Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Blue Self-Existing Night/ Blue Galactic Eagle - Cosmic Turtle Moon of Presence, Day 8
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe recently won a major legal victory in federal court which may have the power to force the shutdown of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration failed to conduct an adequate environmental review of the pipeline, after President Trump ordered the Army Corps to fast-track and green-light its approval. The judge requested additional briefings next week on whether the pipeline should be shut off until the completion of a full review of a potential oil spill’s impacts on fishing and hunting rights, as well as environmental justice. The pipeline faced months of massive resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, members of hundreds of other indigenous tribes from across the Americas, as well as non-Native allies. We speak with Standing Rock Sioux Chair Dave Archambault II and Nick Tilsen, executive director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation and a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Continued from yesterday's post.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to my conversation about the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline with Standing Rock Sioux Chair Dave Archambault and Nick Tilsen of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He’s a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation on the reservation. I asked Nick Tilsen about his family’s history.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your family, your family’s history. You’re from Pine Ridge.
NICK TILSEN: Yeah. So my mother, JoAnn Tall Janis, is from Pine Ridge. My father, Mark Tilsen, is from the Minneapolis Twin Cities area. My grandfather, Ken Tilsen, was a civil rights attorney and attorney for the American Indian Movement. And my parents met around the time of Wounded Knee. And so I got to really grow up around like activist type of family.
AMY GOODMAN: And for those who don’t know what Wounded Knee was?
NICK TILSEN: Wounded Knee—Wounded Knee was the siege or occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, that was organizing from different indigenous people from around the country, about—
AMY GOODMAN: In South Dakota.
NICK TILSEN: In South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, about three miles from where I live. And it was—it was—the generation before, it was their Standing Rock, right? It was the time in which people spoke out about all these grave injustices against all indigenous people. And it sort of sparked—sparked a movement throughout, you know, the future of Indian country about what it means. And so, I always compare—I was growing up in a family, hearing all these stories about Wounded Knee and about the American Indian Movement, and always asked, "I wonder what our Wounded Knee is going to be. I wonder what—I wonder what our generation’s Wounded Knee is going to be." And then Standing Rock happened. And I think the most important point here is, if you looked at after Wounded Knee, the trajectory of Indian country began to change. Different policies were changed to our Indian country. And that’s one of the—that’s one of the stories, I guess, that we have here, one of the opportunities that we have as Indian country here, is that where we go from here for the indigenous rights struggle in this country is huge. There’s a consciousness that it’s raised. There’s people that are fired up. And have the—we have the possibility and the potential to shape what the next, you know, 40, 50 years looks like for indigenous people.
AMY GOODMAN: Your great-grandmother was Meridel Le Sueur?
NICK TILSEN: Yep.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us who she was?
NICK TILSEN: Meridel Le Sueur was—she was a poet. She was an activist. She was a writer. And she was a bold believer in a different world. And, you know, she was a poet. She was a writer of poetry books. But she also, you know, fought for the women’s right to vote. She was an organizer in the labor movement, big sacrificer for some of the rights that we have today and sort of—not sort of. She’s a legend, I guess, beyond our family and did a lot of—did a lot of things that helped shape this country. And to me, you know, as—to me and our generation, I think we still derive a lot of courage from the courage that she had.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you were arrested, September.
NICK TILSEN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And what were you doing?
NICK TILSEN: On September 14th, there was a group of us—there as a group of us that locked down to machinery. This was during the period of time where they moved—they moved the buffer zone. So, there was a buffer zone; there was no construction within 20 miles. But what the companies had done is they moved to a seven-day workweek outside of that 20 miles. So this whole time, they knew that they were going to get approval. They just moved out. So we said, "Well, instead of sit back and waiting for them, let’s take the fight to them. Let’s use nonviolent direct action, and let’s use our abilities to take the fight to them." And so we went to the—we went to a construction site, came upon the machinery. And immediately when they’ve seen us, they tried to run us over with the excavators. They swung the buckets at us, barely missed us. We ended up climbing, using our bodies, climbing up on the machinery and shutting the construction down.
AMY GOODMAN: What were you charged with?
NICK TILSEN: I was charged with four different charges. Three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, obstruction of a government function—disorderly conduct, obstruction of a government function. The felony charge was reckless endangerment. And it was a felony charge. This is one of the first felonies that they—one of the first felony charges that they did in Standing Rock was on the day that I was arrested and with the folks that I was taking the action with. And it was a pretty important thing, because they were trying to use it as a tactic. They were going to—they were trying to use it as a tactic to overcharge people, essentially, to use the political and the legal system to discourage people. And I think I was probably about the 40th person arrested. So their strategy to discourage people didn’t work. I think there was over 700 people, you know, after I was arrested, that were arrested.
But the disorderly conduct charge is a serious charge. I’m still facing that charge. I’m set to go to trial on August 17th. The difference between a misdemeanor disorderly—or reckless endangerment charge and a felony is that they’re basically saying I had extreme indifference for human life, for locking myself to a piece of machinery to protect water.
AMY GOODMAN: How many people are still facing trials, facing charges?
