treaty of fort laramie
Still Fighting at Standing Rock
The national media has moved on, but the story is not over.

I’m sure we remember the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux. This article is long, but it tells us what’s been going on with the hundreds of Native American and other protestors that were arrested. Some have settled their court cases, some have been found not guilty, it’s hard to find unbiased juries, the cases are weak versus the cases are strong depending on who you talk with, and so on. It’s a good article.

Here is an excerpt telling us about one of the protestors, Rattler, who faces federal charges.


Rattler, 45, legal name Michael Markus, is one of six native activists facing near-unprecedented federal charges related to the Standing Rock protest camps against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The federal cases sit alongside hundreds and hundreds brought by state prosecutors, stemming from vast numbers of arrests made over the six months that the camps stood—a protest which at its height drew up to 15,000 participants from around the world and, for a short time, the dilettantish gaze of the mainstream media. The authorities razed the last major holdouts of the camps on February 23, by which point numbers had already dwindled as blizzard conditions pummeled the prairie lands. The camera crews packed up and most of the country went back to focusing on Trump.

But for Rattler, his federal co-defendants, the many hundreds of arrestees facing state charges, and their lawyers, the fight on the ground in North Dakota is far from over. They face a terrain as brutal and unforgiving as any winter on the Standing Rock reservation: a small-town court system in conservative rural counties with no experience of anything nearing this scale or political valence.

The unbroken American history of native oppression is not lost on Rattler, a marine veteran, truck driver and card-carrying Oglala Lakota Sioux Indian who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota—designated one of the poorest areas in America. His great-great-great-great grandfather was Chief Red Cloud, the storied Oglala Lakota leader who oversaw successful campaigns against the U.S. Army in 1866 and signed the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty, delineating the Indian Country through which the DAPL now runs. Red Cloud died at Pine Ridge in 1909. The same Pine Ridge where over 250 Lakota were massacred and buried in a mass grave in 1890 at Wounded Knee; the same Wounded Knee where, in 1973, American Indian Movement (AIM) activists and supporters from every Indian nation occupied the town.

The Standing Rock federal trials are not likely to begin until October, at the earliest. The six federal defendants have all been charged with use of fire to commit an offense and civil disorder, stemming from events on October 27—a major date in the pipeline standoff on which 141 people were arrested. Police deployed armored vehicles, lashes of pepper spray and LRAD sound cannons to clear water protectors from one of the campsites, while barricades were set alight and DAPL equipment was damaged. The civil disorder charge is a rarely used federal statute with a fiercely political history—it was passed in the late 1960s at the height of the Black Liberation and anti-war movements. AIM members from the Wounded Knee occupation faced the very same charge.

It was not until January 23, three days after Trump’s inauguration, that the Justice Department moved to file federal charges. This, [Sandra Freeman, Rattler’s attorney] said, was “no accident.” Each defendant now faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.


December 15th 1890: Sitting Bull killed

On this day in 1890, the Native American Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, was killed at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Formal peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States government began in 1868 upon the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills - which were in Sioux territory - in the 1870s led to a torrent of white prospectors invading the Sioux lands. The numerous Sioux tribes united under Sitting Bull’s leadership, and initially secured some major military victories over American forces. The most famous battle of the Great Sioux War of 1876 was the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the famed General Custer. Sitting Bull then led his people to Canada, only to come back to America in 1881. It was around this time that he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, but he soon returned to his people to protect the rights of indigenous Americans. Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 1890 by U.S. troops, who were trying to arrest him under fears he would join the Ghost Dance movement.

“I would rather die an Indian than live a white man”

They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.
—  Lakota chief Red Cloud (1822 - 1909). He was a widely respected Lakota Sioux warrior who led a successful campaign in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud’s War over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. Red Cloud also led his people in the transition to reservation life after the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. He continued to advocate for his people’s interests, including traveling to DC to meet with President Grant and negotiating strongly with various Indian Agents.

