Tag Archives: Lakota

Aggressive Action Against DAPL Protesters

The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline carries on as construction continues amid requests from the Obama Administration to halt the project. As hostilities grow between campers and police, the arrest count is rising to an alarming rate with more than 260 arrests in the past two months.

On Indigenous People’s Day, Oct. 8th, 27 protesters were arrested for trespassing, reckless endangerment and engaging in a riot, despite that they were actually partaking in peaceful prayer. Among those arrested included actress and environmental activist, Shailene Woodley, who recorded the events in a live stream via Facebook and showed police fully-equipped with riot gear and military vehicles.

Just this past weekend, another 127 protesters were arrested in a demonstration with 300 people at the construction site.

The militarization of North Dakota police has built up to a massive display of force since Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency in mid-August. Surveillance flights follow protesters, and police set up multiple roadblocks and checkpoints to prevent more from joining the Oceti Sakowin camp, by checking IDs and questioning drivers.

Some protesters were attacked with police dogs and pepper spray last month. Energy Transfer hired G4S, a controversial private security organization known for servicing prisons. They have assisted officials in blocking roads and surveilling protesters.

Police support in Morton County is expected to grow as stated in a press conference by Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier earlier this month. Ironically, Kirchmeier is worried about “outside agitators” when an unnecessary amount of force is being brought in from out-of-state in opposition of a peaceful protest.

Along with the militarization, the charges against the water protectors have risen to an extreme, with many individuals arrested for trespassing and inciting riots despite Energy Transfer having no right to construct along Lake Oahe in the first place, as it violates federal and tribal laws meant to protect the land from being taken from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

In a recent report by the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), a group of attorneys providing legal consultation for the water protectors stated that the police’s tactics have been found abusive and in violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights. The police have also alerted local farmers to “arm themselves” should anyone trespass their land, and officers have stopped wearing their name-plates and badge numbers which is illegal for a North Dakota State Trooper to do. This is supposedly to prevent threats against their homes and families, but given the brutality that has occurred within the past few months and that an officer’s personal information can be difficult to obtain it’s really just an excuse to avoid the consequences to their actions.

Among those arrested include tribal leaders like Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, Dave Archambault, who revealed in an interview with “Democracy Now!” that he was strip searched after he was charged on Aug. 15th for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor offense. Charges were dropped against him Sept. 16 by a federal judge in Bismarck.

“I thought it was humorous, because I had to take all my clothes off, and then they wanted to check my braid for—and I don’t have a very thick braid for any weapons to hide, but so I thought it was pretty crazy and unnecessary to do a strip search and to check my hair,” Archambault recounted in the interview.

He also noted that of the five states the pipeline is set to run through, it is only North Dakota that is receiving extra police force from out of state. With the massive amount of arrests from this past weekend, Archambault is disappointed at the disregard of First Amendment rights from state and congressional politicians as well as Governor Dalrymple.

Their lack of leadership and commitment to creating a dialogue towards a peaceful solution reflects not only the unjust historical narrative against Native Americans, but a dangerous trend in law enforcement tactics across America,” said Archambault in a statement to North Dakota’s local NBC news.

Freedom of press was recently put in jeopardy when “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman who reported protesters being pepper sprayed and having dogs sicced on them on September 3rd  faced trespassing and riot charges five days afterwards. They were dropped this past week due to lacking evidence or motivation. Meanwhile journalists from Unicorn Riot continue to be arrested for their coverage of the movement.

North Dakota State Attorney Ladd Erickson argued in favor of the charges by indicating to newspapers like Grand Forks Herald and The Bismarck Tribune that Goodman wasn’t a journalist because her report was biased in “justifying the protest actions.”

But a journalist’s job is to report on current events, especially when human rights abuses are involved, and there is absolutely no justification to use attack dogs on peaceful protesters.

The protest against DAPL needs to be documented as it is still going strong, and there are still ongoing violations of federal law and First Amendment rights. The claims of riots and violence only try to discredit why the water protectors are there to begin with, and it disregards any wrongdoings done by Energy Transfer and police force within the past year. As indicated by Archambault, without any open dialogue toward compromise these problems will only get worse in a never-ending cycle of injustice.

The land rightfully belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux, and Energy Transfer violated historical preservation, environmental protection, and tribal sovereignty in order to build a pipeline. Energy Transfer needs to stop grasping at straws to justify construction when they are the only ones breaking any laws.

Donate to Legal Support for the Water Protectors: https://cldc.org/2016/10/20/in-standing-rock-the-cops-are-out-of-control/


Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40969298@N05/29485116115/in/photostream/

South Dakota officials arrest woman who spoke out about state-sanctioned kidnapping

Lakota People's Law Project attorney Danny Sheehan gives Janice Howe the 1,200 letters of support from people who read the National Public Radio (NPR) series "Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families." You can watch a video of Danny giving Janice the letters here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gji9F23ssUY
Lakota People’s Law Project attorney Danny Sheehan gives Janice Howe the 1,200 letters of support from people who read the National Public Radio (NPR) series “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families.” You can watch a video of Danny giving Janice the letters here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gji9F23ssUY

Set against a barren, poverty-stricken reservation in the hills of South Dakota, a National Public Radio (NPR) story published in 2011 shed light on a problematic issue that has been happening to Native Americans across the country — state-sanctioned kidnapping of Native children. Now, one of the story’s main sources has been arrested by the very officials whom she spoke out against.

