“…with weapons aimed at their heads…” The Dakota Access Pipeline Eviction: Oil, Water & Sacred Lands

 

Social Documentary Photographer, Visual Artist, and Filmmaker Tracie Williams is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From her project ‘Feed The Flame‘.  To see Tracie’s body of work click on any image.

 

Tracie was arrested moments after taking featured image.

 

On Feb 23, 2017, law enforcement arrived with snipers situated on the roofs of Humvees, dressed in camouflage and armed with automatic weapons to systematically clear the camp. Williams was arrested while covering the militarized raid that took place there, moments after the image of the two Water Protectors praying near the Sacred Fire – with weapons aimed at their heads, point-blank range – was made.

Williams’ camera, audio recorder, memory cards and cell phone were confiscated as evidence. With perseverance and help from a couple of lawyers, several advocacy groups and a local Senator, she managed to get all of her gear back (data intact) literally hours before jumping on a plane back to NYC.

Over the course of the protest movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the state of North Dakota arrested at least 10 journalists and only seven were arrested in Syria in the same time period, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Tracie Williams was charged with “Physical Obstruction of Government Function,” which is a Class A Misdemeanor offense carrying a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or $3k fine. Williams’ trial date is yet to be scheduled.

 

 

 

 

Feed The Flame documents the final three weeks leading up to and including the eviction on Feb 23rd, 2017 of the OcetiOyate Camp, formerly known as the Oceti Sakowin Camp, located just north of Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Serving as the epicenter and headquarters for the indigenous led movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Oceti Sakowin was the main resistance camp and home to, at one point, thousands of Water Protectors.

 

 

 

Fulfilling a Lakota prophecy of a black snake that would rise from the depths of the earth delivering great sorrow and destruction, the Dakota Access Pipeline’s 1,172-mile route passes through treaty lands of historical and spiritual significance, including sacred burial grounds. On June 1st, 2017, the $3.78 billion project was declared “fully operational” with the expectation of transporting crude oil from the Bakken region in North Dakota to an oil tank farm in Patoka, Illinois, running underneath the Missouri River. A rupture in the pipeline would contaminate the primary water supply to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

 

 

 

The Dakota Access Pipeline protests are defined as an unprecedented moment in history, ignited by the actions of the Lakota youth, of whom united all seven bands of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota (Sioux) Nation for the first time in over 140 years, along with over 200 tribes and thousands of non-indigenous allies from around the globe for one purpose: to protect the water. Although the physical encampment has been forcibly removed and the Sacred Fire extinguished, a spiritual fire has been lit among many.  As the resistance grows, the fight continues for indigenous, environmental, and humanitarian justice against the expansion of corporate greed.

 

 

 

See also:

Love and Rage

Book by Tracie Williams

 


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