PICO Network's Eddie Carmona Shares Truths On Trump, the DAPL + the Buffalo Stampede [Interview]
In this country, there has been furor and anger over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was going to cut through a wide swath of northern and middle America. Much like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, people were not only concerned for the environment, but also for the sacred burial ground that — through government treaties — established the Standing Rock Sioux as its rightful owners. Better known as #NoDAPL, the grassroots movement rose to fight Energy Transfer Partners and Kelcy Warren‘s attempt to run a pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois. If successful, the DAPL would have crossed beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, as well as underneath Lake Oahe, which is near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Thankfully, because of the efforts of those such as Standing Rock Sioux elder LaDonna “Brave Bull” Allard, celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo and PICO Networks‘ own Eddie Carmona (and countless others) — the pipeline was temporarily denied an easement for construction due to President Barack Obama + the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers making an executive call. Now, all that has come under threat as the president-elect has gone on the record as not only supporting the DAPL, but is also one of the company’s prime investors. As frightening as that sounds, the Water Protectors, protesters and those concerned for the health of their environment continue to camp at the Standing Rock Sioux site, fighting to keep awareness on the issue until it is rightfully closed.
During the mainstream media blackout of the #NoDAPL issue, private security forces hired by Energy Transfer Partners attacked protesters and Water Protectors. With the weather worsening around the region, as snowfall and temperatures fell well below freezing, the police and security forces used items like pepper spray and water cannons, which resulted in hundreds of people injured, as well as a woman protester (Sophia Wilansky) almost loses her arm! You would think that there would be honor in fighting for the sanctity of clean drinking water, yet for people such as Eddie Carmona, we’ve only witnessed how low the federal and local governments will go to ensure corporations like Energy Transfer Partners has rule of the roost. With soon-to-be President Trump’s inauguration only days away, we flashed back to an earlier conversation we had with Mr. Carmona where he talks about why keeping up the fight is important, how Standing Rock is teaching us all to stand in solidarity against evil and what you can do to build upon the momentum already gained.
Okayplayer: “Hands up, don’t shoot!” is a common refrain we are hearing around the country with organizations such as #BlackLivesMatter. Can you talk about how the phrase applies to #NoDAPL? Also, for the uninitiated, can you share why the fight against the DAPL is important?
Eddie Carmona: We’re not really using that phrase at Standing Rock. We are saying that we are peaceful water protectors in prayer, as we stand up for our ancestors and protect water for indigenous communities. The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is important because DAPL is ignoring and trampling on sacred burial sites and picked the Standing Rock Sioux reservation as the place to build their “black snake” (oil pipeline) after residents of Bismark voiced opposition to having it built near them.
This is more than an environmental fight. It is a fight for native sovereignty. We know that our indigenous brothers and sisters respect the environment and always maintain a balance. If DAPL and the federal government respected the treaties, this would not be an issue for the Standing Rock Sioux.
OKP: [At press time] we are a few days away from voting for our next president, yet this has been an issue barely glossed over by both candidates. What does this level of behavior say about politics in this new age? Also, can share with us your thoughts on Trump and Clinton in relation to the #NoDAPL issue?
EC: Now that the election is over and President Barack Obama and the Army Corp of Engineers have denied DAPL their easement to proceed under Lake Oahe, there is much concern about president-elect Donald Trump and him being supportive of the pipeline. This is going to be an ongoing fight once he comes into office and it means that this fight will continue if Trump decides to grant the easement after he takes office. All signs point to him doing so.
OKP: Can it be said that racism in America is creating a fissure amongst its citizens? If so, please speak to how the Water Protects can overcome such behavior + feelings to defeat the DAPL.
EC: What is happening at Standing Rock is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime both with native communities and allies. Tribes who traditionally have been at odds with one another have set aside their differences and have come together from across the country to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux. In terms of allies, we are seeing a national and international outpouring of support coming from white, API, European, black and other communities of color who have come to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity. Standing Rock is teaching us how to be in a community and solidarity with one another. This is how water protectors are overcoming the racism that exists in the country.
OKP: As a community organizer with 10 years experience — what does it mean to you when celebrities get involved or offer support behind an issue such as #NoDAPL?