Before Shailene Woodley’s Arrest: We Need to Pray!’

Dave Archambault Sr.

On October 10, the day the United States officially celebrated the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, Shailene Woodley was arrested for riotous trespassing behavior near St. Anthony, North Dakota.

Shailene and a few hundred demonstrators showed up at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site with placards, banners, and anti-DAPL chants. The protest was videoed from the beginning to the end by the movie star’s friend and may be seen in its entirety on a CNN facebook livestream.

“Rioting! What happened today can be termed nothing else but a riot!” That’s what the Morton County Sheriff Paul Laney gruffly declared to local TV, radio, and newspapers at a press conference for the evening news. Naturally, the media spun the riot story, which effectively imbeds an image of rampaging violence in the mind of a viewer, listener, or reader, who sees the story.

Yet, when the Shailene’s Woodley video is viewed there is no hint of violent behavior toward the armed officers—officers, it should be noted, who hold weapons in combat ready position. There is no destruction of property, and no throwing of objects, a typical characteristic of rioting. Instead, the demonstrators are shown clearly standing still while shouting. Some demonstrators are actually approaching the line of riot dressed police gesturing to shake hands, but in view of the world, the friendly gesture is never given a chance.

In the video, Shailene Woodley is heard murmuring several times, “ We need to pray.“

Rebecca Kemble came to Cannonball, North Dakota as a City Council woman from Madison, Wisconsin. On the same Columbus Day holiday, when Shailene Woodley was apprehended, Rebecca wore a badge on her hat indicating to law enforcement that she was a legal observer so as to not be arrested. The sheriff’s department says it was a riot. Ms. Kemble disagrees. “I never saw any rioting,” said afterwards. She said the demonstrators were there as part of a prayer ceremony. Rebecca Kemble, Shailene, and 21 others were arrested for rioting and trespassing.

From the start, Chairman Dave Archambault II, has called for prayer and stressed the imperative of non-violent behavior. Outside of a single clash with DAPL mercenaries who used attack dogs, demonstrators have adhered to the tribal leader’s request. Consequently, to date, no North Dakota law enforcement officer or non-Native resident has been injured.

The fact is that there were 127 arrests made by the deputies and sheriffs the weekend of October 22, and in all the more than 260 arrests total not one weapon has been confiscated.

In spite of no harm or injury to anyone and the reality of peaceful demonstrations, the general public is in a state of fear. This fear is the result of a steady stream of stilted propaganda by public officials and law enforcement officials implying there are dangerous, unlawful activities being conducted by Indians at the Oceti Sakowin encampment.

Colonel John W. Hendersen, the Omaha Army Corps of Engineers Commander, says there is nothing illegal going on at the encampment on Army Corps land. Tribal Chairman Archambault advocates a peaceful and prayerful demonstration and Shailene Woodley is an example of how the demonstrators are participating in prayer.

Despite these facts, the state of North Dakota has created a roadblock, mobilized the National Guard, flies surveillance planes and helicopters over camp airspace, and has mobilized Morton County Sheriff’s vehicles all over the landscape—all of which establishes the area as a war zone.

Environmentalists of all nationalities, concerned citizens, and even celebrities such as Shailene Woodley are actively demonstrating against the pipeline because those who are responsible for the pipeline construction continue to assert to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the citizens of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois that the pipeline will NOT leak or breach.

According to EPA research and studies, crude oil pipelines fail over 20 times every day due to welding failures and super-microscopic bugs that eat steel. The reality is that oil pipelines are dangerous, not the demonstrators who are praying with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The rupture information is irrefutable and the resulting horrifying stories should be disturbing to anyone who loves America. Ironically, this is the basis of the conflict. Some people love nature and some people love money.

Acts of dehumanization occur when a person or a people are systematically discredited or lessened to the point where nothing about them is valid. This is exactly what is going on with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the demonstrators who stand in the opposition against the DAPL pipeline. Those investors with stock in crude oil production have the money, the resources and the power to direct a dehumanizing campaign against Indian people and their sympathizers. Cases in point: Shailene Woodley’s support for the environment is discounted as the act of just another Hollywood liberal; a peaceful prayerful demonstration is branded as rioting by law enforcement; an officer claims he saw a pipe bomb.

Acts of dehumanization also occur in courtrooms, such as when the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe submitted legal briefs outlining years of protests including dated documents expressing opposition nearly two years before the pipeline’s approval. These documents show repeated requests for consultation. However, the judge simply turns a blind eye to a tape-recorded tribal council meeting that occurred in 2014, during which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe admonished the Army Corps for even suggesting building a pipeline under the Missouri River.

Eighteen months later, in April 2016, the Tribe was notified that the pipeline was not only approved but would go less than 500 feet from the reservation boundary.

The dehumanization fallout is impactful and filters down to the average North Dakotan. Such a person hears and sees the compromised news reports, and innocently thinks, “Well, from what I’ve read, the Tribe had ample time to voice their opposition. They didn’t so, it’s their own fault.”

In Reno, Nevada, on the same Columbus holiday of Ms. Woodley’s arrest, more DAPL demonstrators were not so subtly dehumanized. In Reno, Indian and non-Indian witnesses say young men in a white pickup truck were taunting and even stalking the DAPL protest parade before the truck surged forward and plowed into the demonstrators, sending some to the hospital. And true to the meaning of dehumanization, the young men were simply questioned by police without arrest, as if the victims were at fault.

Shailene Woodley is a genuine heroine and warrior in behalf of the environment. She will probably be negatively impacted for her support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Her targeted arrest is intended to ruin her career, as movie producers will no doubt be pressured to stay away from her as she hangs out with troublemakers. Not a good public image, right?

The good news is that the dehumanizing call to protect North Dakotans from the Indians that resulted in 40 Wisconsin Dane County sheriffs coming to North Dakota has now seen those same officers return home. They were scheduled for a longer stay but because they know the difference between a riot and a peaceful demonstration, and they know when something is right and when something is wrong, they’ve packed their bags.

Dave Archambault Sr., is best known as the Indian School Whisper, aka Joe Bucking Horse. He has been a voice for future generations by advocating empowerment schooling models for Indian learners of all ages. He earned a masters degree from Penn State and has headed the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, American Indian College Fund, Sitting Bull College, with experience as Tribal Councilman, School Superintendent, Principal, and currently sits on a BIE grant school and Fort Yates public school board, and is the chairman of the Board for the American Indian Business Leaders organization.

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