Anarchist Tactics at Standing Rock speak with Noah, who is a well-established movement medic,...
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Transcript of Anarchist Tactics at Standing Rock speak with Noah, who is a well-established movement medic,...
Anarchist Tactics at
1312 Press has transcribed and printed the following interview, which originally aired on The Final Straw Radio in March 2017. This zine exists here not as a glorification of the role that anarchists played at Standing Rock, but to provide an insight into what is needed to meaningfully support Indigenous struggles against extraction and ongoing land theft. This conversation touches on the atrocities committed by ongoing colonization that is carried out by continued land theft, including but not limited to spiritual and cultural desecration, and how allies and accomplices can utilize knowledge of this history to better their roles within Indigenous struggle.
The interview can be listened to at the link below:
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We speak with Noah, who is a well-established movement medic, anarchist, and participant in #NoDAPL at Standing Rock, about his experiences there and analyses of how this resistance was organized and how it developed. This interview was recorded days before media saw the images of the Sacred Stone Camp burning and having been disbanded, so many of the modes and tenses that we employ are not what we might given the current position of the camps. We talk about a wide-ranging set of topics, from what worked in the camps to what the failings were, and how resistance to extraction industries could look moving forward.
Ongoing and support is needed both for folks legal and medical expenses check out:waterprotectorlegal.orgmedichealercouncil.com
TFS: So were here to talk about Standing Rock and Im sure that folks have heard about it if they have been keeping at least half an eye on the news, but for those who havent, would you mind giving a brief overview of what the struggle is and what has been happening there?
NOAH: So the Dakota Access Pipeline is a large pipeline that would carry heavy crude oil to refineries in Illinois before getting sent out of the country for foreign consumption. The pipeline is routed to pass just upstream from the Standing Rock Reservations water intake, which is part of their concern, as well as the pipeline route has gone through a number of sacred sites causing the desecration of burial sites and other old religious sites. Back in August (2016) when construction got close to the Missouri River crossing by the Standing Rock reservation, the Sacred Stone Camp, which had been in existence since April, had made a bigger call for support in which many folks responded and thats when the first arrests took place, lead largely by women and youth from Standing Rock and other Indigenous women and youth. Here you saw some very strong images of women running out onto the Cannon Ball Ranch to block construction equipment which was some of the first real civil disobedience, as well as the Horse Nations coming to just be presented to the law enforcement that was there, but the law enforcement ended up being scared by the presentation of the Horse Nations and so they kinda backed off and fled. That was some very strong imaging right off the bat there.
I arrived not long after that and helped provide medical support for some of the non-violent civil disobedience and just in camp at large, based out of the Red Warrior Camp. Red Warrior Camp was one of the few organizations that really took a strong lead in actual civil disobedience that stopped pipeline construction and were it not for the Red Warrior Camp, Indigenous Peoples Power Project, some of the crews, some of the other bands of the Lakota Nations really stepping up and taking that direct action to the pipeline construction, that pipeline would be said and done by now. And we certainly wouldnt have cost Dakota Access the millions upon
millions of dollars weve cost them in lost time, delayed contracts and stock price as well as the divestments from the banks which with Seattle and some Native reservations have totaled well over $3billion worth of money withdrawn from Wells Fargo and punitive response from people. So the divestment is going to leave a lasting mark on these banks psyches and their shareholders psyches when they think about funding more of these projects.
TFS: Absolutely, and it seems like along with the actions that have been taken at the various camps, the relationships between the various camps has been also very important to have outreach via social media and awareness being spread in a grassroots way, because mainstream media was very slow seemingly to pick up on struggles going on at Standing Rock. Do you have anything to say about media blackouts there or anything like that? What has the process been for getting word out?
N: Well certainly its been led by some grassroots media projects that have been around since the start of the Sacred Stone Camp. Folks with Unicorn Riot have been there throughout the course of much of this which certainly is where I first started getting my media from as they did intermittent updates on the Sacred Stone Camp from its start and through several stages of it well before Standing Rock or NoDAPL became a more common phrase. I think it was also very important for the largest camp at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the Seven Fire Council Camp, which was kind of just an overflow camp.
TFS: Was that the youth camp?
N: The International Youth Council had a tipi in that camp for a while, but they were also holding space at Sacred Stone Camp and the Rose Bud Camp. The camps can be confusing when youre there, and have been confusing. Im sure its particularly hard to keep track of when youre watching from afar. Sacred Stone Camp is Ladonna Bravebull Allard and her familys land, which was started by Ladonna and some other matriarchs from the area and the youth runners back in the start of April. And it was the Dakota Youth
Runners who started getting a lot of attention from the long-distance runs they did.
It also needs to be pressed that there have been folks in that region who have been organizing in anticipation of the Keystone XL pipeline coming through Lakota territory that allowed for some of the groups within this larger mass to come together quickly and in an organized manner and show greater levels of discipline and training because we had been training together. We were under the leadership of Lakota matriarchs and other Lakota elders who understood from the get-go that as these pipelines were coming through, we needed to be able to have a common language around how we fight and how we resist with non-violent civil disobedience. And so folks are familiar, folks understand that there are different roles. If your role is media for the day, or medic, or police liason, thats your role for that day and you need to stick to it and if thats not your role, then you need to not try and make that your role.
So thats why when the camp was significantly smaller than when it was 12,000 people between the camps, when there were only a few hundred folks in camp there was more effective direct action to stop the pipeline than when there were all these folks who came to stand with Standing Rock but there were no plans to use that mass of people effectively or an unwillingness to utilize any of those plans on the parts of some.
TFS: Is that just because the camp got so unruly with the size, or do you feel that people were kind of not respecting any directives that were being told to them?
N: No, as Ive seen it put on the internet, that there was a problem with peace-chiefs trying to lead during a war situation. And so there were folks who, in the language I would use, didnt respect others diversity of tactics. And so there were folks who would interfere with Warriors and Water Protectors on the frontline and cause division and even go so far as to utilize spiritual abuse and manipulation to interrupt actions that were happening, or not
allow actions to happen or prevent them from happening in very vague ways, like getting outside folks to try and scream at people that Elders said no! And what they meant was Dave Archambault and the tribal council might not be happy with whats going on. But there are a number of different elders in the camp because there are many different tribes and nations in the camp, but not everyone listens to the same elders. Folks are taught to listen to their elders. The Lakota are not a monolithic group, they disagree with each other. Sometimes the grandmas and aunties would be there telling folks to hold the line while others would be telling them to go back to camp and pray. To some extent because the camp grew so fast and there wasnt space made for an all-nations council of any sort, these rifts and problems became rather challenging at times because there was so much to do just in camp life and preparing for the change of the seasons and to try and train and utilize huge numbers of people who were rolling over every few days as well as deal with mountains of supplies coming in.
It all became very challenging, and then you have a real separation of leadership of folks who are contracted by the tribe to help, or were from larger non-profits who largely operated out of the casino rather than the camp. So you have that disconnect of folks who werent involved in the camps but were considered leadership for one reason or another, which made things very challenging all in all. When the information about whats happening in camp gets through games of telephone, you end up with a lot of rumor and heresy added in, or misinformation, and that can be seen by how often facebook says the camp is being raided when were not.
TFS: As an anarchist