to prefer a legal battle. The drill pad is fully stocked with the drill in position to start boring under the river within hours of an easement approval. If ever a time to continue the camps or call the camps back, now is the time. But for some reason, the tribe in coordination with the BIA and other police/military forces plans to disband the camps within approximately 2 weeks.

I do not know if their faith in the legal system is that strong or if there are other complicating factors. Is the tribe concerned with the potential legal responsibilities from the dangers within the camps? Is there some strained connections between the tribe and the U.S. government being leveraged to force their hand? Or is the age-old marriage of bribery and representative government taking its toll on the principled people still camped along the Missouri?

I see much dissension and angles. I am also aware of the Cheyenne River Tribe holding out in a significant way in the camps. They seemingly have taken the lead and it is worth noting that they have no casinos on their reservation. They also have tribal police instead of U.S. Government BIA and they alone as a reservation make up 4 of the 7 bands of Lakota. They are considered by some as the last resisters with the U.S. Army’s war on the Lakota way of life in the late 1800s.