Largely out of the headlines, the ongoing protest on Standing Rock is shining a bright light on how the big-moneyed interests with political clout steamroll the disadvantaged in order to get what they need.
But in a rare David-vs-Goliath standoff, the Sioux tribespeople of Standing Rock Reservation are learning that they are not powerless. Their refusal to roll over and allow an oil pipleline to be built on their lands is growing into one of the largest resistance movements in recent years, drawing supporters from all over the country, and forcing the discussion of “Where do we draw the line?” in regards to our pursuit of depleting natural resources.
Activist Mark Morey joins the podcast this week to provide context on this unfolding conflict:
I think we are in an era of self-organizing emergent social revolutions. I do not know what to call them. Even the Bernie Sanders campaign had qualities that unexpectedly, hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands, 50,000 people coming together for a candidate during a Democratic primary was just unheard of. Crashing all records.
This is another one of those in my mind. This particular one was started by teenagers and youth, believe it or not. When you do the research they stood up and they were the first ones to put their campsite down in that very location in Cannonball because they had this very deep and real sense of their future being threatened. I saw one of the teenagers, they went all the way to D.C. to speak with Bernie Sanders. Bill McKibben was there yesterday or the day before.
So there she is. She’s 16 years old and she says, I grew up on a reservation in the middle of this great place where my ancestors had been living here forever. There’s a kind of authority that comes from that lineage. They say clean water is our heritage and our right, and what we’re standing for the way we do things. She starts to cry thinking the oil corporations don’t care about her tribe’s children. The pipeline was going to run north of Bismarck, North Dakota, up there in the watershed, but they deemed it too dangerous for those residents so they ran it down by the reservation
That’s the pattern. Social justice and environmental damage are often correlated because they are at the margins and there’s no media there. You can ship uranium to the Navajo or whatever. What’s unusual is, standing up against literally the machine, the bulldozer, or standing up against the billion dollar oil energy companies. And these are the poorest people in our country. They are third-world poverty, 70% poverty people with their causes of death being things like alcoholism, and suicide, and diabetes — the kinds of things we see as the leading cause of death from depression and oppression. To see them stand up I think ultimately it has this mythic quality to it. The ultimate weakest, smallest, poorest person with the greatest spirit and most righteous stance: that you cannot drink oil. Once this thing gets routed, the 16 million people living downstream will all be affected.
It magnetized not just individuals to come help them, but all of the tribes in the U.S. sent representatives there. There are over 250 representative tribes there, which has never happened before in the history of the U.S. They’re putting up flags — there’s this long corridor of nations, sovereign nations, native peoples’ flags. There’s this incredible sense of an indigenous resurrection and power to the message they have for the modern world. Of course it’s in the context of climate change, all the stuff that is coming out around the end of nature as we know it. Perhaps these people have something to offer us. Also, non-native people are going there and offering resources and help around the country. There is something like 7,000 people camping there now.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Mark Morey (41m:55s).
Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and it is September 15, 2016 — my birthday. So, it does have that going for it. That is really irrelevant. Listen, if we scan the world’s predicaments with equal measures of dread and hope, people often ask me, why aren’t people doing something? Meaning usually, why aren’t people standing up and saying no? Why isn’t anybody protesting? The sad truth is that often people are, and you are just not hearing about it.
When the Iraq war protests erupted the largest anti-war protest in world history happened with over a million U.S. people showed up at the largest peacetime protest in its history. The New York Times saw fit to print the news on page A16, a little tiny column, saying only that, quote, “Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters marched in several demonstrations around the country today.” End quote. Really? Tens of thousands, huh. Of course the New York Times had deep conflicts of interest and promoted that war every step of the way including publishing falsified intelligence from unnamed U.S. officials. When the Occupy Wall Street protest came along, they were ignored and then denigrated by the mainstream press. So, if you have the impression that people are not protesting, not standing up, not finally saying no more, it may be because it simply has not been reported on.
Today, there is another protest going on that has become a movement and I want to be sure you know about it. Back in April of 2016 a few Standing Rock tribal members set up a camp in a small valley next to the Cannonball River protesting the so-called Dakota Access Pipeline designed to carry oil 1,200 miles from the Bakken oil fields, which we report on all the time to a distribution center in Illinois. That protest caught fire and that camp by the river is now larger than most small towns in North Dakota. Something big is happening, and it is much bigger than a protest to block something. It is about finally standing for something that needed to be done. It is about standing for something.
To discuss this with us today is a really good friend of mine, Mark Morey. Mark is a creative artist, a visionary educator, cultural engineer, and consultant who designs regenerative, holistic communities with timeless native principles. Really, it is very hard to capture the brilliant and cutting-edge work that is Mark’s mission in the world. Let us let that unfold a little bit for you in this podcast. Welcome, Mark.
Mark Morey: Thanks, Chris. Happy birthday.
Chris Martenson: Thanks. Listen, I really did not know how to introduce you properly, because your work in the world, it is so deep and complex. In your own words, who are you and what do you do?
Mark Morey: Well, I think artist has been something that I have worked with for a while because at some point I went off trail from the normal path of growing up in the 70s, and going