Message From #NoDAPL Activists Is at Odds With Standing Rock Tribe’s Position on Oil Development

Jan 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Two protestors hang from the rafters with a banner against the Dakota Pipeline at the game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline may have started with a camp established by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in rural south central North Dakota, but it’s a movement that’s gone national.

The most recent iterations were activists marching (unofficially) in the Rose Bowl Parade and protesters climbing into the superstructure of the Vikings stadium during a football game this weekend.

The latter incident was accompanied by a press statement saying the incident was done in solidarity with the Standing Rock Tribe.

“The pipeline’s route violates treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and poses a significant threat drinking water and the health of the Missouri river,” the organizers said.

The tribe needs to condemn this nonsense, for multiple reasons.

The message from the Vikings stadium stunt is that banks should divest from pipelines and other fossil fuel projects, but that’s not what the Standing Rock Tribe seems to want.

First, some of these incidents are illegal and unsafe. The extremists who have embedded themselves in the #NoDAPL movement have made it clear that they have little regard for the law or public safety, whether it’s trying to block railroad tracks with a burning truck or dangling over the crowd at a football game. These incidents are not helping Standing Rock’s cause. Unfortunately, the tribe has been reticent to condemn the behavior by these activists. That’s to their detriment.

Second, it’s not at all clear that the priorities of these activists line up with the tribe’s priorities. The message from the Vikings stadium stunt is that banks should divest from pipelines and other fossil fuel projects, but that’s not what the Standing Rock Tribe seems to want.

You don’t have to take my word for it. That’s what they’re saying in their their own words.

“We haven’t taken a stance against oil development or energy development,” a Standing Rock representative said last month after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. “We realize that’s part of the world today.”

“I want to help him make this nation great again, and I want to help give him assistance, advice on how we can do that together and not leave the first occupants of this land behind,” Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault said ahead of his tribe’s meeting with Trump. “We can do the pipelines, we can do oil development, energy development, but not off our backs again. That’s basically all I would share with him.”

That’s a very pragmatic stance by the tribe, but it’s at odds with the political zealotry on display at these #NoDAPL stunts done, supposedly, to advance the interests of Standing Rock.

It would behoove the tribe to correct the record, and stop letting these activists speak for them.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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