When Warm Springs tribal member Jefferson Greene arrived at the Standing Rock Reservation this September, he was struck by the presence of the 100+ flags representing tribal nations from across North America and from nations around the world. To him, it was a testament to the fact that over the centuries, indigenous people have come together to trade and commune—and this time, to stand for the benefit of Mother Earth.
Greene was one of dozens of members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to take part in the demonstrations at the Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota this month. According to Greene, roughly 35 to 50 members from the Warm Springs tribes have traveled the 1,200+ miles in support of the demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The pipeline, a $3.8 billion project, is slated to carry crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil formation to Illinios, traveling under the Missouri River and crossing through the Standing Rock Reservation. As of the date of publication, the construction on the pipeline had been temporarily halted – though no final decision has been made.
"Right now we're kind of just on standby to see," Greene says. "The entire world now is against this pipeline. Every nation is calling about global warming and climate change and we're a nation that is just not listening. It is unbelievable."
Demonstrations against the pipeline began in April but have been gaining steam over the summer, with thousands now in attendance. Along with representatives from tribes nationwide, the numbers also included those members of the Warm Springs canoe family—a grassroots group of tribal members who gather annually to bring back the tradition of canoeing, lost when tribes were moved away from the Columbia River.
Greene says he and his small party trailered their canoe to a boat launch north of the Standing Rock Reservation, putting in their boat just outside the reservation's borders. Both on the water and in their vehicle, Greene says his party received a warm welcome upon arrival. Even the one interaction with law enforcement, as their party drove near the reservation, was peaceful, Greene says. The private security firm seen on social media with biting attack dogs had already been asked to leave, Greene said.
"All over the world is preaching the same thing that this pipeline cannot go through and I don't understand why our leaders of our nation are not taking that much of an interest," Greene lamented. "I do appreciate that the Obama administration asked for a voluntary shutdown, but that left it in the hands of the company. We shall see."