Last February, as water protectors were being evicted from the camps in Standing Rock, the Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Harold Frazier opened the doors to them and allowed them to set up a camp at the Tribe’s powwow grounds.
The water protectors camp, called the Wakpa Waste Camp, continues to stand in protection of water that threatens the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe including continuing to stand against the Dakota Access pipeline, and against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. If built, the Keystone XL pipeline would would carry Tar Sands crude from Alberta and come within less than 1-mile of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe’s boundaries.
Last Real Indian’s editor Matt Remle recently spoke with veteran water protector Joye Braun about the Wakpa Waste camp and fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
For those who are unaware of the water protectors camp at Cheyenne River tell us more about the camp.
“So the camps name is Wakpa Waste, good river camp. What started out as being a transitional camp we are staying in continued opposition to Dakota Access, as CRST [Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe] is still in the heart of the DAPL litigation, and against Keystone XL which threatens to go .08 mile from the boundaries of Cheyenne River. We also took up the call to stand to support the fight against Uranium bore mining in the Black Hills and the radiation poisoning in the Cheyenne River. Basically we are standing to protect the water of our people.”
Does the camp have the support of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe?
“Yes CRST [Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe] is in full support of the camp. When water protectors were evicted at Standing Rock Chairman Harold Frazier invited displaced water protectors to Cheyenne River and to camp at the pow wow grounds. That was the end of February.”
How can people support the camp?
“We do not ask for donations from the tribe. They have given us a place to camp and we are working with them on strategy fighting both DAPL and KXL, following their lead and the grassroots people of Cheyenne River. We ask campers to be self sufficient as much as possible. Our campers if not working in camp are expected to volunteer or work in the community to build relationships and educate about the fights we are engaged in.
We do not have a go fund me account. The campers decided they didn’t want one right now. We saw the misuse of others and didn’t want to be lumped in that group. We know should we have to move to the line of the route we are probably going to have to have one, but we want to put policies in place and an organization developed to provide transparency and accountability. That’s why we ask people to be self sufficient as much as possible. We do raise some small donations to cover gas to get wood, propane, toiletries, cleaning supplies. We do have a Amazon wish list. Right now we need tipi poles. My tipi poles were stolen when people were taking stuff from the camps up north. Sometimes we sell beadwork, or have drawings for other artwork to raise funds. It does cost money to run a camp.
We are also encouraging people to support Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. They need help with covering legal costs. They didn’t get big donations like Standing Rock and they are still very much in both DAPL and KXL fights.
The truth is its really hard to get donations. People are maxed out and have givers fatigue with hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters. We as a camp sent supplies to Houston.”
What’s the status of the Keystone XL pipeline at it’s pending approval?
“We are expecting a decision from Nebraska next week. They have 3 choices. To deny KXL, to approve KXL on the proposed route or to reroute to the Keystone 1 route on the eastern part of the state.
We are expecting a conditional approval to the re-route but hoping and praying for a denial.
Should they go forward with a reroute it will throw South Dakota’s decision into question as the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] would not cover a proposed reroute.
The tribes are looking at all options should that scenario happen. We will be launching a pledge to protect the land and water in collaboration with Indigenous Environmental Network, CRST, Wakpa Waste Camp, the Lower Brule camp and 350.org”
Anything else you would like to share?
“People always ask what do we do. We’ve been to no KXL rallies in Pierre and even to Lincoln Nebraska. We went to DC to March for climate justice, and are working really close with the tribes, indigenous environmental network, Bold, 350 and other organizations developing strategies not only for the camp but together regional strategies to protect the water here. It’s important to build those relationships.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,179-mile long pipeline that would run from the oil sands in Alberta to Nebraska where it would link to an existing pipeline on-route to the Gulf Coast for export. It would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.