The NDN Covid-19 Response Project Click here

October 6, 2018

The DAPL Fight Continues in the Bayous and Swamps of Louisiana.

From the Bakken Oil fields and the plains of Standing Rock, down to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, Indigenous people are still fighting the pipeline every step of the way.

This is not Standing Rock. You will not find endless tipis or a row of flags from every tribe in America. There is no caravan of 10,000 US military Veterans making vows to storm the drill pad, looking for absolution, healing, or purpose. There is a small dedicated group of people that have been fighting the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months, now called the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.


L’eau est La Vie

L’eau est La Vie resistance camp was established directly in path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. This camp is led by four Indigenous women with the blessing of the local Indigenous people. We held ceremony here to give honor and respect to the ancestors who came before us. The land accepts us here, and everyday there are quiet moments of profound beauty. L’eau est La Vie means water is life, a battle cry we learned back home from Lakota Country.

The land accepts us here, and everyday there are quiet moments of profound beauty.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind this project, altered the route to bypass camp rather than to have engage in an extended fight. The fight didn’t stay at camp, it spread out along the 160 mile route of the pipeline from Lake Charles near Texas all the way to the community of St. James, a community established by free Black folks along the banks of the Mississippi.

Actions

In spring there were many Direct Actions that shut down construction of the pipeline. Some were somber prayer filled water ceremonies that led processions of Water Protectors on the easement off the pipeline. Before sunrise we would decide roles, in those quiet moments people volunteered to stand in front of the equipment, the bulldozers and excavators, in the event the workers decided not to stop. I seen people step up and in all seriousness lay their body and their life on the line to stop the pipeline.

It wasn’t all seriousness; there have been folks masked up as crawdads that performed Crawfish The Musical ™ on the pipeline itself, much to confusion of local law enforcement and pipeline security. Series of songs and performances that tried to drive home the simple fact that crawfish cannot survive in polluted waters, a fact keenly resonate with crawfishermen.

Out in the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin there have been tree-sits, occupation encampments, arial blockades, lockdowns,construction site walk ons, water blockades by kayak, and work stoppages by drone activism. We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at this pipeline.

Legalities

In Louisiana most institutions are aligned with oil interests by default and the courts are no exceptions. Yet despite the built in predisposition to petroleum companies there have been mutliple lawsuits in favor of the folks fighting the pipeline. ETP’s Coastal Use Permit was denied until they create an evacuation route for St. James. There has been a ruling that water protectors have a legal right to be on the private land they have been tasked to protect by land owner Theda Wright.

Looming over all the smaller legal victories is a new Bill that increases penalties for protesting on the pipeline route to felony levels. Trespassing in Louisiana was a misdemeanor, but pipelines are now “critical infrastructure,”.. As of Aug. 1, trespassing near oil and gas pipelines in the state is now a felony offense, with a possible sentence of up to five years in prison. We were bailing people out of jail for 300 bucks, now the record for highest bail set was $61,000.00.

Escalation

Since we have been effective at shutting down the pipeline construction at key points, our adversaries have been increasingly more violent and unhinged. In June of 2018 Cherri Foytlin, the Indigenous woman leading the day to day of camp was assaulted outside her home near L‘eau est La Vie. In July a fan boat driver employed by the ETP put a gun to the head of one of the Water Protectors and cracked another across the jaw with the butt of a shotgun.

In August Water Protectors kayaking in a legally protected navigable waterway were dragged by off duty correctional officers and were arrested for felony trespass. Later, a water Protector in an arial blockade was forced to the ground then tazed by law enforcement.In September four water protectors were attacked by police while on private land they had the right to be one, were choked, slammed to ground, and beaten by local police.

Recently journalist Karen Savage and Lakota activist Anne White Hat were arrested after a prayer ceremony for allegedly being on the easement. Undeterred, we went back out into the swamps and had a successful day of actions but upon returning to our vehicles we found our tires were slashed and the boat ramp stalked by shady characters. Lastly and most importantly we have credible sources that let us know someone or some people plan on killing Cherri Foytlin after this campaign is finished.

We are doing our best to be remain safe while looking out for one another and still fight the pipeline. From the Bakken Oil fields and the plains of Standing Rock, down to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, Indigenous people are still fighting the pipeline every step of the way.

June 2020 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.
Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Recently published on NDN

Posted 8 months ago Alcatraz Canoe Journey: Honoring 50 Years of Indigenous Resistance and Persistence

Jade Begay

"If we work to reframe Alcatraz as a symbol for Indigenous sovereignty and reposition it in people’s psyche that way, it could be a very powerful thing, especially for people who are so often forgotten overlooked and marginalized like Natives in America."
Posted 4 days ago NDN Collective Announces Black Hills Bail and Legal Defense Fund Following Mt. Rushmore Arrests
Following arrests of Indigenous Treaty Defenders blocking the road to Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3, NDN Collective announces a bail and legal defense fund.
Posted 5 days ago NDN Collective Calls for Closure of Mount Rushmore and for the Black Hills to be Returned to the Lakota
In the lead up to President Donald Trump's visit to Lakota lands, NDN Collective calls for the closure of Mount Rushmore as a national monument.
Posted 2 weeks ago NDN Collective Announces the Radical Imagination Grant for Six Indigenous Artists
The NDN Collective Radical Imagination Grant will provide six Indigenous artists in the United States or U.S. Territories with $50k to radically imagine a new future, a better normal, and a more just world for all people and the planet.
Posted 3 weeks ago NDN Collective on Honoring Juneteenth: a Time for Action and Collective Liberation
In honor of Juneteenth, NDN Collective calls upon relatives and allies to take action and make personal commitments to unlearning the untruths of American history while learning the real truths of our past and present.
Posted 1 month ago Joint Statement: NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for George Floyd
Indigenous organizations NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for #GeorgeFloyd and an end to systemic racism
Posted 2 months ago Biden to stop KXL pipeline if elected- VOTE! and hold him to his word
NDN Collective calls for mass mobilization with voting in response to Joe Biden's announcement that he would stop the KXL pipeline if elected.
Posted 2 months ago SD Tribal Nations are exercising sovereignty and protecting citizens with checkpoints-- Noem should take note
NDN Collective's statement of solidarity with SD Tribal Nations exercising sovereignty and protecting citizens with checkpoints during COVID-19.
Posted 2 months ago NDN COVID-19 Response Project Awards $2.5 Million to Indigenous Communities in April
NDN has made awards to 95 Tribal Nations and Indigenous-led organizations totaling over $2,500,000 in grant awards. Selected grantees represent Indigenous communities from 23 states and Mexico.
Posted 2 months ago "We will continue leaning in": Nick Tilsen on COVID-19 Response

Nick Tilsen

NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen recaps the past month of mobilization in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted 2 months ago In Case You Missed It: Native Americans & COVID-19 Town Hall

Sarah Sunshine Manning

This town hall was part of IllumiNative's #WarriorUp campaign which works to shine a light on the impacts and needs resulting from COVID-19 in Indian Country.
NDN Collective
317 Main St #1
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2020 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.