Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty

Mainstream media would have most of us believe that the current struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota is all about clean water – that its only focus is stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from running through Indigenous reservation land. And, yes, it is about these things. But while such a narrative may create “hot headlines,” it fails to capture the full truth and essence of what‘s really going on there.

On September 9 through September 12, our Workers World Party delegation gathered with 8,000 others to support the national call to mobilize for support.

Resistance, unity and mass consciousness

Shortly after our flight into Bismarck, North Dakota, we drove directly to the State Capitol Building for a local protest there.  I began to realize that this was much bigger than just a fight for water. Is water a central component to this struggle? Yes! Yes, it is. But as local members of the Indigenous community began to gather, as school-aged Native youth began marching down the street in pouring rain, I quickly realized that the current developments at Standing Rock were not only politically and culturally significant, but that this moment in time was becoming historic. This “local protest” had indeed become monumental.

Representatives of Indigenous Nations began pouring into Bismarck from all over the country. In spite of the rain, more and more people just kept coming. A protest had become a reunion, a reunion for some who had never even…

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