In a number of previous posts I’ve discussed the extraordinary confrontations taking place in the US state of North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Tribe, a Native American community, has been demonstrating against the construction of a vast oil pipeline near their lands and homes in the Fort Yates’ area. Known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the $3.8 billion project is expected to carry over half-a-million barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken and Three Forks production fields in North Dakota some 1886 kilometres southward to Patoka, Illinois, for distribution around the populous East and Gulf Coast regions. So far thousands of activists from some 200 indigenous American nations have joined the Standing Rock people in their hour of need, facing down what has become an occupying army of local and state police working in cooperation with private security contractors. The rapid militarisation of the construction effort, with the approval of the governor’s office in Bismarck, the state capital, has shocked many observers. Over the last few weeks the Fort Yates and Missouri River areas have seen the deployment of soldiers from the National Guard and private security guards in camouflaged uniforms, the latter contingent representing the construction companies and firms behind the DAPL project, with orders to protect the lucrative enterprise.
The handful of journalists recording the demonstrations, and subsequent confrontations, have reported levels of violence and intimidation by the authorities, both public and private, unprecedented in the modern history of the region. The impression among some residents in North Dakota that the county and state government has handed over local law enforcement and civil control to the big businesses profiting from DAPL grows with every passing day. Below is a short look at the crisis from the Young Turks.