Brandon Ecoffey: #NoDAPL resistance is the start of a movement

Tribal citizens at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site near Cannonball, North Dakota. Photo courtesy Arlo Iron Cloud

Peace and prayer will allow the resistance to grow
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

Note: Lakota Country Times Editor Brandon Ecoffey wrote this column before the August 24, 2016, hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The judge declined to issue a ruling at that time but promised one before the end of next week, September 9, 2016.

When this column hits newsstands a federal judge in Washington, D.C., will have made a ruling on the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline. No matter what the judge determines, at this point and time the smart option for all water protectors is to follow the lead of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who is urging that all who have come to show support remain diligent and most importantly peaceful.

For so long Native people have endured the efforts of both federal and state governments to kill us off through direct violent confrontation and through the subtle effects of escaping and maneuvering their way out their responsibilities to provide public services to us as citizens of individual states and beneficiaries of the treaty process. Still, our populations continue to grow and our resolve is more powerful than ever as we are now beginning to scratch the surface of our potential as spiritual and political entities. What is happening in North Dakota is the beginning of a movement led by our people to rise up against the power of capitalism run amok.

What has been interesting about this gathering of protectors is that although the peace and prayers have not brought the media like protests surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, or the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, MD, it has brought with it an unprecedented level of support of people from all over the country. This is important as this issue impacts all people who need water to live.

There was a time when Native people had to show westerners how to survive in this world and a similar time is quickly approaching humanity once again. The continued expansion of the human population along with the destruction of our natural resources on behalf of the Monsantos and Enbridges of this world is driving humanity to a point where resistance will be the only option against dying of thirst. This world simply cannot survive the practices of corporate farming and the continued use of fossil fuels. The times in coming when life must come before profits.

For us as Native people the fact remains that we have very little to lose in regards to what is valuable in a capitalistic sense. What we do have is life and prayer. We have always had these two god given assets and we have used them to sustain ourselves through things as horrible as an attempted genocide. There is no government or state entity that could ever take these things away from us. Without water, however, there cannot be life.

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The indigenous people of the northern plains understand that we need water to live. Within our communities there are people who know what it is like to feel their bodies dying from thirst. Some of us have witnessed it and some have survived it. When someone takes themselves to this point they quickly realize that water truly is life. Maybe the absence of this understanding is why so many non-Native people want to develop this pipeline and continue forward with this game of Russian Roulette with our clean drinking water. If you are for the pipeline I would challenge you to go 24 or 48 hours without a drink of water. Only then will you begin to understand the dangers of a world with limited drinking water.

No matter what happened on Wednesday our people remain opposed to this pipeline and the peaceful resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline will continue to grow.

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He can be reached at

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