Dakota Access Pipeline workers bulldozed sacred sites and graves in North Dakota on Sunday, and I found out today that one of those graves belonged to one of my relatives…

I’m not even from Standing Rock and they desecrated a grave of my family member, Charles Picotte (Eta-ke-cha). He isn’t just a long dead man people have forgotten about, this was the grave of a man whose face I know, who I have pictures of in family albums. A family member that lived through the transition to reservation life. I’m upset. I’m angry. I’m shocked right now because it hits home. He was a translator and one of the signers of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, a treaty that 3 of my relatives signed, a treaty they are breaking RIGHT NOW with this pipeline.

I’ve never set foot in Standing Rock, I don’t even know anyone from Standing Rock. But this has affected me all the way over here in Washington, and this is an attack on the rights of native peoples. People need to share what’s happening right now, how they’re desecrating these sacred sites, hiring paramilitary, unleashing dogs and tear gas on protesters defending the health and future of their community, plus their treaty rights, because the media is ignoring all of this. Sign the petition to stop it, send donations to the Sacred Stone camp, raise awareness. This is about the interests of a corporation being put before indigenous peoples rights and health.


April 29th 1868: Fort Laramie Treaty signed

On this day in 1868, the Fort Laramie Treaty was signed by the United States government and representatives of the Sioux Nation. The treaty officially recognised the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming as part of the Great Sioux Reservation, and set the land aside for the exclusive use of its indigenous inhabitants. During the nineteenth century, spurred by the overcrowding of Eastern states and by the providential mission of ‘Manifest Destiny’, Americans increasingly sought to expand westward. As settlers encroached on Native American land, violence became an integral part of life on the frontier. A congressional committee report in 1867 encouraged the establishment of an Indian Peace Commission, with the intention of ending the conflict. The U.S. government sought to make treaties with Native Americans which would force them to give up their land and move onto western reservations. One such treaty was made in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in 1868. However, the U.S. soon sent General George Custer to the Black Hills in 1874 in search of gold mines. Once gold was discovered, prospectors descended on the area, and the army began to confront the Sioux. In 1876, Custer’s army at the Little Bighorn river was annihilated by Sioux and Cheyenne fighters. Despite this devastating loss, the war continued, and in 1877 the United States confiscated the Black Hills. The Sioux people continued to protest the illegal seizure of their ancestral land. They won a significant legal victory in 1980, when the Supreme Court ordered financial compensation for the loss of the land; the Sioux, however, refused payment and continued to demand the return of their land.

“From this day forward all war between the parties to this agreement shall for ever cease. The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it.”
- Article I of the Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868

Alcatraz, 1969

Beginning in 1969, 89 American Indians known as the Indians of All Tribes took over Alcatraz. This occupation of Alcatraz was in direct in protest of the American government’s breaking of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised Native Americans the right to federal land that was no longer in use. This land was no longer in use but the federal government had no intention of handing it over. This occupation would last 19 months, ending in 1971, when the US government forced them out through different tactics. Some sources claim that this occupation was the true birthplace of the Red Power Movement. 