Janice Howe, 54, had her grandchildren taken away by the Department of Social Services (DSS) after a social worker said her daughter was going to be arrested for drugs. Two of the four children were buckled into a DSS car and driven away, but Howe’s daughter was never arrested.

The children had been gone for a year and a half. Finally, Howe went before the Crow Creek Tribal Council to tell her story. The meeting ended with a resolution to charge the state with kidnapping if it did not return the children. A few weeks later, a car pulled up to Howe’s home and the two girls came running for their grandmother.

The girls had forgotten their native dance. One girl said that after she wet her pants, her foster parents told her to wear her underwear on her head. At this point, the DSS agent told Howe that the children’s return was only a trial run, and that they could be taken again at any time. What Howe and thousands of NPR listeners judged as carrying out the parental duty to protect one’s children, the DSS viewed as a subversive move to challenge its authority.

Four years after the NPR story broke, Howe was arrested. The charges? Perjury for writing her two sons’ names on a petition she was collecting signatures for in 1999 and forging checks while working as a nurse in 2000. Howe pleaded guilty to a single felony count in each of the two cases, the charges for which were filed in 2002. South Dakota prosecutors waited 13 years to see to Howe’s charges.

The fact that they waited so long to handle her case demonstrates how minor they thought these charges were. It was not until a few years after the NPR story broke that South Dakota realized how influential Howe’s voice had become in the fight for justice for Native Americans and their children. Once the NPR story horrified thousands about the corruption in the state, South Dakota officials knew that one way to subdue the growing national movement that would sabotage their profits would be to take down one of the movement’s most well known whistleblowers.

A spokeswoman for the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office said, “there’s nothing politically motivated here,” in a Washington Post article. However, Howe’s family insists that the arrest is Attorney General Marty Jackley’s way of retaliation.

“It is Jackley. He’s the one who wants to get payback from her,” said Howe’s husband Louis Adrian, according to the Capital Journal.

The idea that Howe’s arrest is politically motivated is not unfounded. In 2010, Richard and Wendy Mette were arrested for raping and physically abusing their adopted Lakota daughters. Richard Mette often made the girls choose between “a beating or BJ.” The case was spearheaded by an Assistant State’s Attorney Brandon Taliaferro and Court Appointed Special Advocate Shirley Schwab.

The DSS investigated the Mettes twice before, once in 2001 and again in 2007. Pornography was found openly around the house both times, but the Mettes were still allowed to keep the girls. A few months into the case, it was announced that the case would involve a lawsuit against the DSS for failing to prevent any further abuse after the investigations. Almost immediately, Taliaferro received a direct order from Attorney General Jackley that he would be fired from his position and an investigation and lengthy legal battle was launched against both Taliaferro and Schwab.

The charges made against Howe are petty and insignificant, and her activity was in no way malicious — unlike the activity that Jackley and other corrupt South Dakota officials have engaged in. Howe’s activism has made her a target in the eyes of the state, and according to state officials, she must be punished. Bringing up Howe’s minor charges from the past is yet again another blatant example of South Dakota officials subverting attention from their malfeasance. They want to distract the public from the much larger issue of kidnapping and cultural genocide, of which they have been the biggest linchpins.

Oglala Tribe mulling creation of Tribal National Park


Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer published an update on efforts to establish a Tribal National Park within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southwestern portion of South Dakota.

The roughly 133,000 acres of tribal land is currently being managed by the National Park Service, but there is a movement afoot to create the Badlands South Unit, essentially an extension of the current Badlands National Park, with the caveat being that this park will be jointly managed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the park service.

Oglala President Bryan Brewer recently penned an op-ed in Indian Country Today Media Network in support of federal legislation that would establish the cooperative management structure called the Tribal National Park Commission.

“The purposes of the (legislation) are to preserve, protect and interpret the cultural, historic, prehistoric, scientific and scenic values of the area, including the history, culture and heritage of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Lakota people,” Brewer said.

If passed the bill would authorize a memorial to honor Lakota World War II veterans, including the Codetalkers, and honor the Oglala families that were displaced from their homes in 1942.

In 1942, the United State War Department announced it was seizing the Northwest corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for an Aerial Gunnery Range and told the approximately 900 Native families to move out.

The dented landscape still shows vestiges of the practice bombing runs carried out by the U.S. Air Force during the war.

In the 1960s, the United States offered Lakota families the opportunity to purchase back some of the land, which many did. The government also authorized the ability to graze livestock on the land.

Since 1976, there has been an understanding that a cultural heritage center honoring the Lakota people would be constructed and the national park would be jointly managed, but a full-fledged agreement is still yet to be hammered out.

According to the Rapid City Journal, the Oglala Tribal Council agreed to issue a referendum, asking tribal members to vote on whether they would like to see the creation of the Tribal National Park.

Oglala President Bryan Brewer has maintained the park is an opportunity to both honor the long and illustrious culture of the Lakota Nation, restore Buffalo to its traditional pastureland and promote economic development in an area that continues to wrangle with a lack of economic opportunity.

“The Tribal National Park offers our Tribe the chance to honor our Lakota culture and heritage,” he said. “We have a chance to restore the buffalo and native species, promote economic development and create jobs through respectful tourism that honors the heritage of our Oglala Lakota Nation.”