It looks like nature is weighing in on the Dakota Access Pipeline as protestors who have been facing police violence since yesterday were greeted by herds of wild buffalo. The Lakota and Dakota Sioux protestors cheered and ululated as the mass of wild creatures came close to their camp. The buffalo were herded to the camp by protestors on horseback.
The pipeline would carry about 470,000 barrels of crude oil every day to oil refineries. Oil spills are practically an inevitability, which directly threatens the surrounding ecosystems, including the Missouri river. The protestors focus on that threat in their mission statement, saying,"The Dakota Access threatens everything from farming and drinking water to entire ecosystems, wildlife and food sources surrounding the Missouri."
Peaceful protestors were met with rubber bullets, pepper spray, and over 140 arrests in yesterday in their ongoing fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The buffalo were a welcome sight to Standing Rock Lakota Sioux and their tribal allies as the continue to face police brutality. Some protestors herded the buffalo into the blockade on horseback and a few horses were shot by police, killing one.
The American bison, called "Buffalo Nation" or "Tatanka Oyate" by the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux once fed, clothed and housed the native people of the plains.
Adrian Jawort writes for Indian Country Today, "As long as the North American buffalo roamed free and bountiful, the Plains Indians were able to remain sovereign. Buffalo were their lifeline—the Indians had a symbiotic relationship with them, and always honored the mighty beasts for the many blessings they provided."
The Lakota Sioux followed the buffalo on their migrations and ascribed spiritual significance to the animals who supported their lives. Because of this reliance on the buffalo, the U.S. government endorsed and ensured the slaughter of the wild animals, forcing them to the brink of extinction and ultimately leading to devastation both physically and culturally to the native Americans.
Jawort writes, "Their warriors had fought valiantly against the Army in spite of their inferior numbers, but they now felt inadequate because they were unable to provide for their families. Those proud warriors were confined to reservations, told to farm and wait for the government to provide rations."
Hundred of wild Tatanka, Buffalo Nation arrive to support the water protectors at DAPL. https://t.co/WGxnYWnqi6— Brianna Marie Olson (@NokomisNotions) October 28, 2016
The presence of buffalo at the water protectors camp could be seen as a symbol of native protestors' resiliency against a silent government and against police who have attacked them and tried to silence their struggle by shooting down media drones. The activists continue to use social media to make their stories known to the world and stand up for their first amendment right to free speech.
Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II issued the following statement after arrests were made yesterday.
"The Department of Justice must send overseers immediately to ensure the protection of First Amendment rights and the safety of thousands here at Standing Rock. DOJ can no longer ignore our requests. If harm comes to any who come here to stand in solidarity with us, it is on their watch. They must step in and hold the state of North Dakota and Morton County accountable for their acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.
Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @miamaestro