Standing Rock and accountability

Standing Rock echoed violence of the past and, for many people, awoke desire for atonement.

 

Two years ago this month, protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline began. As with so many important things, this movement started small, with people slowly trickling toward the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the Northern Great Plains. That trickle eventually became a torrent of protesters who stood together against the pipeline company, its private security and a contingent of militarized police. Many protesters were members of tribal nations from around the world. Others were not, and this issue’s cover story focuses on one such group.

It is not a happy story. It is a cautionary tale, deeply rooted in American conquest. As U.S. colonizers expanded westward, they erased the Indigenous people they encountered along the way, destroying entire towns, mutilating and murdering men, women and children, banning languages and customs, taking land. These now-United States, ever reaching for the horizon, were built this way, from the Ohio River Valley to the Pacific Ocean. This is a fact, and each of us who lives in this country, Native or non-, bears the psychic scars.

No wonder, then, that the protests at Standing Rock drew so much support. The standoff echoed the violence of the past and awoke in many people a desire for atonement. Among them was a group called Veterans Stand. This hastily assembled advocacy group was made up of well-intentioned military veterans, who came together to push back against the aggression faced by the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters. In a particularly iconic moment, the group staged a formal apology to tribal leaders for the past crimes of the U.S. military against Indigenous people. Veterans Stand raised $1.4 million — and then spectacularly imploded.

Editor-in-chief, Brian Calvert
Brooke Warren/High Country News
What happened to all of that money? Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler and Contributing Editor Tristan Ahtone, a citizen of the Kiowa Tribe, spent the last nine months trying to account not just for the funds that went toward the group but for the millions and millions of dollars that were poured into the #NoDAPL movement as a whole. What they learned was that people have a much greater capacity for charity than they do for accountability. A lot of money has gone missing. Some of it went to good causes, but plenty was wasted. HCN’s investigation focuses on just one group, but we could have written a similar story about many others.

Ultimately, the protests failed to stop the pipeline, but their legacy will endure far into the future. Standing Rock re-ignited this magazine’s desire to tell better stories from Indian Country; we now have a desk dedicated to tribal affairs and more stories told through Native writers and editors. Good, bad and ugly, we all live in the West together, and it is my hope that the stories we tell can help us learn from our mistakes and be more accountable for our actions.

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...