NICK TILSEN: Hundreds. I mean, I think—yeah, I was on the Water Protector Legal Collective email chain recently, and I think there’s still, you know, between 400 and 600 people facing charges.
AMY GOODMAN: Chairman Dave Archambault, you, too, were arrested.
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: When were you arrested? And has your case gone to trial?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes, I was arrested on August 12th. And last week, I just got done with my trial, and I was acquitted.
AMY GOODMAN: Was it a jury trial?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: You alone?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: No, there was another, Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, that was in the court case with me. And then there was another lady, Alayna Eagle Shield, who was also going to court with us. And it was interesting. So, when we were arrested, the bond was set at $250. And I know Nick—
AMY GOODMAN: $250.
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes. I know when Nick was arrested, that had—it started going up, the cost. Just the bond was starting to increase. And the charges started to change. And the language, all the propaganda began, with the state and the state outlets—news outlets started saying that "These are terrorist acts. They’re inciting riots." And so, for my charge, it was disorderly conduct. I was probably the second day of the entire camp, is when I got arrested. So, there was maybe 12 people at that time, total, that got arrested. And the reason I got arrested was because I was trying to protect another lady, who was standing in the path of vehicles exiting. And I was met by a wall of law enforcement, and I tried to go around. And then—
AMY GOODMAN: Do they know you?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: No, they didn’t know me. And in the hearing, the officer who confronted me, who I ran into, said I had my hands on him and I was yelling, which was not true. So when I testified in our hearing, I said, "I don’t yell. What he was describing a lili that women, Lakota women, do. And he said I was doing that. And when you look at the video and you look at the pictures, my mouth is closed. And he said I had my hands on him, but my hands were back, and I was going through the line. And so, the prosecutor brought up another witness, another law enforcement that was close by, and asked him, "Was the chairman yelling?" And he said, "No." "Did the chairman have his hands...?" He said, "No." So, two officers saying two different things. And I was just—
AMY GOODMAN: These are Morton County sheriff’s deputies?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: One—yeah, I think they were both from Morton County. But, you know, the jury being able to hear actually what happened and making the decision was a relief, because this was something—that was the first thing. Right after that, the Dakota Access pipeline filed a temporary restraining order on me. And that was granted. So, the tribe filed a temporary restraining order on the company, and the judge said, "We’re not granting this." But as soon as they file one on me, the judge grants it. And then, after that, they filed a civil suit in federal court against me to try to pin all the costs and expenses that the protest is creating on me. And I would say maybe about three weeks ago that one was dismissed, because you can’t—you can’t pin a certain—I think it has to be $75,000 or more on one individual, and they couldn’t put that on me.
AMY GOODMAN: So you were charged with a misdemeanor. And what happened? Were you jailed?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes, I went to jail. And we bonded out the same day.
AMY GOODMAN: You were—were you strip-searched?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yeah
AMY GOODMAN: Were you put in an orange jumpsuit?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And you were jailed?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Nick, the same?
NICK TILSEN: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, strip-searched, jailed. I had a broken foot at the time. Yeah, we weren’t treated very well in there. I mean, we didn’t get our bedding in. Actually, some of the other—there was other Native brothers that were in jail for other things, and they were the ones advocating for us to get our bedding and different stuff, because they had been in there for a while.
AMY GOODMAN: At this point, hundreds of members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes and non-Native allies still face trial.
NICK TILSEN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to this exposé about TigerSwan and them calling the resistance, meaning you, Chairman Dave Archambault, also you, Nick Tilsen, and so many others, the "insurgency"? What do you make of that, even referring to your resistance as a kind of "jihadi" insurgency, Nick?
NICK TILSEN: Insurgents. How is it possible? How is it possible that any indigenous people are insurgents on their own land? Our land has been overrun by corporations, by the militarization of our lands and our communities and our people. It’s impossible for us, as indigenous people on our only land, to be insurgents. If there’s insurgents, it’s the company. If there’s insurgents, it’s the private military company. It’s impossible for us to be insurgents on our own land. We did at Standing Rock what our ancestors did. We did at Standing Rock, which was stand in prayer, we did things founded in our culture, our spirituality. This is women, children, families, people that came there to sacrifice. We were not insurgents. We were people fighting for what was right, simply fighting for what we believed in and protecting water on behalf of 17 million Americans. And to call us insurgents is a disgrace to the future generations. It’s also a reality that this is the political times that we’re in. When you rise up and you take political action and you do it in a peaceful way founded in your—founded in your beliefs, you’re faced with guns, you’re faced with water cannons, you’re faced with bullets, you’re faced with all kinds of violence. That violence was put on us. The water protectors never enacted violence on any of the—on any of the police. That was not—that was not something that happened. We trained our communities and our people in nonviolent direct action, and we did it collectively. And so, to call us insurgents is completely wrong. It’s an alternative fact.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I want to turn now to what’s happening now at Standing Rock. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is now leading an initiative to build a solar farm in Cannon Ball, less than three miles from the Dakota Access pipeline. Among the companies that will be helping build the solar farm is Native Renewables. This is Native Renewables co-founder Wahleah Johns, speaking Thursday at the Henry Wallace Award ceremony in New York City for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
WAHLEAH JOHNS: The father, the sun, it provides—it can provide power. It can empower us. And that’s been a lot of what we’ve been talking about with Native Renewables, is that empowering our communities to actually learn how it works, how solar works, but also building our capacity to manage and own projects to generate power. So far, a lot of tribes are being—like, our land base is being targeted by fossil fuel companies. And how do we shift away from that? And I’m from a big coal-mining community, and I chose this work because I wanted to see something different, and I want to protect our water, so our future generations have a future that is healthy and clean.
