Photo by Joe Whittle
Journalist, tribal member, and Wallowa County native Joe Whittle will share his experiences at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota, at a talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Wallowology Natural History Discovery Center, 508 N. Main St., Joseph.
Whittle’s presentation is titled: Standing Rock and the History of Resource Extraction on Native American Lands. The admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Whittle’s talk will include examples of damage this and other pipelines and mines have done to Native Americans’ health and sacred lands.
Early in November 2016, Whittle joined a group of eastern Oregonians for the 1,100 mile drive to Standing Rock, North Dakota, where thousands of people, including members of more than 300 native tribes, gathered to support the Standing Rock Band of Lakota Sioux and their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile- long underground conduit planned and mostly constructed to transport oil from the Bakken shale-oil fields in North Dakota to oil tanks in southern Illinois.
Protests erupted because the unfinished segment of the project crosses burial grounds and sacred sites on the Standing Rock Reservation. The pipeline also threatens the tribe’s water supply where it crosses the Missouri River. Tribal members and their allies call themselves Water Protectors.
The pipeline could carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
“Pipelines go through pristine landscapes, and they have tremendous potential to pollute the ground, groundwater and water supplies,” Whittle said. “They go through Indian Country. It’s part of a pattern—a very intentional pattern.”
While at Standing Rock, Whittle observed protesters injured by water cannons and hoses, batons, rubber bullets, and physical beatings. His daughter, a 4.0-grade-average Stanford University student, was fired on by police while she kneeled to pray beside a state highway. Other protesters were taken to the Bismark North Dakota Hospital’s Emergency Room with serious injuries, Whittle said.
Whittle sees good coming from the protests. Thousands of people have spent time at the encampment to support Native American values, including people from Tibet, Japan, and New Zealand, and more than 300 Native American tribes.
“This gathering of nations is unprecedented in Native American history. There is a sense of history in the making,” he said.