The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock

Phil Little Thunder Sr. carries water from his home, the Rosebud Reservation, during a protest march at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Sept. 9, 2016. (Photo: Alyssa Schukar / The New York Times)Phil Little Thunder Sr. carries water from his home, the Rosebud Reservation, during a protest march at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, September 9, 2016. (Photo: Alyssa Schukar / The New York Times)

As thousands of Indigenous people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Native American tribes, and their allies continue their protest against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), corporate media have continued to focus almost exclusively on the presidential election. Most media ignored last week’s vicious attack on the Water Protectors, as they call themselves.

The construction of the pipeline would violate the human right to peace, the right of Indigenous peoples to practice their cultural traditions, and several federal statutes.

On October 27, more than 100 police from seven different states and the North Dakota National Guard, clad in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, arrived in MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicles], Humvees and an armored police truck. They defended Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the pipeline, and arrested 142 Water Protectors. That brings the total arrested since August to over 400. More than 40 people have been injured, and some have broken bones and welts from rubber bullets fired by officers.

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Ret. Army Col. Ann Wright, who spent four days at Standing Rock, reported: “Police used mace, pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bang grenades and bean-bag rounds against Native Americans who lined up on the highway.”

The 1,170-mile, $3.7 billion oil pipeline is scheduled to traverse North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. Slated to transport over 570,000 barrels of fracked oil daily, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just a half-mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s drinking water source. It could affect 28 tribes and millions of people.

An inevitable oil spill from the…

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