The USA’s Green Party Presidential Candidate, Jill Stein has visited the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota to support the call for an end to construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Stein joined the call of thousands of Native Americans and supporters across the country earlier this year for an immediate halt to construction on the Pipeline.
In a video posted to the Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page, Stein said, " This pipeline is especially critical, it will be over half a million barrels of poisonous Bakken oil every day that is pumped through that is poisonous to the water. it will be crossing some 200 rivers and streams and tributaries, it puts at risk not only the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation it puts at risk the water supply for millions of people downstream in the Missouri River so it's absolutely critical to protect this land, to protect these sacred sites and to protect this water we must win this battle."
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many others have spent months attempting to block construction of the 1,172-mile pipe and believe the environmental threats it poses have been ignored.
The pipeline would transport up to 500,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day across the country to Illinois. It would pass under the Missouri River which is the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and impact a number of sacred sites and treaty territories.
At the weekend a confrontation ensued at a work site near Lake Oahe as people opposing the pipeline breached fences and attempted to stop bulldozers conducting earthworks.
The people opposing construction say they were attacked by private security guard dogs and pepper sprayed.
Energy Transfer which is the company in charge of the pipeline construction hired the security team.
When Māori Television questioned the company over accusations of the use of dogs and pepper spray, a spokesperson, Vanessa Granados responded in an email saying, " The safety of our workers is our top priority and we will do all that is necessary to ensure they are safe, including having security along our right-of-way."
While Energy Transfer claimed their security staff was injured by protestors, footage and photos circulating online seemed to reflect a different story.
Native Americans and people who attempted to stop the earthworks posted images of people with dog bites and suffering the after effects of what appeared to be pepper spray.
Members of the Sacred Stone Camp also say a pregnant woman and children were among those bitten in the exchange.
A story by independent news programme 'Democracy Now' producer and journalist Amy Goodwin captures the events as they unfolded. Her full report can be viewed below.
Following the incident, an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order on Dakota Access Pipeline construction was filed by legal counsel for the Standing Rock Sioux.
The memorandum supporting the motion stated that just 24 hours prior to the digging up of the land on the 3rd of September, the site had been identified as a sacred site of important historical significance to the Sioux people.
It also outlined that the tribe had submitted recently discovered evidence on the 2nd of September that the area was of sacred and historical significance with important stone features and grave sites.
A Tribal cultural expert, Tim Mentz Sr, is quoted in the memorandum describing the site as, "one of the most significant archaeological finds in North Dakota in many years."
The memorandum says that less than 24 hours after filing the evidence, the area had been bulldozed by Dakota Access construction workers.
A Facebook post by a representative of Mdewakanton Dakota, Dallas Goldtooth, said the area the bulldozers were working on was a sacred site that included grave markers.
Goldtooth’s post read, “Dakota Access literally plowed through a burial site and a significant ceremonial site that was JUST identified by the landowner and tribal members. This was off-reservation. They plowed it before a state agency could come to the site and do a survey, with which the agency (SHPO) could trigger a work stoppage thru the site.(sic)”
Over 500 people participated in a peaceful march which he says “reflected the truest intent of this movement and struggle, the necessity to protect and defend the sacred.”
A federal judge is set to make a ruling on an injunction filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop construction on September 9th.