Standing Rock | Keegan Gibbs

RVCA Advocate Keegan Gibbs is standing with Standing Rock. Hear from Keegan on the efforts made to protest this injustice and protect the sacred land and water of the Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project (DAPL for short) is a $3.78 billion project being built to transfer tar sands oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, all the way down through South Dakota, Iowa and to Patoka, Illinois where it will join existing pipelines heading to refineries in the Gulf and East Coast. The DAPL could transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The Army Corps of Engineers fast tracked the projects approval, with the most controversial section of the construction passing below the Missouri river, and across multiple Native American Sioux tribe sacred sites and burial grounds, without discussing the project with the Sioux. The Standing Rock Sioux says the pipeline crosses directly thru sacred sites, including burial grounds, as well as potentially destroying their water source, the Missouri River. The pipeline was originally slated to cross the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, but the citizens and authorities voiced their concern with potentially polluting the capitals water supply, so the Texas based Energy Transfer Partners company rerouted further south thru farm land and the nearby Standing Rock reservation. Protests started last January, and by April, reservation residents and supporters from nearby tribes created a camp to observe the daily construction of the pipeline and to further protest it along the way. By the beginning of September, protests escalated, with a private security firm for the pipeline attacking protestors with dogs and pepper spray. Shortly after, the state filed for a "state of emergency" normally reserved for environmental disasters, which opened up tax-payer funding for outside state police forces and national guard to help act as security for the private pipeline project on private land. This is an unprecedented allocation of funding and resources for a private company, doing illegal and unpermitted construction work on private land, disregarding the Native American sacred sites.

Mainstream media has been almost completely silent of the protests and project. Dozens of financial institutions who are invested in media companies, are also invested in the pipeline, including Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, WellsFargo and JPMorgan Chase. A week prior to the nations elections, we traveled to North Dakota to bring supplies and show solidarity not just with the Standing Rock tribe, but an unprecedented gathering of hundreds of Native American tribes from across the country that historically have never gathered together in peace, as well as hundreds of non-natives who have come together to protect what is crucial to life and sacred to all, Water. Mni Wiconi, which translates to Water Is Life. If you are also enraged by the actions of the Energy Transfer Partners construction, their security tactics and disregard of natural resources and human injustices, as well as our governments lack of intervention, please donate to the StandingRock .org Tribe directly. Even if you only have $5, it matters. The camp is about to e nter extremely cold winter conditions, and is in need of cold weather materials. Support Standing Rock here. Photos by Keegan Gibbs.


Standing with Standing Rock

Film/edit by Keegan Gibbs.


We arrived our first night and set up camp among a vibrant and large campground, filled with teepees, tents, fireside chanting and an energy that was completely indescribable.

As non-natives, we came in solidarity, but with a respect for the historical division between us and Native Americans. Kamalei Alexander, pro surfer from Kauai who has recently relocated to Oahu, in considerable awe of the grounds. Hawaiians too have a history that runs deep with invasion of their land, resources and disrespect for their human rights.

Also traveling with us was Teva Dexter, Tahitian via Hawaii to come show his solidarity with the Standing Rock. Waking up the next morning after a shockingly freezing night of sleep (most of us barely slept as we were massively unprepared for the 28deg temp.

Sunrise revealed a haze filled campground even larger than we anticipated. Tents, structures, teepees and smoldering smoke from the previous nights fires filled the air.

This helicopter would hover at very low altitude for a few hours every day, shooting photos of the protestors in the camp, assumingly for identification.

This small prop plane circled the camp every minute 24 hours a day, other than to refuel. It is believed the plane has a Stingray device onboard that acts as a fake cell tower to gain access to all the protestors below cellular device communications, listening to phone calls, reading text messages and more.

Every morning there was a meeting and prayer at the sacred fire in the middle of camp. The organization of the camp was remarkable, with first aid, daily community meetings, proper protest etiquette training etc.

What looks like a pile of trash is actually the remnants of the north camp, where police with swat gear unexpectedly came in just days before and pulled everyone out of their tents against their will, slashed all the belongings with knives, and dumped the belongings on the side of the road.

People gathering above the bridge that separates the camp ground and the construction site.

Kamalei with a couple of Native Aunties, overlooking a threatened portion of the Missouri River and sacred site for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Water Protectors on horse back, sometimes without a saddle riding bareback. Scoping the scenario from above.

U.S. Navy veteran, Petty Officer 1st Class Kash Jackson, came to North Dakota to uphold the Constitution by protecting the American citizens he swore to defend. By flying the flag upside down, it signals distress, which he associates with the natives struggle with over militarized police acting on behalf of corporate interests. He is quoted as saying, "Our greatest enemies are not overseas, our greatest enemies are right here."

The organization of the protest camp runs deep. Here are two beautiful women we were fortunate to meet, Nicole and Melissa who help run a midwives organization that operates within the camp. A few weeks before we arrived, they delivered a baby on the grounds, and continue to offer services and support for women of the camp.

our group huddling around our small camp fire in the below freezing conditions at night, boiling some water for tea before bed while we talk story of the day.

The police / military presence was there to send a strong signal of intimidation to protestors. Snipers and monitoring vehicles lined the tops of the hills in all directions, and guns were consistently pointed in the direction of the unarmed protestors. However the spirits of the Water Protectors has not been broken or intimidated.

rom left to right, Theo Friesen, Teva Dexter, John Hildebrand and Keegan Gibbs.

this is the beautiful body of water that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has gathered to protect, not just for themselves but for everyone down river, including the Mississippi river that it joins with and empties to the Gulf. Please show your support for Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) and show your solidarity in any way you can, either by posting on your social media or donating to the cause. Thank you.




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