Today is Thanksgiving, a day on which we remember an almost entirely fictional encounter between the settler-colonists in Massachusetts and the local Wampanoag people. While the details of the Thanksgiving story are largely mythical, it is true that the settler-colonists would have died without the aid of the Wampagoag in those first few years. If we go to the heart of the story we’re remembering a moment where Native people helped non-Native people survive.
Now it’s our turn.
You’ve probably heard about the Water Protectors in North Dakota, trying with all their might and main to stop an oil pipeline crossing the Oglala Aquifier and going beneath the Missouri River. Millions of people downriver of the crossing depend on the Missouri for their drinking water - the Lakota at Standing Rock reservation would be the first and most drastically hit. The protectors have a phrase: Mni Wiconi - Water is Life. They are standing between the company and the river for all of us.
There are thousands gathered at the three camps that make up the Water Protector presence. Local law enforcement has violently tried to disperse the camps - they have attacked Protectors with rubber bullets, sound canons, concussion grenades, and high-pressure hoses. The Water Protectors have done nothing wrong. The land on which the pipeline is to be built belongs to them - the Supreme Court upheld it as such in 1980 when it agreed with the Lakota that the U.S. government had broken the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised the Oceti Sakowin (the seven council fires of the Lakota) the Black Hills region forever.
On Sunday night, after dark, when temperatures were at 27F, local law enforcement attacked one of the camps. A concussion grenade exploded on one female protector’s arm - she was flown to Minneapolis, and it looks like her arm may have to be amputated. An elder went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated by camp healers. 26 people were injured badly enough to be taken to hospital. Many hundreds more were hurt.
Local law enforcement is knowingly risking killing people. You don’t spray people with high pressure water hoses when the temperature is below freezing because you want them to back off; you do it because you want to cause hypothermia. Amnesty International has decried the attack as an attack on human rights, and has appealed to local law enforcement to stop these tactics. The United Nations has condemned what’s going on. Oh, and Protectors are being arrested for “rioting.” Mmmhmm.
Once again, Native people stand between non-Native people and catastrophe, and this time we have to do more than be passively grateful. This Thanksgiving, could you pass the hat at your dinner table for money to send directly to the camps? If you raise $5, and everyone did it, that would be an enormous influx of resources. Those resources would enable camp leaders to buy the supplies that are most needed - medical equipment (local law enforcement road blocks make getting anyone out of the camps by ambulance very tricky); below-zero-grade sleeping bags; camp heaters; winter-ready tents etc., as well as provide legal counsel to those who have been arrested.
You can donate here:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Attention: Donations
PO Box D
Building #1
North Standing Rock Avenue
Fort Yates, ND 58538
North Dakota pipeline activists say arrested protesters were kept in dog kennels - LA Times

After a night of chaotic clashes with police on the front lines in a months-long protest, Native American activists complained about the force wielded to drive protesters from the path of a pipeline they contend will desecrate tribal lands and put their lone source of drinking water at risk.

Protesters said that those arrested in the confrontation had numbers written on their arms and were housed in what appeared to be dog kennels, without bedding or furniture. Others said advancing officers sprayed mace and pelted them with rubber bullets.

“It goes back to concentration camp days,” said Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a protest coordinator who said authorities wrote a number on his arm when he was housed in one of the mesh enclosures with his mother, Casey.

At least 141 people were arrested Thursday after hundreds of police officers in riot gear, flanked by military vehicles releasing high-pitched “sound cannon” blasts, moved slowly forward, firing clouds of pepper spray at activists who refused to move.

Authorities claimed some protesters turned violent during the confrontation, setting fires, tossing Molotov cocktails and, in one instance, pulling out a gun and firing on officers.

Some of the activists claimed Friday that police had opened fire with rubber bullets on protesters and horses. One horse was euthanized after being shot in the leg, said Robby Romero, a Native American activist.

“They were shooting their rubber bullets at our horses,” he said. “We had to put one horse down,” he said.

Camp-Horinek said authorities entered the teepees that activists had erected in the path of the pipeline, a four-state, 1,200-mile conduit to carry oil from western North Dakota to Illinois.

“It looked like a scene from the 1800s, with the cavalry coming up to the doors of the teepees, and flipping open the canvas doors with automatic weapons,” he said.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II called for a Justice Department investigation into the police tactics. Amnesty International announced Friday it was sending a human rights delegation to investigate and Sen. Bernie Sanders asked the White House to order the Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily halt construction of the pipeline.

“DOJ can no longer ignore our requests,” Archambault said in a statement. “If harm comes to any who come here to stand in solidarity with us, it is on their watch.”

Authorities have said all along that they have used restraint in the ongoing dispute and had pleaded for activists to retreat from the path of the pipeline and return to the camp where they have been gathered for months.

Most of those arrested were expected to be charged with criminal trespassing, engaging in a riot and conspiracy to endanger by fire, according to the sheriff’s department. Several fires broke out during the confrontation, and sheriff’s officials said seven protesters used “sleeping dragon” devices to attach themselves to vehicles or other heavy objects. The maneuver typically involves protesters handcuffing themselves together through PVC pipe, making it difficult for authorities to remove them using bolt cutters to break the handcuffs.

