(My Standing Rock posts are a diary of two trips James and I took to Standing Rock as, with the backing of our church, we protested the Dakota Access Pipeline. The first four posts come from around Labor Day, 2016. The remaining posts come from around Thanksgiving, 2016.)
It would be an error to say that the mood at Standing Rock is as optimistic as it was when we last visited in August. Over 600 tribes have gathered–which is a number that recorded history has never seen before. Celebrities do their awareness work. (I think I saw James Cromwell at the buffet.) But the injuries and arrests have coupled with the apparent fecklessness of the Obama administration, to bring a sense of profound disappointment. Change has not come for the Native Americans. This pipeline–which is a benign powder blue–strews itself along the highway in pieces. Like some kind of final sentence, it is something that is literally awaiting both assembly and injection. In spite of the government’s prohibition’s, DAPL has only increased its construction–and according to the camps, it may well be under the Missouri already. As the HuffPo article suggests, the fines for such defiance mean nothing compared to the cost that DAPL incurs for the pipeline’s delay. And this means that if they are indeed shrugging off the Army Corps of Engineers, we have an instance when a corporation has gotten too big for the government–or at least for the laws of the government.
There is something fatally wrong with a democracy, when corporations can shrug off the rule of law. There is something fatally wrong with a justice system, when that same company could merely pay a fine for defying the whole damn army, while people who peacefully protest that company now face charges that could land them in prison.
(Originally posted November 25, 2016)