It’s important that enterprising reporters cover Native issues in the right way. Today, I’m happy to highlight a solid example of such reporting. When protest is a crime, part one: the Standing Rock effect is the first of a multi-part podcast from the talented team at Outside/In, a division of New Hampshire Public Radio. It examines the criminalization of protest in America through the lens of Indigenous resistance. Both my father, Lakota Law co-director Chase Iron Eyes, and I sat down with reporter and producer Justine Paradis to lend our perspectives. I encourage you to listen to what we had to say.
Click to listen to our appearance on the Outside/In podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio. Photo of Oceti Sakowin Camp by Irina Groushevaia on Flickr.
In 2016 and 2017, when we formed the resistance camps at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), it quickly became apparent that our movement was going to have an unusual kind of impact. Other tribes showed up in force. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez traveled to our homelands and decided while there to run for office. U.S. veterans arrived on the scene in support of our cause, rattling the established order. In all, tens of thousands of people helped us make worldwide news, and we succeeded in raising public consciousness to the point that President Obama actually shut DAPL’s construction down.
You probably know what happened next. Newly elected, Donald Trump quickly overturned Obama’s decision and fast-tracked the pipeline. And then, the conservative backlash really kicked in. Over the next several years, states began creating policies meant to chill citizens’ right to free expression under the guise of infrastructure protection. The federal government even tried to make it legal for law enforcement to kill protestors. Thankfully, after people like you sent thousands of messages to legislators, that particular bill didn’t make it out of the Senate.
Nevertheless, things remain tenuous today, and that’s why we must keep shining our lights on nefarious efforts to silence our voices and roll back our rights. Using clips and a series of interviews that include personal stories — like my own about watching my mother get arrested — Justine and her team deftly do just that. They examine the NoDAPL movement, various forms of direct action, and the history of Indigenous resistance. Please give the podcast a listen, and share it with your network. Then keep your eye out for the second episode, slated to drop later this week!
Wopila tanka — thank you for being a part of our resistance.
Tokata Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
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