The #NoDAPL protests have been billed as an uprising of America’s indigenous peoples, but it can be hard to tell that sometimes given all the white left-wing activists who have joined the cause. Last week when I interviewed the deputy who has been working at the #NoDAPL riots he said some of the protesters were hurling racial taunts at Native American, black, and Hispanic law enforcement officers.
But it wasn’t Native American protesters doing the taunting. “The majority of the people I see out there were white people,” the deputy told me (audio).
He’s not the only one who sees it. It seems some of the Native American protesters in the #NoDAPL movement are getting a little fed up with hippies coming to North Dakota and treating the protest like some sort of festival:
People demonstrating at North Dakota’s Access Pipeline protest have expressed frustration at white demonstrators who are reportedly turning up to “colonise” the camp.
Concerns have been raised by protestors on social media, who claim that people are arriving at the Standing Rock demonstration for the “cultural experience” and treating it like Burning Man festival.
Protestor Alicia Smith wrote on Facebook: “On my way back from the camps. Need to get something off my chest that I witnessed and found very disturbing in my brief time there that I believe many others have started to speak up about as well.“White people are colonizing the camps. I mean that seriously. Plymouth rock seriously. They are coming in, taking food, clothing and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols.
“These people are treating it like it is Burning Man or The Rainbow Gathering and I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to those festivals.”
I suspect that this morning, with the realities of the North Dakota winter upon us, that there are far fewer festive hippies in the #NoDAPL camps.
The snow and the cold keeps the riff raff out, as the saying goes.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Vice, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault expressed some concern about the way the land is being treated at some of the protest camps:
We’ve seen a big community pop up over there (the camps at Standing Rock). I go down there and I look at the waste. There’s a lot of waste. It’s a distraction from the water. If we’re about this environment, we would be protecting Mother Earth. We wouldn’t be hurting her. And yet, we’re punching holes all over down there (pitching tents), in Mother Earth. That’s a sacred place. But there’s no regard. It’s about instant gratification. When I look at that camp, I always think: What’s going to happen when this is over? Who’s going to clean that up? Who’s going to put that land back to its natural state? Before this entire movement started, that was some of the most beautiful land around. There was a place down there where eagles, over 100 eagles would come and land. There were game down there—deer, pheasants, elk, geese. Now, it’s occupied by people. And when masses of people come to one place, we don’t take care of it.
So how do we make it better? I heard that they’re digging pits down there for their human waste. That’s a flood zone. So when the floodwaters come up, that waste is going to be contaminating the water. We’re no different than the oil company, if we’re fighting for water. What’s going to happen when people leave? Who has to clean it up? Who has to refurbish it? It’s going to be us, the people who live here. Not only that, but there are relationships that are being damaged because of unlawful actions, violent actions, violent behavior against law enforcement. Law enforcement lives here. And we live here. The water protectors are going to be gone. When this is all done, I have to go up and clean that up. We have to reestablish our relationships then. So this is a good thing and I welcome everybody because we’re all standing up for our water, but are we really mindful of what we’re doing? Because, what’s going to happen when this is done.
Unfortunately, despite Archambault’s perfectly understandable concern over the way protesters are treating the land, he doesn’t seem all that inclined in assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers in their efforts to move the protesters off that land.
Which has been a problem from the beginning with these protests. There is little in the way of accountability for the protesters in terms of how they behave themselves. Archambault is in a position to bring that accountability to the movement he helped create, but he doesn’t do it, and most in the media seem more interested in carrying water for the protest movement’s narrative about fascist cops and evil oil companies.
UPDATE: Suddenly this tweet seems relevant again:
— Rob Port (@robport) September 10, 2016