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Chase Iron Eyes on Standing Rock’s Last Stand

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Wednesday, February 22 2017— Today in North Dakota the last remaining water protectors at Standing Rock face a 2pm deadline to vacate the camp.

Chase Iron Eyes at Oceti Sakowin Camp December 4, 2016 (photo: The Young Turks)

Chase Iron Eyes at Oceti Sakowin Camp December 4, 2016 (photo: The Young Turks)

On the podcast today, I interview Standing Rock Sioux member, Chase Iron Eyes. Iron Eyes is a Native American activist, attorney, politician, and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Additionally, Chase is a member of the Lakota People's Law Project and a co-founder of the Native American news website Last Real Indians and in 2016 ran unsuccessfully for US Congress.

In brief, here is where we are in the epic- almost year long struggle to protect the water by stopping the Dakota access pipeline from drilling under the Missouri river. It has been a peaceful and prayerful protest that has been ongoing since April of 2016 and has captured the imaginations of people all over the world faces and that today faces overwhelming force of local, state and federal agencies—including Morton County Police, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service Rangers, and the Department of Homeland Security—armed for war are prepared to enforce the deadline. The tactic of the militarized police state, acting as agents in our country’s longest war—our war against the Native Americans— has been well documented. Water protectors have been shot with rubber bullets, tazed and blasted with water cannons in freezing temperatures. The water cannon tactic reminiscent of the civil rights protests in the 1960s. As reported in the Guardian, FBIrepresentatives have contacted several ‘water protectors’, raising alarm that an indigenous-led movement is being construed as domestic terrorism.  

Mni Wiconi, or Water is Life—has become the rallying cry for this movement— and on December 4th, 2016— I was at Standing Rock when a victory—albeit temporary—was achieved when President Barack Obama had the Army Corps of Engineers deny an easement that Energy Transfer Partners needed to finish construction the pipeline. As part of the delay, an Environmental Impact Statement was to be completed. Donald Trump reversed that decision and halted the Environmental Impact Statement when Donald Trump issued an executive order on January 24—during his first week as president—ordering the go-ahead of the Dakota access pipeline.

Although not explicitly written on Trump’s Executive Order, it may have well have been titled: money is life.

In the 2nd half of the podcast, I interview Michal Nigro. Michael is an award award-winning filmmaker, Emmy-nominated writer-director, and social justice activist. He is a photojournalist and often travel partner of mine—we were at Standing Rock together back in December.

Thanks for listening,
- Dennis