Richard Broken Nose is a spiritual leader from the Pine Ridge reservation. On Wednesday, October 26, he and Leonard Little Finger, one of the Oglala’s most revered elders, came to pray with the water protectors near the Cannonball River. The next day, October 27, tension in camp was whirling. The state of North Dakota was arming and massing a large strike-force eight miles to the north.
A call went out in the main camp, Oceti Sakowin. Everyone was asked to go north to the new Treaty Camp along Highway 1806 because an army of sheriffs and National Guard troops were advancing toward it. The Treaty Camp site was located in the path of where the pipeline would cross the highway. Broken Nose and Little Finger decided to go. This is the story they told:
When they arrived, the confrontation was beginning to unfold. They built a quick altar on the pavement of Highway 1806, and began praying in a traditional Lakota pipe ceremonial manner.
Suddenly, they were surrounded by combat-ready militia. The small number of protectors taking part in the ceremony was maced. Broken Nose took a heavy blast of mace in the face as he let the ceremony. Blinded, he nevertheless managed to stumble back to his vehicle. After recovering somewhat, he went back to get his elderly wife. In all the spiraling confusion around him he searched for her. To his complete dismay, he learned that she had been arrested.
On Saturday, October 29, two United Nations rapporteurs flew into Bismarck to investigate the violent activities taking place at Cannon Ball: Grand Chief Edward John (Tl’azt’en) and Roberto Berrerro (Taino). The arrival of these two human rights observers was in response to the Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II’s recent trip to the United Nations in Geneva. Archambault pleaded for help from the UN and for relief from the state and federal government’s mistreatment of the Nation’s political and human rights.
In a meeting held Saturday evening at the Prairie Knights Casino, the rapporteurs told SRST Chairman Dave Archambault II, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier and others, that thanks to the power of “social media,” they were able to witness a whole afternoon of what appeared to be violations of international law.
SRST Chairman Archambault noted that the violations mentioned and seen by the UN representatives were all too predictable. “I called the Governor of North Dakota, the Department of Justice, Interior, the White House, everybody, asking that they try to intervene and restrain the aggression that was about to happen,” he said. “It seemed that it was going to be a senseless use of force that would result in a bully beating. And now we have outside UN professional observers who, I have no doubt will report to the world that the afternoon of Thursday, October 27, was like the police and National Guard hitting fish in a bathtub with a club.”
The SRST nation and their supporters are facing a desperate oil corporation that stands to lose a contract if oil isn’t delivered by January 1, 2017. Unfortunately, the UN rapporteurs have no ability to correct the wrongs of a governmental process that leaves American Indian legal rights and status at peril.