Sacred Stone Camp, the first NoDAPL camp, was set up on LaDonna Brave Bull Allard’s property near the Cannonball River. Now she’s spreading lessons learned from the months-long, often brutal battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline across the world.
“Standing Rock was a seed. Standing Rock was just this little thing that went into the ground and now it’s growing everywhere and spreading everywhere,” Allard told APTN Investigates. “We developed what we call Camp 101 and we’re spreading it to the camps, how to organize, how to set up, how to feed your camp, all of these things.”
The seeds of Standing Rock immediately spread to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Territory which is Joye Braun’s home turf. Braun was one of the first four people to establish a camp near Standing Rock.
Now, she calls Wakpa Was’te Camp, in Eagle Butte, South Dakota home and she is still standing in opposition to Dakota Access and renewing the fight against Keystone XL (KXL).
“Much like you saw Dakota Access go just outside of Standing Rock, KXL will go just outside of Cheyenne River,” said Braun, adding it is not her first fight against KXL.
Joye Braun sits at her camp in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. (APTN/Damian Joseph)
She calls it the “zombie pipeline because it just keeps reinventing itself.”
Lessons from Standing Rock have also spread to Canada and specifically to British Columbia and the fight against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
First Nations leaders like Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation are leading the way.
“Standing Rock brought the people together and that’s what’s going to happen here. But it would be different,” he said. “I don’t think it will get as hard as it did and it was brutal that that happened. That’s a violation against the laws of humanity.”
“In a way it’s going to be like Standing Rock, where the story is going to get out there but in a way it won’t be like Standing Rock because Canada wouldn’t do that to its citizens.”
Kanahus Manuel is protesting against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion in British Columbia. (APTN/Laurie Hamelin)
Kanahus Manuel, who faced charges for her time at Standing Rock that are now dropped, has been leading the charge against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“What we saw at Standing Rock we saw major human rights violations, we saw major international Indigenous rights violations by ignoring completely that there was a treaty there in the first place,” she said.
Law enforcement came down hard on protestors at Standing Rock aided by private security contractors. Leaked documents to online investigative news organization “The Intercept” revealed the lengths the military contractor TigerSwan went to on the North Dakota prairie and the collaboration with local law enforcement.
Alleen Brown was one of the journalists who worked on the Intercept investigation.
“They met regularly to update law enforcement on what private security was gathering in terms of intelligence,” Brown said. “They also assisted on responses to large actions, and in at least one case, assisting with an arrest, they provided resources such as vehicles.”
The same documents also paint Chase Iron Eyes, a lawyer from Standing Rock as one of the leaders of the NoDAPL movement, as a “jihadist.”
“They’re calling me an Indigenous jihadist,” says Iron Eyes. “They’re calling me a terrorist. Immigrants, foreign immigrants on our soil who call themselves Americans and Canadians have the audacity to call me a jihadist or a terrorist. We’re living in an occupied terrorist state right now. A corporate terrorist state.”
Joye Braun was also shocked by what was coming out of the internal TigerSwan documents.
“They called me a jihadist. Me. I’m the one that said no guns,” said Braun. “I’m the one that says, take your camp knife and get it back to camp. Stay in prayer. I’m not a jihadist. All I want is water. Clean water.”
Millions in donations
APTN Investigates also learned that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received roughly $11 million in donations.
“I know that there was probably about, for the entire movement, there was probably about $40 million that was raised in total,” said former tribal chair Dave Archambault II. “I can’t tell you how or what the other $29 million was used for.”
(Former tribal chair Dave Archambault II. APTN/Damian Joseph)
Current tribal chair Mike Faith said he feels many people took advantage of Standing Rock’s name.
“I truly believe it was probably used in a wrong way,” he said. “Some of it actually was spent in a good way here with some of the local groups that were here. But again, some of the fundraising that took place wasn’t even close to these areas. Over 5,000 accounts and of course out of that Standing Rock was just one.”
Over an eight-month period in 2016, nearly $8 million was raised by more than 1,200 GoFundMe accounts in support of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The movement was the second highest campaign of the year on the popular crowd funding site.
The “Official Sacred Stone Camp” campaign raised on behalf of LaDonna Brave Bull Allard brought in more than $3 million alone. But she says she wasn’t behind the campaign.
“I never did create a GoFundMe account. How cool is that? But I read it in the paper,” she told APTN Investigates. “We had a good man out of Southern California who started GoFundMe for Sacred Stone, which raised $3 million. And Sacred Stone did finally get the funds into their account, but it was never $3 million. We never got that. And most of that was spent before the camp closed.”
Joye Braun said she has no doubt some of the money raised for the NoDAPL movement was misused.
“I’ve seen it yet today,” says Braun. “People saying they’re water protectors and raising money, but they’re only using it for themselves. They’re not using it for the right things. That’s why this camp has to be accountable.”
Kanahus Manuel who is leading “Tiny House Warriors” against the Trans Mountain Expansion, said she’s ready for a fight.
“Let’s go then if you want a battle. You want a battle against this pipeline, you’re facing off with great power when you’re facing off with the last of the wild Indians here on the west coast,” she said. “We’re unceded in our territory and our mind.”
While the physical location of the movement in Standing Rock was lost, the movement carries on.
Holy Elk Lafferty, is one of the last leaders of the camps and she said she is often asked what is next.
“For me it’s been a continuum. It has never stopped.” she said. “We’re all continuing to fight. Now, camp is the globe. Camp is everywhere.”