As Native American protestors faced down police in riot gear backed by helicopters and Humbles on Thursday, a massive herd of buffalo appeared on the horizon and raced across the North Dakota plains.
Journalist Myron Dewey was questioning an unidentified pipeline protestor about the recent violence at the Native American rally when a massive herd of buffalo appeared on the horizon and stampeded across the plain.
“The only reason we are moving back is because they are armed with batons, tear gas, riot gear, weapons, rubber bullets. That’s what it takes for them to push us back. They carry weapons just because they’re scared.”
The unidentified protestor starts to speak again, but is interrupted by the sight of the stampeding animals in the distance.
The Standing Rock Sioux keep a herd of buffalo on their reservation so the appearance of the animals isn’t miraculous, but the sight did serve to strengthen
Native Americans honor the buffalo as a symbol of sacrifice and believe that as long as the animals, considered a gift from the Great Spirit, continue to survive, the tribes will remain free and strong. Indigenous people use the meat and hides of the buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter.
When the animals appeared near the North Dakota pipeline protest, the activists there began shouting in joy saying their prayers had been answered, Dewey told RT.
“The ancestors are with us.”
The appearance of the buffalo, Tatanka in Lakota, comes on the heels of a violent clash with police that saw 141 “water protectors” arrested after North Dakota officials brought in reinforcements from seven states.
The Native American protestors and activist allies are protesting the construction of the $3.7 billion North Dakota Access Pipeline slated to carry 470,000 barrels of oil every day across 1,172 miles and four states.
Protestors argue the pipeline will destroy burial sites and sacred Native American land while any break in the pipe could contaminate the water supply of millions of Americans living downstream.
Thursday, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters, calling themselves “water protectors,” set up tents and teepees on property owned by the pipeline construction company. The tribe doesn’t recognize the land claim and instead argue the property is theirs under a 19th century treaty.
North Dakota authorities don’t recognize their claim and ordered the protestors off the land; after a tense standoff they began firing beanbag rounds and pepper gas into the crowd and used a high-pitched siren noise.
The water activists responded by lighting a fire on a nearby bridge and throwing Molotov cocktails at police, camp coordinator Mekasi Horineck told CNN.
“When they saw this military force coming over it took us back to days of the cavalry riding in and wiping out a village.”
The violence at the pipeline protest has prompted an outpouring of support on social media and condemnation of the treatment of Native American protestors by law enforcement.
The hashtag #noDAPL trended on Twitter, and Robert Reich, President Clinton’s labor secretary, compared the harsh treatment of Native Americans to the recent acquittal of the Bundy Brothers who took over federal land last year.
Alicia Garza, founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, also spoke out on social media about the violence at the pipeline protest, according to USA Today.
“If you’re white, you can occupy federal property… and get found not guilty. No teargas, no tanks, no rubber bullets… If you’re indigenous and fighting to protect our earth, and the water we depend on to survive, you get tear gassed, media blackouts, tanks and all that.”
The pipeline protest has largely been ignored by the mainstream media, despite celebrity endorsements and an arrest warrant issued for presidential candidate Jill Stein. This week, members of the Indigenous Life Movement protested outside CNN’s Hollywood building to complain about the media giant’s lack of coverage, one activist told U.S. Uncut.
“We want our mass media to do their job diligently in showing the truth of what’s going on there, so that the masses out there, the people can be informed correctly,
What do you think about the North Dakota pipeline protest and recent violence?
[Featured Image by James MacPherson/AP]