Last Thursday, I watched hours of live video from the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock. Over 200 police entered the camp in full military gear, rifles drawn, with about 20 armored vehicles, to find and arrest water protectors who were unarmed, nonviolent and prayerful. It looked like a war zone, except the “enemies” were U.S. citizens.

Important points were missing from the Associated Press coverage published in the Portland Press Herald (“Pipeline camp cleared, 46 arrested,” Page A3, Feb. 24).

We can’t forget that the Army Corps of Engineers had just begun an environmental review that was cut off by President Trump. The Dakota Access pipeline is a direct threat to the water of the Missouri River. An analysis has found that Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco had 35 pipeline accidents in 2015 and 2016. We can’t drink oil.

The people at Oceti had been working to clean up the site. In December, thousands converged at Standing Rock to show their support, and then a snowstorm inundated the camp. People had to leave, their belongings buried under snow and ice. Camp members were not given enough time to complete their cleanup. Oceti isn’t the only camp at Standing Rock; other camps continue for water protectors.

The story you published mentions that “protesters maintain the camp was on land that rightfully belongs to American Indians under old treaties.” The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 says the land belongs to the Sioux nations, ratified by Congress on Feb. 16, 1869. According to our Constitution, all treaties are part of “the supreme Law of the land.” The United States has broken every treaty it made with indigenous nations, but that does not make it legal.

Now the fight goes to court, helped by everyone who withdraws money from the banks that have invested in the pipeline. Water is life.

The Rev. Dr. Myke Johnson


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