Fighting for Tino Rangatiratanga with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

By Te Ringahuia Hata

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Centre Kingi Snelgar

Fighting for Tino Rangatiratanga with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

The protest in North Dakota by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation over the destruction and desecration of sacred burial sites and cultural sites by construction crews to build a four-state $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) has turned into a psychological warfare as tribal nations and supporters faced horrific dog attacks on peaceful protesters and their horses on Saturday.

Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said protesters reported that six people had been bitten by security dogs, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, he said. Preskey said law enforcement authorities had no reports of protesters being injured.

“Sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artefacts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were destroyed by Energy Transfer Partners,” states Tribal Chairman David Archambault II.
Immediately recognising the need to stop this process, on August 4, 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with attorneys from Earthjustice filed a motion with supporting documents for a preliminary injunction against the DAPL. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued the initial permitting for the pipeline. Federal Judge James E. Boasberg rejected the motion to ignore the injunction request and ordered a status conference on September 14, leaving room for discussion after his ruling September 9.

Most recently, representatives of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said the same, and that the Tribe must have a say. The forum’s chairman Alvaro Pop Ac called on the U.S. to provide the tribe a “fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”

Māori lawyer and activist Kingi Snelgar has been at the site in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Standing Rock Reservation the past few days and assisting where he can. Snelgar released the following comment this morning via a make-shift communications tent set up on site that “It is pretty horrific what is happening here and we need media, especially Māori media all over this”.

Kingi has just graduated from Harvard University and is currently working as a judge’s clerk at the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Snelgar spoke at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to discuss how the UN could better facilitate relations between states and indigenous peoples.