As the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to heat up, it’s drawing global attention, and providing a platform for other environmental, indigenous issues.
Now into its seventh month, the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline keeps growing.
The demonstrations against the pipeline and encampments of opponents, dug in since this past April, have attracted an ever-widening kaleidoscope of people and interests. There are still hundreds of people in the camps, even with winter approaching.
A social-media storm also continues to swirl around the issue, in which it is sometimes difficult to sort rumors from facts.
Tuesday morning, supporters were rejoicing at a post that $2.5 million was given by an anonymous donor to bail out everyone arrested last week during demonstrations against the pipeline.
It turned out to be a hoax, according to a Facebook post by The Red Owl Legal Collective. Lawyers with the collective appeared at bond hearings for those arrested and denied any such contribution was received or used for the defense of arrested protesters.
Yet while many were quick to believe the big donation, a news release last week from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department about the arrest of a demonstrator who allegedly fired a gun toward officers was dismissed as propaganda. The demonstrator has since been charged with attempted murder.
In reaction to reports that the sheriff’s department was using Facebook to monitor who was in the protest camps, a blizzard of opponents began “checking in” on Facebook at Standing Rock no matter where they were. The sheriff’s office issued a news release stating they weren’t monitoring people on social media.
- Background stories: Here's a primer on the pipeline project, including the key players on all sides, a brief history of broken treaty promises and a closer look at the courtroom battle. And here's what we're reading related to the controversy.
- March 28: What the completed Dakota Access pipeline means for key players.
- Feb. 23: Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp closed; 46 holdouts arrested.
- Feb. 22: Preparing to leave, Standing Rock protesters ceremonially burn camp.
- Feb. 13: Judge rejects tribes’ bid to halt Dakota Access Pipeline; feds plan to shut down protest camp.
- Feb. 1: Hundreds rally as the Seattle City Council considers divesting from Wells Fargo because of its role as a Dakota Access Pipeline lender.
- Jan. 24, 2017: Donald Trump signs executive orders advancing the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says it will push back.
- Dec. 4, 2016: Tribes celebrate as Corps rejects Dakota Access pipeline easement
- Nov. 21: Washington tribes urge that Obama stop, reroute Dakota Access Pipeline
- Nov. 12: Hundreds rally in Tacoma against Dakota Access Pipeline
- Live updates from from Seattle Times journalists on the scene Oct. 26, 27 and 28.
- Oct. 25: Tribes in Washington state call on President Obama to improve federal consultations over infrastructure projects
- Oct. 24: Citing treaty claim, protesters occupy land a rancher recently sold to pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners.
- See photos from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
Social media is also driving donations.
Kate Cichy, regional communicator for GoFundMe, the online fundraising platform, noted the campaign to support the Sacred Stone Camp, the first of the camps formed this past April, has raised more than $1.3 million, with more than 27,000 donations.
It is the fourth largest-ever campaign since the site was created in 2010, Cichy said. The largest single donation was $10,000.
More people continue to arrive from around the world at the protest camps in a remote sweep of land along the Missouri and Cannonball rivers in North Dakota.
Indigenous leaders representing native forest communities from the Amazon and Central America under siege from development arrived at the camp Tuesday.
Faith-based organizations in Bismarck, N.D., have called on clergy of all faiths to travel to North Dakota on Thursday for a rally in support of the Standing Rock Sioux.
Back in Washington state, the Medicine Creek Treaty Tribes, including the Nisqually, Puyallup, Muckleshoot and Squaxin peoples, are staging a rally and march on November 12, from noon to 3 p.m. in Tacoma. Since it was announced on Facebook Tuesday, more than 500 people already have said they are participating.
Some tribal members from Washington have made multiple trips to the camp and intend to make more.
Rachel Heaton of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is headed to Standing Rock with her two daughters Nov. 18 for her third trip. She intends to stay through Thanksgiving.
“It isn’t only about Standing Rock,” Heaton said. The spotlight on the struggle over the pipeline in North Dakota is also a way for indigenous people and their supporters to call attention to what they are fighting for in their home territories, she said.
“It’s about putting indigenous people back on the map,” Heaton said. “Getting our voices back.”