The protest in the rugged lands along the Cannonball River has lasted months as activists — sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands — have assembled to decry the pipeline project.

But on Friday, with protesters cleared from the path of the pipeline, work was expected to resume on the $3.78-billion Dakota Access Pipeline, operated by the Fortune 500 company Energy Transfer Partners.

“When I left the bus in handcuffs, DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline] trucks were lined up down the highway with construction equipment and materials waiting to come in and begin work,” said Camp-Horinek.

State and county police, the New Mexico National Guard and an oil company private security team cleared protesters, along with the teepees and tents they had erect in the path of the pipeline, and on Friday, authorities removed the final roadblocks that protesters had erected along the highway.

For the most part, protesters remained peaceful during Thursday’s confrontation, though at one point, an activist set fire to a heap of tires that were part of a blockade set up to impede the progress of advancing officers.

Sheriff’s officials said that one woman, while being arrested, pulled out a weapon and fired three rounds in the direction of the police lines. No one was hit, authorities said.

Activists denied that the woman fired the shots and claimed that sheriff’s officials previously had made erroneous reports about protesters’ actions, including passing along rumors of pipe bombs in the activists’ camp.

“The only gunshots that were fired would have come from them,” said Romero, one of the Native American activists. “They are armed. We are unarmed. They are trying to spin the narrative. They are using an increasingly vast military operation to respond to our spiritual resistance.

“They are fast-tracking the pipeline.”

With unimpeded access, pipeline crews could reach the Missouri River in a matter of days. The Obama administration has withheld final approval for the pipeline to cross under the river, on lands controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s office said late Friday that Highway 1806 remained closed after “intense interactions” overnight, including what it called “multiple fires” on a bridge south of the now-vacated “Treaty Stronghhold Camp.”

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kerchmeier said he was coordinating with Standing Rock officials to assist protesters in recovering teepees and other belongings, calling it a “a great example of communication, collaboration and cooperation.”  He added:  “I am very proud of our officers” who “responded with patience and professionalism and showed continuous restraint throughout the entire event.”

Despite the loss of their “Treaty Stronghold Camp,” which activists erected in recent days saying they were reclaiming land ceded to the Great Sioux Nation in the 1951 Fort Laramie treaty, activists vowed to fight on.

Today in history: November 20, 1969 - Indians of All Tribes (IAT) begins occupation of Alcatraz Island, demanding that the abandoned site of the infamous closed prison be turned over to Native people. 

The Alcatraz Occupation lasted for nineteen months, from November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, and was forcibly ended by the U.S. government. According to the IAT, the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux returned all retired, abandoned or out-of-use federal land to the Native people from whom it was acquired. Alcatraz penitentiary closed on March 21, 1963, and the island was declared surplus federal property in 1964. 

After a 1969 fire destroyed a San Francisco Indian center and Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel offered to turn Alcatraz into a national park, the protesters mobilized. The occupiers wanted to transform the island into a center for Native American Studies, an American Indian spiritual center, an ecology center, and an American Indian Museum. The Occupation attained international attention for the situation of Indigenous peoples in the United States, and inspired a wave of militant activism among Native Americans.

Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)

Honoring Black Elk – Holy Man & Lakota Visionary
Name: Heȟáka Sápa
Birthdate/Place: December 1, 1863 – Little Powder River, Wyoming
Death date/Place: August 19, 1950 – Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Best known for: A witness to plains history, he was three years old when the Fetterman Battle, took place in 1866; five years old during the signing of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and about 12 years of age when the Battle of the Little Big Horn was fought.

Washakie ~ Shoshone

Chief Washakie (c. 1798 – February 20, 1900) was a renowned warrior first mentioned in 1840 in the written record of the American fur trapper, Osborne Russell. In 1851, at the urging of trapper Jim Bridger, Washakie led a band of Shoshones to the council meetings of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851). Essentially from that time until his death, he was considered the head of the Eastern Shoshones by the representatives of the United States government.