It’s astounding that 10,000 people converged on the open plain, with no water, food, sanitation, or housing, and worked together to make it all happen. The first camp was started by Standing Rock youth.
Hundreds of other tribes from all over the nation and world offered financial and physical support. I know quite a few tribal members from California who made pilgrimages out there, some several times. Some paddled down the Missouri River to get there.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge Mel Thom, Dennis Banks, John Trudell, Leonard Peltier, Billy Frank Jr., the American Indian Movement (AIM) and so many others that laid the foundations for the tribal sovereignty movement back in the 1960s and 70s. I heard a shout out to AIM by an elder at the Veterans Forgiveness Ceremony. (On a side note, now is the time for Obama to pardon Leonard Peltier! Here are the details of his case.)
There were a number of other elements that led to this victory:
- the strong legal basis for the tribe’s claims;
- the steady leadership of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault, with support from his tribal council and strong legal team that has been on this issue from the beginning (here is Archambault’s statement on the victory);
- President Obama’s willingness to not be bullied by the pipeline company’s push to build 99% of the pipeline before getting their federal permit; and
- the decline in Bakken production (shout out to Prius drivers for their role in this), making the pipeline unnecessary.