AMY GOODMAN: Chairman Dave Archambault, talk about what it is you’re doing now just a few miles from the Dakota Access pipeline, where the oil is flowing. The fossil fuel industry has succeeded in building that. But what are you now doing at Standing Rock?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: We have over 12 communities on Standing Rock. What would be a dream or goal is to have all 12 communities powered off of renewables. But we have to start somewhere. And the best place to start is in Cannon Ball, because it’s so close to where this pipeline is, where this fossil fuel bane exists. And so, at the community level, then at the national level, if tribes, Native tribal nations can say we are 100 percent powered and 100 percent that we consume renewable energy, that builds awareness for other communities and then maybe the nation.
AMY GOODMAN: So how are you doing this, with wind and solar?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: With the solar panels, we’re starting off with a 300-kilowatt project. On the commercial wind side, we have a resource, and that’s the wind, that can generate a lot of electricity in the Great Plains. And so, how do we develop it to where—to where the tribe is actually the owner of the project and not the investors or the developers? So we need to take a more active role, and so we’re exploring different ways to be the actual owners once this is developed.
AMY GOODMAN: Of a wind farm?
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT II: Of a wind farm. And it will be a commercial wind farm, so that we’re talking like 100 megawatts, producing on average maybe 40 to 50 megawatts annually. So we’ll be able to take those—that power and sell it commercially and then use the resources to offset or to evolve our homes, so that they can provide heat in a good way, rather than burning fossil fuels.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Nick Tilsen, what does this mean to you in Pine Ridge to have this kind of project?
NICK TILSEN: I think it means a lot to us in Pine Ridge and all of Indian country. I mean, tribal communities have been the place where negative resource extraction—it’s been the place where pipelines go through. It’s been the place where they store nuclear waste. It’s the—the Native nations in this country have been the dumping grounds for the energy industry for a long time. It just so happens to be that Native communities are also—have the potential to be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. These communities are also—you’ve got eight of the 12 poorest communities in all of America, are in North Dakota and South Dakota, and they’re all Indian communities. And so—
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.
NICK TILSEN: Eight of the—eight of the 12 poorest communities in all of America are in North Dakota and South Dakota, and they’re all tribal communities. So this pipeline and projects—this pipeline, Keystone—Keystone XL pipeline, they’re not only just going through the heart of Indian country, they’re going through ground zero for inequity in America. They’re going through ground zero for poverty in America. And so, what we’re basically saying is we’re not just against these pipelines. We’re against these pipelines. We’re against—we believe that these pipelines are pipelines to the past. And we believe that we should be building sustainable infrastructure for the future, and so that we have the potential and we have the opportunity in tribal nations, like they’re doing in Standing Rock and like we’re doing on Pine Ridge with Thunder Valley—is building the communities of tomorrow and beginning the process of just transition and what that looks like.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re founding executive director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, which is what?
NICK TILSEN: It’s a nonprofit, grassroots, community-based organization doing sustainable economic development in one of the poorest communities in America. And we’re building a community from scratch based on renewable energy, sustainable housing and designing communities based on indigenous values.And so, what this means for us is, the time in Standing Rock, this was not just against the pipeline. We’re fighting for our very future. And, you know, we have to be able to meet the needs of our present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. And this is a very indigenous way of thinking, indigenous values way of thinking. It’s also a very practical way of thinking, because the past energy and economic model that this country has been operating on has continued to create a separation between the rich and the poor, exploit lands, and we’re fighting for something very different. And so I think that this project at Standing Rock is one—this movement, having come to Standing Rock, let’s make sure something happens for the people of Standing Rock. Let’s make sure that this inspiration happening at Standing Rock benefits the people of Standing Rock. And I think that’s what Wahleah, Native Renewables, Give Power—they’re all collectively working to help make that happen. And so, this means inspiration for us, because if it can happen at Thunder Valley and Pine Ridge, and if this can happen in Cannon Ball and Standing Rock, this can have a ripple effect to what happens all throughout Indian country, and hopefully begin to reform the way that energy policy and and energy projects happen.
AMY GOODMAN: Nick Tilsen, head of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. And from North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Chair Dave Archambault.*
Kin 43: Blue Self-Existing Night
I define in order to dream
I seal the input of abundance
With the self-existing tone of form
I am guided by the power of self-generation
I am a galactic activation portal
The simple, most elegant means will always be true; therefore, it will be aesthetic and moral.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Sahasrara Chakra (Dali Plasma)