Joye Braun Explains Why “There Are No Acceptable Rerouting Options”

Obama, Extortion and the DAPL: Joye Braun Explains Why “There Are No Acceptable Rerouting Options”

Gyasi Ross

As many of you witnessed, the State of North Dakota is getting more violent in its treatment of the Water Protectors on the Standing Rock Reservation. Peace officers are spraying streams of pepper spray in the faces of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators for doing nothing threatening at all other than being Native and vocal. 

Still, despite the on-going treaty violations, racism and assaults on Native people that are going on in Standing Rock, President Obama wants to “… let it play out for several more weeks and then determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to traditions of the first Americans.” While the notion of letting on-going treaty violations and violence “play out” seems unconscionable, in fairness, it seems as if Obama is paying some attention to his Native advisors.  He told Lawrence O’Donnell, “We’re monitoring this closely, and you know I think that as a general rule my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans.  I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.” 

That’s an understandable approach and acceptable to many. Reroute. In environmental organizing, that’s called a “NIMBY” approach—“Not In My Back Yard.”  It’s like harm-reduction in drug counseling; where you know a harmful behavior is going to happen, but you want to reduce the toxicity of that harmful behavior, like a needle exchange program.  Even though it is not ideal for the pipeline to be built at all, for many who face the immediate dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it may seem like a reasonable compromise.     

Yet, according to Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), President Obama’s theoretical attempts to appease Native communities are off-target. 

Joye should know. The Indigenous Environmental Network has been organizing around this pipeline since there was still snow on the ground last winter.  Her and Wiyaka Eagleman were the first two campers at the campsite. She said the point is not simply to put this ticking timebomb somewhere else to explode.  “There are no acceptable rerouting options, there is only one solution: stop this pipeline. Obama’s administration is forcing a consultation process on infrastructure projects without recognizing the inherent rights to free, prior, informed consent. This is pure extortion on behalf of a company that has hired guns from the National Guard and different sheriffs departments. We are the eye witnesses to the atrocities happening right now today, but these same atrocities can happen to anyone at anytime.”

A NIMBY approach feels good in the short-term. Here, while it deals with the most immediate danger for the most vulnerable, it does not address the larger issue of predatory oil exploration that still, as a matter of empirical data, affects poorer communities disproportionately and destroys the earth. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation absolutely must get this pipeline out of its territory by whatever means necessary. A good leader must above all else protect the citizens and this reroute would do that. Therefore, it is 100% good for Standing Rock to utilize this to get its citizens out of harm’s way. Absolutely. But the truth is that Standing Rock Sioux Nation (nor ANY Native nation) should never be placed in this position to begin with; shame on the Army Corps of Engineering, the State of North Dakota and Energy Transfer Partners for forcing this decision, this “pure extortion” as Sister Joye brilliantly points out. 

And maybe it’s possible, as Joye suggests, to not only stop the Army Corps and Energy Transfer Partners from extorting the Standing Rock Nation, but also to stop this pipeline altogether. The two goals are not at odds.

In fact, they go together.  

My guess is that this battle is not going anyplace anytime soon. It seems that every measure that the bureaucrats think of are short-sighted and miss the point completely.  What is certain is that all of this is Native land and we need to protect it.  As Joye says, “There are no acceptable rerouting options, there is only one solution: stop this pipeline.”

Wesley Roach, Skan Photography





Gyasi Ross, Editor at Large

Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories

Twitter: @BigIndianGyasi

Instagram: BigIndianGyasi

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Sammy7's picture
Submitted by Sammy7 on
Is it not wise to remember that this is the best opportunity Indian Country has had to turn the focus onto Pope Francis to revoke the Papal Bull Inter Caetera? Although I do not disagree with Sister Joye, I believe her timing is wrong. Right now, while the world is focused on Standing Rock, this is a fine teachable moment to educate Catholics and others how maintaining the Papal Bull Inter Caetera enables the United States to claim dominion over Sioux Treaty territory. By eliminating the Inter Caetera it undermines the United States "claim" to dominion or sovereignty over Indian Nations, thereby calling into serious question the United States right to build the DAPL pipeline or any other pipeline through Indian lands. If we can muster one million people to support us on facebook, could we not encourage one million more to contact the Vatican and demand the revokation of the Inter Caetera? Lets get leadership busy on this effort.

jaytaber's picture
Submitted by jaytaber on
A few more weeks, and fair weather supporters will go home. After that, it’s Hillary’s problem. Fracking Bakken and the Gulf of Mexico then become Obama’s legacy. That, and death squads to protect US-supported sweatshop states like Indonesia and Honduras. Lucky for him he got his Nobel Peace Prize in advance of taking office.

stanleyheller's picture
Submitted by stanleyheller on
and another big big reason to not reroute the pipeline is from Bill McKibben as he wrote in Sept "Those numbers spell out, in simple arithmetic, how much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells we can burn if we want to prevent global warming from cooking the planet. In other words, if our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero. That’s right: If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. "

Submitted by kunga on
The Occupy movement targeted a corrupt Wall Street, a financial system fuelled by fossils. Standing Rock protectors, I believe, target something yet more fundamental: the high octane lifestyles to which so many are addicted. The Pipe they protest is not a peace pipe. it is an industrial war pipe. It has, for them, a significance similar to hypodermic needles scattered around a playground where children play. Everyone can see, breathe and taste the results of fossil fuels. The planet is changing, the icecaps are melting. The oceans grow more acid. And the fossil economy IS the economy. Insignificant numbers of us grow the corn, breed the swine, prune the grapes; we rely on machine systems sometimes known as corporations and other times bureaucracies. NIMBY holds scant sway when monster storms raze town and city alike. The rallying leadership provided by organizer Joye Braun, the responsiveness of 1rst 2nd and 3rd peoples. holds up the brilliant prospect many of us crave: a low energy lifestyle closer to the earth. What makes this so remarkable is the concurrent trend for space exploration and perhaps colonizing Mars; in other words farther away from the earth I imagine the truly inspirational leadership of the 21rst century will attempt to bring these distinct visions of the future into alliance.

BentsphereAlpha3's picture
Submitted by BentsphereAlpha3 on
Good Moring Native people, tomorrow we unite in force to stop the Dakota pipeline. Wear your shirt, cap and feather when you go to vote in this election, This is our time to unite as nation of indigenous people. Let the other races know we are still here and will not be pushed aside or forgotten.

BentsphereAlpha3's picture
Submitted by BentsphereAlpha3 on
Tomorrow, we as Native people stand as one in a Political arena. We have more rights to this land than the immigrants who transcended here, We are culturally attached ancestrally. please, regardless of your political affiliation, make your stand for Standing Rock tomorrow, Stop the pipeline. Those of you who are linked to social media, send out your native runners and pass the word, we attack tomorrow and defend native lands