Following Saturday’s brutal attack on peaceful
protesters by private security mercenaries and
vicious guard dogs acting on behalf of Dakota Access Pipeline interests, it has
been revealed the company responsible for construction deliberately targeted
documented sacred and culturally significant areas for demolition — and crews
likely chose the holiday weekend in order to avoid a court injunction.
On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers backed a motion for a temporary restraining order halting further
construction. A federal judge ordered an emergency hearing, which will take
place later today.
Standing Rock Sioux and protesters from at least 100 Native
American nations and their supporters discovered Energy Transfer Partners
construction crews had decimated sacred burial sites and historic and
culturally significant landmarks early Saturday morning — less than 24
hours after the tribe had filed court documents concerning sacred sites.
The tribe’s historians had not been permitted onto the private
property until recently to assess whether the area held cultural or other
In court documents supporting the temporary restraining order, Tim Mentz, Sr.,
the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s longtime former historic preservation officer,
reiterated his filing of the newly discovered sacred sites in the path of
pipeline construction on Friday, and described how crews had deliberately razed
the entire area. Mentz wrote:
“From where I stood along the road, I could see that a significant
portion of the site we’d surveyed had been cleared. My son walked the length of
the site and confirmed that the entire area that we had surveyed that week had
been graded to a depth of more than a foot.”
Mentz requested but was denied permission to assess the scope of
damage. Even from a distance, however, he said, “what I have been able
to see is that any site that was in the pipeline corridor has been destroyed.
Sites that are immediately adjacent to the pipeline corridor are buried under
berms of soil and vegetation that are as high as eight to ten feet. Anything
under those berms is damaged if not destroyed.”
As Mentz explained, shallow graves in which the dead are buried
under rock cairns are common in this area — thus even the relatively shallow
one-foot depth the crews removed likely disturbed a number of gravesites.
Mentz — like other protesters, advocates, and observers — suggested
retributive, deliberate foul play on the part of the pipeline construction
company in the decimation of these sacred sites, as he described the nearest
active construction area being located some 20 miles away. He and others
believed that construction was in no way imminent anywhere
near the area he’d surveyed — in fact, in a court filing, Mentz mapped and
pinpointed precise areas of concern to the tribe.
“I do not believe the timing of this construction was an accident
or coincidence,” he stated. “It appears that DAPL drove the bulldozers
approximately 20 miles of uncleared right of way to access the precise area
that we surveyed and described in my declaration” to the court.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which has been allowed to intervene in
the ongoing court battle, also filed an emergency motion for a restraining
order on Sunday, stating, with emphasis added,
“Site Protectors of all ages, outraged at Dakota Access’s clear
intent to engage in construction while knowingly destroying sacred
sites identified earlier in the week, attempted to halt construction and
preserve evidence. In a calculated response, Dakota Access hired a
paramilitary security force to attack the site protectors, including
women, children, and the elderly with vicious and dangerous breed dogs, such as
Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, not trained for security service. Dakota Access
paramilitary squad used canisters of tear gas, and pepper spray against the
site protectors. A number of site protectors were injured by the pepper spray
and gas, and bitten by the vicious attack dogs.”
In a statement calling on intervention by North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple,
Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Harold C. Frazier called the
antagonistic attack “an act of terrorism,” and
denounced law enforcement for implying protesters broke the law first, thus forcing security
mercenaries to act. North Dakota homeland security callously removed the protesters’ water supply after similar unconfirmed
reports of lawlessness.
Further, Frazier noted, “According to many witnesses at
the scene, neither state nor county law enforcement officials were at the
construction site during the incident. It is extremely suspicious to me
that law enforcement became scarce at the exact time when DAPL’s hired guns
were planning to attack the water defenders.”
Witnesses also described cell service suddenly cut immediately before dogs attacked
demonstrators — and while police were not on scene, at least one helicopter
circling the overhead was believed to be law enforcement.
“On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners
brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and
culturally significant artifacts,” Tribal Chairman David
Archambault II stated, as quoted by the tribe in a post to Facebook. “They did this on a holiday weekend,
one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The
desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux
irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”
“Destroying the Tribe’s sacred places over a holiday weekend,
while the judge is considering whether to block the pipeline, shows a flagrant
disregard for the legal process,” said Jan Hasselman,
attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux, cited in the same aforementioned post. “The
Tribe has been seeking to vindicate its rights peacefully through the courts.
But Dakota Access Pipeline used evidence submitted to the Court as their
roadmap for what to bulldoze. That’s just wrong.”
On Monday, despite the Labor Day federal holiday, James E.
Boasberg — the same judge presiding over Standing Rock Sioux’s lawsuit against
pipeline construction — took action by ordering a hearing on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., concerning both the attack
and destruction of the documented significant sites.
In a court filing, the Army Corps of Engineers — the primary
defendant in the case — agreed that, in order to maintain peace and public
safety, it supported the motion for an emergency temporary restraining order.
Despite continuing construction by Dakota Access, the Army Corps
of Engineers has yet to issue the required easement permitting construction to take place. Boasberg is
expected to rule on the larger issue on September 9.
Deliberately targeting sacred sites for destruction belies a
darker motivation beyond typical corporate profiteering — in fact, it shows a
sickening and unprecedented degree of malice with no possible justification
As Frazier aptly and tragically summarized of the companies responsible: