KARIM-ALY KASSAM: Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the traditional lands of the Cayuga. And, therefore, it is appropriate that this event begins with that acknowledgement. It is my honor to ask Sachem Sam George, a chief of the Cayuga people, to welcome Chairman Archambault, leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Sachem George.
SACHEM SAM GEORGE: [SPEAKING CAYUGA] Welcome. And what happens is usually, when we have newcomers or people come visit, we have a words before all else. And I'll just do a short version today, because we have big, big things going on. [SPEAKING CAYUGA] That part means we all bring our minds to one. [SPEAKING CAYUGA] Sorry. Where was I? [SPEAKING CAYUGA] I'm sorry. I'm a little nervous here. Lot of people in partner. I still get this way. [SPEAKING CAYUGA] And a good welcome. And I have a present for you from all of us. [INAUDIBLE]
KARIM-ALY KASSAM: Thank you, Sachem Sam George for gracing this event and sharing with us the words that come before all else. Representatives of the Cayuga Nation; executives of the Seneca Nation; representatives of the Oneida Nation; Dr. Laura Spitz, Vice Provost for International Affairs Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Chair of the Department of Natural Resources; Dr. Jolene Rickard, Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program; students and faculty; ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today.
I am told that this event is being watched from California to Central Asia, in the Kyrgyz Republic, in Tajikistan, and in Afghanistan through Livestream. It is tradition in my department that we begin our events by acknowledging those who have made it possible. The work of staff, students, and faculty in the Department of Natural Resources, in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program, and at the vice provost's office have made this event possible. Thank you, all.
Now, it is my honor to introduce a soft spoken, gentle, courageous, and thoughtful man, who needs no introduction. Members of my research group at Cornell University have been undertaking research in partnership with tribal institutions in Standing Rock for nearly a decade. I've had the opportunity to interact with Chairman David Archambault several times. And I'm consistently impressed with his humility and his commitment.
He was recently named by Foreign Policy magazine as the global thinker of 2016, for his stewardship of the Dakota-Lakota homeland. Just 24 hours ago, in Washington, he received the Native American Leadership Award from the National Congress of American Indians.
When we conceived of the Department of Natural Resources' seminar series, we asked ourselves, how can our diverse scholarship activities demonstrate and build hope? We looked around and saw tremendous work being done here and elsewhere, in partnership with communities and scholarly institutions. Concrete efforts were being made to bring about hope for the future.
Today, let us listen and then act wisely, because we have a man here, despite recent setbacks, where his community and he are building hope, not just for themselves, but for humanity as a whole. Folks, please help me welcome Chairman David Archambault, leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: Thank you. You said you're nervous. I just hope that if I have anything that I can offer, that you receive it. And I'll try to do my best. And one of the things that I want to do is make sure that we do create that hope, the hope that is necessary for the future. And so when I look at everything that I do, it's always trying to base my decisions on the best outcome for the kids who are not even born yet.
So there's a lot of things that I face with every day. There's a lot of different challenges where I live. And I deal with them on a daily basis. And it's not always easy. But as long as I put a focus on the future, I could sleep at night. So that's kind of how I look at things.
So what I'll do is I'll try to-- if I could instill any sense of hope in where we have to go-- and I'll talk a little bit about the history of my nation, of why we are in this stance. And I'll try to tie it into what we can do in the future and the things that we have to be aware of.
So with that, I just want to first start by thanking Sam George for the welcome and for letting me be on your lands and all the leadership who has come. I created friendships with many tribal nations across the country. And it's hard for me to remember names, but I know faces, and I know character.
And I know I have some really good, close friends that I trust. And that's just because of the support that I got when I was in a time of need for it. So I thank you guys for being here and showing your support.
Karim, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. Karim was at Standing Rock. And I promised to come out here to try to find ways to create food sovereignty on Standing Rock Food sovereignty, how can we produce our own food for our own members and not depend on processed food? How do we grow our own food? How do we produce our own food? How do we package our own food? And how do we make that food available for the rest of the nation?
And so that was our discussion. And I promised him I would come out, and we could have that conversation here. This was in 2015, before pipeline was a big issue, before Dakota Access Pipeline was a big issue. And so I promised him I'd come. And we set this date. And I made sure that I was going to be here for it.
So I'll start by just going with our history. So as indigenous peoples, the first peoples of these lands, we entered into treaties with other nations. And it was something that wasn't uncommon. It was about peace. And so there's different types of treaties that were honored and created.
And one of the treaties that we entered into, with our own membership, was not on paper. It was with the peace pipe. So a pipe was loaded. And that pipe was a reminder. And it never was smoked. It was filled with [INAUDIBLE] our tobacco. And as long as that was filled, our treaties were honored. And then, around here, they use wampum beads as a treaty.
So each tribal nation had a way, without writing on paper. And it was oral history and something that we've learned and known about. But in the early 1800s, when we started interacting with the Europeans, we started entering into written treaties. And early on, like 1803, our tribes entered into treaty. I want to say 1830s.
There was a treaty that was written that put us under the federal government. So that was one of the first things that happened. And then, in 1851, we had a Horse Creek Treaty. And this Horse Creek Treaty was on the North Platte River in Nebraska. And it was a trail from the east to the west. And there was a trail where-- they called it the Mormon Trail. And they were going up towards Oregon.
But there was confrontation. So 1851, we said we'll enter into a treaty with the federal government. And it encompassed 60 million acres. And the first thing on there, the first article was there will be no war. So it was a peace treaty with us.
And 1868, on the Fort Laramie Treaty, it was because there's a Powder River. There was a finger on our 60 million acres. And the Mormons were cutting across it. And we had a Powder River War. So we had to enter into another treaty. But in this treaty, they took some land from the 1851 boundary.
And because of that, our membership, our leaders at that time said, we will not cede any more land to the federal government, unless you get 3/4 of all male to agree, from the Great Sioux Nation. And that was kind of like-- today, what we call it is a poison pill. We'll never get that. So we understood that. And we knew that.
In 1877, this is important, because there was gold that was discovered in the Black Hills [INAUDIBLE] the plains. Because of this resource that the United States looked for, gold, which is more precious to them than life, they wanted that land. And so they knew that they couldn't get it. They knew that they couldn't get 3/4 of all males to agree to this.
So what they did was they came out, and they negotiated with a few leaders. But at the same time, 60 million acres was the territory that buffalo roamed. And buffalo were getting killed. So food was becoming a hardship. So it came to a point where we either have to sign or we have to starve. Sign or starve.
And I always resented the leadership at that time for signing, but I really didn't understand until today, in my capacity. I know what they were dealing with. It's hard when you're thinking about the future. What can we do? And what do we have to do when we have children who are not even born? So those leaders back then, when I think about it, were thinking about me. And I'm here today because of what they've done.
So it was an agreement that they worked not with Congress, but with agents. Federal agents came out. And in this agreement, they got 10% of the leaders to say yes, we'll agree to this. And our 60 million acres was reduced down to the west side of the Missouri River in South Dakota and cut out the Black Hills.
When we signed this agreement, the agreement went back to DC. And then, there was an act of Congress. So now, it's no longer treaties or treaty amendments. It's now Congress taking action, Congress saying, OK, we can take land. So another act came in 1889. And this act said, we will reduce that land to today's current day reservation.
So the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is on about the size of Connecticut, 2.3 million acres. We straddle North Dakota and South Dakota. We're along the Missouri River. , Today we have about 16,000 members. About 8,000 of our members live there on Standing Rock. So remember this number, 8,000 members. And that's who put me in office, in my office, in my capacity.
Soon after that, another act came. It's called Dawes Act. In 1908, we had-- It's also known as the Allotment Act. So what they did was they said, every individual here is going to be a lottee, and you're going to get land. And whatever's left over, we're going to open it up to settlers.
So when I think about why are they doing this, why are they continuing to take land, it's for economic development. In North Dakota and South Dakota, you have agriculture, grazing.
One good thing about Standing Rock is we'll see a lot of native grass. You don't see a lot of agriculture taking place. So agriculture, they'll kill everything, and they'll put one species, plant species in. With us, we maintain, and we try to protect the Native grasses that exist.
1914, there was World War, right? In 1876, the Great Sioux Nation and the Cheyenne defeated General Custer in a war, in Greasy Grass, Battle of Bighorn, Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana. And there was lessons from that.
Our leader, Sitting Bull-- I always used to say this. Does anybody know where Standing Rock is or hear of Standing Rock? And nobody would say-- and so I'd say, you know who Sitting Bull is? And Sitting Bull is a world renowned leader. And they all say, yeah. That's my tribe. But recently, I would say Standing Rock, and people know where Standing Rock's at.
So in 1876, we defeated Custer. Sitting Bull took off to Canada. And then, he came back. When he came back, he was considered hostile. So the federal government at that time implemented-- trying to think of the word-- simulation. Or it was to try to make him non-Indian. Assimilation.
And it was with his family. So with our tribe, you'll see a lot of the leadership was killed. Sitting Bull was killed. Any tribes that had resistance to the federal government, they would take the heads off.
In 1914, we had World War I. So the same names that defeated the United States were the same ones that were fighting alongside US in the First World War. And we had [INAUDIBLE] another war-- this was interesting. My wife and I-- my wife is with me. And I always have to point her out. She's the most beautiful thing ever. Sorry.
We got a chance to visit the President. And when we went to the White House, there's this room, the secretaries' room. And they have flags, all the flags from all the military branches. And they have the United States flag. And then, they have war ribbons hanging off. And one of these war ribbons, it had Pine Ridge.
And Pine Ridge is in South Dakota. So I asked, what is that ribbon right there? Every ribbon represents a war that the United States was in. And that was that one. That was a war in, I want to say, 1880, Wounded Knee Massacre.
They called it a war. And it was a war where they got the most Congressional Medals of Honor for the guys that mowed down with Hotchkiss guns women and children. And they were from Standing Rock. They left Standing Rock when Sitting Bull got killed.
So 1914, we are fighting in World War I. 1918. 1924, they say, you can be the citizens of this country. So before 1924, and in the 1800s, we weren't even considered humans. And if you look at all the acts that were taking our lands, we were not even citizens. We didn't have say. And so this is just the beginning of a lot of the wrongs that were committed. And there's similar stories to other nations, other tribal nations.
In 1934, there was an IRA Government Act, another act. You have to create an IRA government. Standing Rock said, no, we're not going to accept that government. We have our own constitution. 1914, we passed the constitution to organize. And we're going to stay with that.
But there was two things that came with the IRA. We received the benefits from the government. And we see their Constitution. Who pushed their Constitution aside, but we said, we'll receive your benefits. So in every decade, there was something happening with Indian country and with Standing Rock.
In 1944, in that area, there was this act. It was called the Pick-Sloan Act. And it was named after a general in the Army Corps of Engineers and a general in Bureau of Reclamation, Pick and Sloan. And it was an act to create a dam system on the Missouri River. And there were seven dams that were built.
So when we had the Allotment Act, our members were given a piece of land, 640 acres. And they said, where do you want your land? And everybody in our membership said, we want it by the river. We want it on the river bottoms, because there's trees. There's fruits. There's game. There's everything that we need to survive.
So if you look at Standing Rock, and you see the allotments, it's all along the Grand River and the Missouri River. And the rest of the farmland was turned into fee land that was settled by non-Indians.
So in 1944, Pick-Sloan Act, it was the largest dam system in the world. And by 1958, they completed the dam. And we had our most precious lands flooded.
And what was the reason for this? To create these lakes for recreation and for energy independence. So when I look back, the Black Hills, national security, gold is used to back the currency. Taking of our land is economic development to this nation.
And then, we have energy independence, hydroelectricity. So these things are coming up. Not only are these wrongs that were being committed to us, but because we were considered aggressive or hostile, our kids were taken and are put in boarding schools.
And when our kids were put in boarding schools, they were not allowed to speak. So I have a grandmother. She had passed away. But she was a fluent speaker of our language. And she did not speak to her kids, my dad, because she would get beaten in school if she spoke her language. And she didn't want that pain to go on to her children. So she did not allow them to speak our language.
And this was the federal policy at the time. The federal policy is kill the Indian, but save the man. Let's assimilate them as fast as we can. And if your tribe was considered hostile, the assimilation was more forceful. There was a lot of things that were happening that created trauma.
It's hard to explain the boarding school era. All I can say is if any of you have children-- I see a little one. Soon as she turns three years old, we're going to take that little one away and put them in another country. And they cannot speak the language, your native tongue. And if they do, they're going to get beat.
And not only that, the schools are going to rape them. That's what's happening to Indians in this nation. And so that hardship comes back. And when we have our students graduating high school, all they want to do is be home. They don't want to go to school anymore. They don't want to go to college.
What I'm sharing to you is kind of like the wrongs that have been committed to us. And there's been a lot of wrongs. And it's important that you understand that, so that you understand what happened at Standing Rock in this movement. It created trauma. It created hardship. We didn't do it to ourselves.
So if I look at the 10 poorest counties in this nation, 10 poorest counties, five of them are of the Great Sioux Nation. We have Pine Ridge, our Oglala, Rosebud. We have Cheyenne River and two of them on Standing Rock. So there's five of the poorest counties in this country come from the Great Sioux Nation.
And do you think that's something that we want or something that we're proud of or something that we want to continue? This is because of the treatment of what happened to our people.
And with poverty comes all the symptoms. So you have high suicide rates, high abuses, high alcoholism, high drug use, lack of housing, lack of law enforcement. These are symptoms. And it's not just common in any country. It's common in any area where there's poverty. You'll see the same symptoms wherever you go.
Nicole and I grew up on the reservation. And we have two children. Our daughter is 23, and our son is 17. I taught them everything I know, but they don't know anything.
But you have to have a choice. And our parents made a choice to stay on the reservation. Why did they do that? And so when it's our time, we have children. And what we can look at is the environment. And do we want to raise our kids in this environment?
And I say, yeah, because even though you have high poverty, there's so much beauty with our culture. There's so much beauty with our land. There's so much beauty with the people. There's so much that is there that we love. And it's our choice.
And we know that if we love our children, no matter what, they're going to do good. So it was our choice to stay. And if you ever get a chance to visit any reservation, you'll see for yourself, with your own eyes, beyond the poverty.
You'll see the prairie grasses. You'll see the hills, the rolling hills. You'll see the people. You'll see the songs. You'll see the ceremonies. You'll see the things that we cherish. The community, all the communities. So that's why we're there.
Now, in 2003, in North Dakota, there was this oil boom taking place, taking off. So North Dakota became a state that was recognized in the nation as the lowest unemployment. But they didn't count the reservations. They didn't count our 60%. They just said, it's the lowest unemployment.
There's 20,000 jobs. People from all over the country were flocking. People were coming all over. And this oil boom brought a lot of things. Brought money, but it also brought crime, and it brought drugs.
When this thing hit North Dakota, I think marijuana was the drug that was on our reservation. But then we start seeing stuff like cocaine. That We never saw that before. It was stuff like heroin, black heroin, meth. Meth became something that is rampant. And it's different. These drugs are completely different.
So in 2007, our tribe said, we don't want pipelines in our ancestral lands, because we saw not only the bad that was coming with the social ills with this oil boom, but we saw the environmental ills. And we saw unregulated pipelines being punched in. We saw fracking solutions, fracking water. Am I raspy?
SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: OK. That's crazy. [INAUDIBLE] So in 2012, we had a tribal member going around Standing Rock, trying to lease land. He was going around buying fee land. And he was going around telling people that he wants to frack. His name is [? Joey ?] [? Wicks. ?] He's going to frack on Standing Rock.
So the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said, we don't want that. We know what happens to the environment when you do that. So we said, we don't want this. Not only that we don't want the fracking. We don't want the pipeline. So we took action way before Dakota Access Pipeline.
2013, There's this KXL Pipeline. And it's trying to cut through our treaty lands. And there's this stance. There's a movement by reservation, by tribes in Great Sioux Nation, saying no KXL Pipeline. But we officially opposed it. We also sent letters to the Department of Interior, the EPA, Department of the Army. We sent letters out saying, we oppose this. And we also passed resolutions opposing KXL Pipeline.
2013, I get elected as the chairman of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. And the only reason I get elected is because I want to try to-- I love our people. I love our home. And I know that we're in a state of dependency. I know that there's poverty.
But that's not the only thing there. I know that we can do things like food sovereignty. There's all kinds of opportunities that we can pursue. And if I could just bump us in a new direction, and if I could-- our focus has been focusing on our children.
Instead of having a 50% dropout rate, and then of the five who graduate, only one goes on to college, we could invest in our kids. And all the problems, the issues that we have, we create the brilliant minds to solve all the things that plague us.
So that's why I became the chairman. And I know this is something that took place over 200 years. I can't reverse that overnight. I can't reverse that in my term. But I can nudge us in a new direction. So that's what it is, showing that I care for kids and that if we invest in them, they'll have the answers in the future.
2014 comes. There's the Dakota Access Pipeline. And we have this company approaching our tribal council, saying we're going to build this pipeline right here, 500 feet away from your lands.
And the tribal council and I said, don't do it. You're going to meet resistance. And we have it. It's on YouTube. If you look it up, you'll see the meeting. And it's verbatim, the conversation that we had.
I go home, and I tell Nicole about this. And she says, what's the big issue? Well, it threatens water. What's that? Why is that important? Well, she's telling me that-- that's why I said that's funny. She don't even bathe in water. I'm just teasing. I have to pick on Nicole. I love her, so she understands.
But water is important to us. Water's a part of our ceremonies. Water is-- it's a source of life. So water is a source of life, just like the sun is a source of life, just like this Earth is a source of life, and just like the air that we breathe is a source of life. Those are sources of life that are beings need to exist, so that our spirits can occupy these bodies that we're in.
So we call it [INAUDIBLE]. We have [INAUDIBLE] We have a word in our language. We say [INAUDIBLE] which means we're all related. But it means that everything is connected. Everything is related. So it's important. Water's important.
And it was something that started with our kids. Our youth said, we don't want oil in our water. And they made a stance. And they ran to DC. And when our kids speak up, it's time for us to stand behind them. It's time for us to support them. When they want to say something, we encourage them to say it. When they want to do something, encourage them to do it.
And it's a different time for me, because when I was growing up, it was hard for me to identify as who I am or what I am. But our kids today are saying, I want to learn the language. I'm proud to be Indian. It's cool to be Indian. And so we are very supportive of them.
In 2015, we did everything that we could. We wrote to all the agencies. We visited DC. We went to Department of Interior, went to EPA. We went to Advisory Council Historic Preservation. And we got them to write letters in support.
And our argument is that we never had an opportunity to have a say in the scoping of this Dakota Access Pipeline. If we did, we would have said, stay out of our treaty lands, because there are sacred places there, something that's important to us.
And so, by protecting the water, it helps us remember and know what our ancestors had left behind. And it also helps us protect the future for children who are not yet born.
So in 2016, there was a notice of construction. All of our efforts went to the wayside. This company, Dakota Access Pipeline Energy Transfer Partners just kept pushing through. And when this first notice of construction started, the movement began. There's a huge movement. And it continues today. There's still a movement today.
In 2016, it felt like the first time we were heard, on December 4. The Department of Army said we're not part of that. We went to court. We had to file a court case. We knew that our chances were not very good, because throughout history, federal court has never ruled for tribes.
So we know that our chances-- and we know that the deck is stacked against us. We know that the federal laws are in place. We know that this company has complied with the federal laws. But yet they didn't consult us. We had an argument, when we took them to court. We wanted to take them to court. It was something that we had to do, even though we knew the deck was stacked against us.
And first, we filed a temporary restraining order, saying you're going to destroy our sacred sites. Don't go through there. Company continues to work, and the judge rules in their favor. They destroy sacred sites. So all of our initial court case was on sacred sites and consultation. We lost that. But it doesn't mean that it's over. We're going to continue the fight.
When the court ruled against us, the Department Interior, Department of Army, and Department of Justice wrote a memo saying, we're not going to approve of an easement for the company to cross our land, until we take a closer look at this and do some further reviews.
And then, in December, 2016, they didn't grant the easement. And they said, until we conduct environment impact statement-- and that was something that we were asking for. To get approval, they will give an environmental assessment. They will get a FONSI, Finding of No Significant Impact. And they will get a 404 permit.
And then, the last thing they need is an easement across the federal lands. The agency said, we're not going to give that, until we do an environmental impact statement. They put a notice in the Federal Register, notice of intent in the Federal Registry.
And then, the new President took office. And the new President said, we're going to do Dakota Access Pipeline. We're going to restart KXL Pipeline. And he wrote a presidential memorandum.
So we're still in court over this matter. We appealed what the judge did. And things were changing, because our complaint that we filed was starting to look like null and void, because they went and destroyed all the sacred sites.
And the judge ruled, saying that we were consulted, because we had 380 correspondences with the Corps of Engineers. And those correspondences were, we're not consulting with you until we get an opportunity to share. Well, we need to consult. Well, we don't want to consult until you give us the opportunity. So we went back and forth with emails and phone calls.
So in February, this month, February 8, there was-- let's see. The week before that, I was trying to get a hold of President Trump. And I've been trying different angles. How can I get to this guy and let him know why there's a movement, why there's resistance, why we have a problem with this pipeline?
I know he said that. I know what he's doing. So maybe if he just hears us-- so I was optimistic. If I just get an opportunity to get in front of him.
The President said, in his presidential memorandum, he said, we're going to approve these pipelines, because it creates economic development and jobs, creates national security. And it creates energy independence.
So when I hear those things, I said, perfect. I get to talk to him. And I could show him that today, we are continuing to pay that cost for those things. While this nation benefits, there's a cost-benefit. Who pays the cost? And it's bringing harm on our people. And it's going to create another. So I wanted to have the opportunity.
First week of February, I finally got to talk to someone in the White House. His name's William Kirkland. I talked for an hour, said I need to sit down. I need to show you. I need to show you. I need to talk to anybody in the White House, anyone who would listen, that you cannot approve of this easement. And so he says, OK. We'll meet on February 9.
February 6 is a Monday. We have a status conference on our court case. And the judge asks the Department of Justice, what are you guys going to do? Make a decision on this presidential memorandum. And they say not until Friday, which would be February 12 or February 10. OK, I have some time, one last chance. Make a run at it.
That was February 6. February 7, I'm flying to DC to meet with William Kirkland in the White House on February 8. February 7, I get a call. Can you call the general? I call the general. We're giving the easement. We're canceling the notice of intent for an EIS. And we're going to waive the 14 day congressional notice for the easement.
So that's the call I get. And so I feel like I got slighted by this. The reason I feel like that is because we originally had our meeting set up for Monday. And then, they moved it to Wednesday. And then, I go on Tuesday. And Tuesday, they come out and let me know that.
So I try to forgive. There's some lessons that I learned. And one of them is to forgive. But it's really hard when somebody does that to you. I feel like I was set up.
So that's kind of where we are. And we filed a summary judgment two days ago. And our argument is that there was no change in circumstances. The Department of Army gave a notice to do an environmental impact statement. And because there's no change in status, they need to honor that.
But the one question that we always ask the Corps of Engineers, and the reason why we got the environmental impact statement from the beginning was because we asked a question. What is an oil spill going to do?
What impact is it going to have on our lands, on our treaty lands? What impact's it going to have on our people? What impact's it going to have on our heritage, our culture, our language? Can you tell us what that oil spill will do to our environment? We will be the first ones that are affected by it. Can you tell us? And they couldn't.
So that's when Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary for US Civil Works said, we need to do an EIS. And then, this President comes in and takes away. The Administrative Procedures Act says they can't do that.
So we now we are also saying we have treaty rights. We entered into this treaty. So I started talking about treaty. We have treaty rights. And those treaty rights are hunting, fishing, and our water. And those three things have been successful for tribes in the past, when we've filed claims on them.
So we're pursuing those. And I believe that we have a strong argument. I know we have a strong argument. It's just going to depend on how the judge sees things.
And it's crazy, because we have this billion dollar company, who's coming in acting like the victim, like we are hurting them. We are keeping their project from going. And so we're going to continue to do that.
This movement has been something special. It's been something that I never anticipated. I never knew it was going to be like this. I never thought that it was going to be something this special, something this great, something this beautiful.
And I know it's because-- and I believe in the creator. We have a word, and it's called [INAUDIBLE] And if I was to interpret that, I would say that means creator. But in our way, [INAUDIBLE] means everything. So it's not like God or a puppet master. It's more like everything. And so the creator [INAUDIBLE] is guiding this.
And I believe in that, because there's been so much prayer. In August, September, October, when you guys came, you felt it. You witnessed it.
And then, I had a hard time. It wasn't easy. I have all the things that plague our people. And then, we have this movement. So 8,000 members on Standing Rock. At one time, we had 10,000 members at the camp. So 10,000 members. So that doubled our population.
So I always question myself. You can ask Nicole. I'm always questioning, am I doing the right thing? And I believe that the creator has been guiding me. Every time I had doubt, there was a tribe that showed up. And they shared a song. Or they shared a prayer. And they were behind me. And they gave support. So it wasn't as difficult.
There is momentum there. And we can keep that momentum going, regardless of what happens. And the sad thing about alternative facts-- does everyone know what alternative facts are? I call Facebook alternative facts. And there's a lot of things that are said.
And there was implosion that took place, imploding. And I was accused of stealing-- or not stealing, selling out, taking money. Or I had a house in Florida. All this stuff was on Facebook.
And it's kind of humorous to me. I don't have Facebook. There's a reason, because if I did, I would go crazy. I'm already going crazy. Ask Nicole.
So I don't watch social media. I don't pay attention to it. But someone will come, and they'll show me, look at what they're saying now. Well, the sad thing is it's our own members, and it's our own people who do this.
But I forgive them. And I understand, especially when it gets tough. So if I didn't love my people, I'd probably be on Facebook myself and firing back. I know what you did.
So that doesn't help anybody, though, if you react to negativity. It doesn't help me, doesn't help my wife, doesn't help my kids. So I have to let it go. I have to forgive them. And I could honestly look at them in the face and not have any ill feelings towards them, anybody who says anything bad about me.
So this movement is something that started Standing Rock. And it is about water. But it's also about what each and every one of us can do, because we know that this Mother Earth is in trouble. And all we have to do is look at the facts.
And I'm not trying to argue. I know there's this debate about climate change and global warming. Let's just set that aside for now. And let's say, what's going on?
The temperature of this Earth is heating up. The ice caps are melting. Glaciers are disappearing. The ocean levels are rising. Currents are changing. Coral reefs are disappearing. These are facts.
So there's something happening. And so we have to make a difference. And this is what this whole thing helped me understand.
And I'm guilty too. I drive a car. I wear clothing that has petroleum in it, the dyes. Everything in this-- I could look here, and I could see petroleum products. It's not our fault.
I get called a hypocrite because my wife and I own a gas station. But that's because that's the only thing available. And the means of transportation for us, for our community, is our vehicles. So it's OK.
But now we have to make a change. It's time for us-- if we want this planet, if we want to start forward thinking for our children that aren't even born yet, what are some things that we can do? And there's movements like this all the time.
I like this one. Let's change all our light bulbs, so they're incandescent light bulbs. Now I'll reduce my carbon footprint. That's not enough anymore. What are the things that we can do?
And just for my community, we had this hardship that is there. And it's about trying to look at the kids, invest in the kids. How do we get kids to want to make the difference? We have to believe in them. So when you see someone, when you see a little one, this is the change. It's so simple. Life is simple.
The change is acknowledge that little one. We acknowledge the baby. Acknowledge, and you'll see them light up. And believe in them. The children are going to be the ones who make the difference.
And then, we can also do things. I don't know why we have plastic bottles. What can we put water in, so that we don't have plastic bottles? There's a lot of things that we can do. But we have to start creating the demand, because this country is ran with money and greed.
We have a President who is driven by money and greed. So we have to create the demand and force that change. The reason why everything is in petroleum is because-- I don't know if you know who the Koch brothers are. They own Congress and all the rules and all the policies that allow for this pipeline.
So this thing that happened at Standing Rock is greater than just Standing Rock. And there's something each and every one of us can do. I used to think it was at the individual level. That's not good enough. All of you will make that change individually. But can you imagine if this town, Ithaca, changed?
And we've seen it with Las Vegas. All the light bulbs are powered with renewable energy. A community doing it. And the only way we're going to change is if we get the United States to change. So it is something that's bigger. And I do believe that the creator is driving this.
And it's possible. It's doable. And instead of saying, I'm guilty. I want to say, this is what I'm doing. I walked to Ithaca. I didn't walk here. It's too far to go. But we've got to create the alternatives, so we can all drive Teslas. We have to create the demand.
Electricity can be produced with sun or with wind. And so what do we do? And I think this is a perfect place to start. I know this community, this campus is moving in that direction.
So I don't want to talk. I want to let you guys ask questions. I know there's a lot of questions that you might have. And I'll answer them.
I didn't talk too much about the camp. I'll tell you right now, at the camp, there are people there. My focus with the camp is to make sure that we clean it and to make sure that people are safe. It is in the area where there's a flood zone. So we're going to continue to try to make sure people are not there.
And it is a real risk, because of the amount of snow that we had, the cold temperatures, and the ice damming up and creating a potential flood. And when that flood hits, if it's not clean, we become the contaminators. And we don't want that.
So that's our focus. That's been our focus the past three weeks. Nicole actually was out there and helping clean up. So this is what happened. 10,000 people, December 4. December 5, the snow storm hit. 10,000 people, a lot of them from California and the southern states.
So I come out, and I say, it's OK to go home. You can go home. And there was about 1,200 people left. And that's a peace of mind, because I'm not worried about all the other people. But at the same time, when they left, they didn't take everything with them.
So the things that they left behind is what we're cleaning up. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm just saying that I'm thankful nobody lost their life. And I'm thankful for the support. I'm thankful for this community and all the tribal nations who came.
It's powerful when we unite. It's powerful when a collective group come together. And when we do it with prayer, there's all kinds of lessons. And I could tell you a whole bunch of things about the lessons that I was given by the creator.
But that's another whole different seminar. It would probably take twice as long. So I'll ask if you guys have any questions. Just raise your hand, and I'll try to do my best to answer them. Go ahead.
SPEAKER 2: First of all, I'd like to say welcome. I'm a Cayuga woman, so welcome to our lands here. I have a lot of questions. But we just seen it on the news earlier today that there was a deadline for everyone to move from the main camp. But they said that there was still 200 people there. I guess my question is, what is going to happen with these orders to move away from the camp and let the workers come in?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: So what's happening is there is a flood risk. And the main camp is located off Standing Rock. So Standing Rock never gave an order. And in fact, Standing Rock has always been asking that the National Guard, the Morton County Police, the state government, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs do not use force to remove people.
And we've always been concerned about safety. Because we're concerned about safety, and because we're concerned about the environment, we ask people to voluntarily leave.
Now, that's where the implosion takes place. There's accusations that I'm doing that because I'm helping the pipeline go through. But I'm not. I'm worried about the environment. And I'm worried about the safety. So the orders that are coming out are coming from the state government.
And that land, where the big camp is, is off Standing Rock. And it's on Morton County land. And there is an argument, when it comes to treaty land, that there's treaty land and then there's federal lands.
Now, the argument that we have is there's a land dispute. We never ceded that land. And this case was tried in 1980 with the Black Hills. And the judge said that this was one of the worst things that ever happened to Native Americans, but you're not going to get your land back, the 60 million or the Black Hills. So here's $108 million.
So the Great Sioux Nation said, we're not accepting $108 million. So there's still a land dispute. Now, what we're arguing with our treaty rights are hunting and fishing and water. We know that those three things have been successful in federal court. We know that the land dispute-- there was an attempt to settle. And we didn't accept that.
But if we start that argument up here, I have to make sure all the Great Sioux Nation is on board, because what that's doing is that's putting it at risk. And all it will take is an act of Congress to say, you have to take that money. And it's done. And you don't have nothing. So we're not going there.
Now, because we're not going there, the state is going to issue these eviction notice. There are 200 people there. And I'm still maintaining don't use force. We don't want anybody to get hurt. And we're really fortunate, if you think about how everything made out that no lives are lost.
SPEAKER 2: Also, Native people from the outside-- not just Native, but non-Native people too-- how do we continue to support the people at Standing Rock and the movement? How can we support you guys in this fight?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: And I appreciate all the support. And you can continue to do it I think this pipeline is one-- as a chairman, I deal with health care and the law enforcement. I deal with welfare. I deal with education. I deal with housing. I deal with everything that you could think of. And include the pipeline in there now. And include the people.
So these are all the issues that I look at. And so when I base a decision, I look at how is it going to impact everything, not just the pipeline. So this is just one. And what I see with this new President coming in, everything is going to be attacked, our economies, our health care, our education. So it's a real threat. And we have to stand up and make it go beyond this pipeline.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate everybody, the non-Indians, the Indians from around the world, who came. Now what can we do? If we focus everything on this pipeline, there's a lot of other things at risk. We have to stand up.
And on March 10, we're going to rise in Washington to let this Congress know. And then, we're going to let this President, this administration know that we're still here. And we've been here. Regardless of what this country has done to us, we're going to continue to be here. And it doesn't matter which administration.
So what can we do? If you can't go to DC at that time, you can have a movement. And I know you have movements here in support. But what I think is important that we remember is, how can we make the changes at home? What are some things at home that can change.
And I know it's beautiful that we stand up for this. But for my community, I need my members to stand up against meth now, because meth is killing our people. I need our community to stand up against pollution. There's a lot of things that we can start standing up now. And this movement, it's an awakening. It's time now. It's time to do something and no longer sit back.
I get two questions asked every time I go somewhere. First question is, how are you doing? But it's more like this. How are you doing? I'm fine. I'm good. I have prayer. I have the creator. I have my family. I'm OK.
The other question is, what can I do to help? And what I say is follow your heart. You need to follow your heart. And your heart will tell you what to do. And it's that simple. Life is simple. Any other questions?
SPEAKER 3: What does mni wiconi mean to you?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: Mni wiconi. So mni wiconi in our language, it means life giving water. So there are a lot of things that give life. And there is a tag line that says life is war. Our water is life.
So if we start to interpret those three words. "life is water," "is" to me means equals. So if something equals something, it goes both ways. And this is stuff that I learned in math, right? So I would say water is like. Life is water.
So when we look at this, do we say is this life? Is this life? And so if this is life, then do we poop in it? Or do we look at it and we say, this is necessary for life? It's a source of life.
So there are many things that are sources. There are four things that are sources of life. And if it's a source of life, then what is life?
So life to me is an experience. We are all here in a moment in time. And we are experiencing things that we have to pass on. And we need to take the lessons that we learn in this moment, pass them forward. And to me, it's precious. Life is precious.
SPEAKER 4: Did you issue an order to evict the Sacred Stone camp today?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: No, I didn't.
SPEAKER 4: And did you use the BIA in any way to set up road blocks across camps or [INAUDIBLE]
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: No, I didn't. What I did--
KARIM-ALY KASSAM: That's enough questions from one person. Are there others who have questions? Because we don't want to accuse our guests.
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: No, I'll answer that one question. And I never used BIA. What the BIA does is they are the administrators or the trustees of allotted land. And so when somebody is out of compliance with allotted land, this happens all the time. The BIA will issue a trespass order.
And so I'm informed when they do things, but it's not something that I have asked for. Again, I asked that there's no force used, whenever they carry out their actions. And I've been thankful for all the support. And I appreciate everybody who has come. Any other questions?
SPEAKER 5: Can you comment The on the role of media, in particular independent media and indigenous media, have played in building awareness of the movement at Standing Rock [INAUDIBLE] everywhere?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: Media. So from the beginning, there has been concern that mass media will not cover this. So there's different types of mediums to get the message out. There's different ways to tell stories. And there's radio. There's television. There's news. There's movies. And then, we have social media.
So what social media did was it helped this movement go worldwide. When social media came about, people from all around the world got to see firsthand what's happening. And that also allowed for mass media to have to turn and take a look. And so we have had major networks like CNN, MSNBC. There's just different ones that came up and did a story.
But it's not the media that we had hoped for. And I think some of it has to do with politics and the type of stories that they want to cover. One time, we had an interview set up with CNN. And then, something happened in North Carolina. So they left. And they didn't want to be here.
What I took for granted was all media that was there was there to help with the movement, because we were not getting the attention that we're supposed to. And when I took that for granted, then I did an interview.
And that's why the question came up. What does water of life mean to you? What they do is they take what you say, and they splice it. And they only show what they want. So it doesn't help. What it does is it creates division. And what made this movement so powerful was the unity and the togetherness.
And so when I took that for granted, and these other medias came in to do interview, I assume that they were there to look good. That's OK, though. I don't hold anything against them.
I don't hold anything against anyone that has a resentment towards me. I have to let it go. And I have to forgive them. And I believe that the creator's only there to help, and he's going to guide us. Go ahead.
SPEAKER 6: Many of us from this area have been [INAUDIBLE]. We have a lot of relatives that have gone. [INAUDIBLE] We still have relatives there. [INAUDIBLE] So at this point in time, [INAUDIBLE] there are still people there. And then today on Facebook, we see [INAUDIBLE] That's very confusing, because they say [INAUDIBLE] efforts to stop them [INAUDIBLE]
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT: Yeah, we're going to continue the fight. And we started this two years ago. And we don't have any intention in stopping, regardless of what happens. And we understood that from the beginning that there's always a chance.
Even if this pipeline gets through, it doesn't mean that we're going to stop. We're always going to pursue-- we'll appeal. And we'll go as far as we can with this. We won't stop.
The big camp is in a floodplain. And there is a little high ground there. But that's off. Now, the other camp that has started-- I was put in a hard position, because my intention has always been for the safety of people.
And I wanted to set up an area so that people will move. And this is when it was nice. And I made that available. And then, at that time, people at the camp said, we're not moving. We're not going to move. But I still wanted to make that available.
And what happened was the community of Cannon Ball passed a resolution saying, please close the camps. And that was passed, given to our tribal council. So our tribal council has to listen to the members. And then, I follow out the orders of our resolutions that are passed. So it didn't allow me to put the land aside for them.
So there are some private landowners that are saying their land is available. So it really gets difficult. And people really don't understand all the things that I have to deal with. They make assumptions.
And that's OK. I'm all right with that. They'll attack me. And I just-- I have to listen to our members. And I have to try to do what's best to assure that people are safe and that this environment that we are occupying is safe.
KARIM-ALY KASSAM: Well, Chairman Archambault, thank you very much. [INAUDIBLE]
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David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, is a leading spokesperson for protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He has spoken on Indigenous rights before the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and written in the New York Times. He recently was named by Foreign Policy magazine as a Global Thinker 2016 for his stewardship of the Dakota/Lakota homeland.
Sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources. Cosponsored by the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs.