Energy Environment

Standing with Standing Rock

                                                                                           Photo Credit: Allie Fredericks

In perhaps the most notable Native American action since 1973’s Wounded Knee, tribes from across the country (and Canada) are gathering at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. A half-built pipeline, stretching from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois, is slated to cross the reservation cross the Missouri River a half mile upstream from Standing Rock lands.

The Blackfeet Nation from Montana and Canada, and Montana’s Northern Cheyenne were some of the first tribes to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. From Indian Country Today Media Network:

“As Indian People, we must continue to fight for the preservation of our water, land and all that affects our traditional way of life,” Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman Harry Barnes wrote in a letter of support. “All this affects our people now and the future generations after us.” … the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council passed a resolution noting that its own ancient sites—villages and burial grounds—were threatened by the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe “fully supports the effort of the Oceti Sakowin and all Missouri River Tribes to stop all construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will have a direct impact on the land held in reverence by all tribes with a direct connection to the land,” the tribe said.

I’m sure other Montana tribes will be weighing in.

The mainstream media are finally paying attention (now that celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Susan Sarandon are getting involved).

I’ve received a flurry of emails, some from Missoula Democrats, some from statewide Democratic Party members, some from people and organizations linked to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, asking support for the Standing Rock Sioux protest. Here are just a few of the sites I’ve been asked to visit:

And there’s a go fund me page that has already raised over $200,000:

It will be interesting to see how Montana political leadership responds. Of course, the Republican Party doesn’t give a shit about North Dakota Sioux but Democratic Party leaders tread a finer line. There’s the labor/energy sector that Democrats can’t afford to piss off, and the Native population that the party needs to turn out in big numbers in hopes of winning statewide races. I imagine the governor will stay mum on the issue but congress seeker Denise Juneau, a Mandan and Hidatsa, will be hard pressed not to comment.

My comment, and that of progressives I’ve been in touch with, is: we stand with Standing Rock.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this. It’s seldom that a television commentator speaks truth to power. Here’s an exception:

UPDATE: Please read DGF’s comment, below, for more insight into the protest.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Wow. It’s truly amazing to see this happening, for it truly is a great awakening among the Native nations. I still can’t believe it, for I have worked with Natives closely for twenty-five years or more on environmental issues, and it’s hard to get them to even show up sometimes. So yeah, something really big is going on here.

    The Native people seem to fully understand that this is it. It’s now or never. And for them and their children, never is not an option. They realize that if these proposed international trade deals go through as planned, their right to protest is lost forever. And really, what do you do when you can no longer even protest?

    I don’t want to think about that, but that’s where we’re at.

    I won’t be going to the protests unless specifically asked to, for the indigenous people are doing a fantastic job. They don’t need my help or my body. I would love to be there, but I’ll just sit this one out and monitor it closely. It’s incumbent upon all of us to being fully informed on the ramifications of all the trade agreements coming down the pike. They’re scary as hell. It’s not just Indian sovereignty at stake here. It’s our country’s as well. The time to fight is now!

    • Holy cats! Great site. I know what I’ll be doing all night long tonight. Crow, Sioux, together, fighting together. Some kinda real weird medicine arising here. And I love it!
      We, those who are watching this unfold, cannot let the corporate fascists thugs destroy these people as they have always done in the past. Think Ludlow Massacre. We can NOT allow that to happen this time.

      But you know damn well they’re gonna try! It’s all they know.

  • I would like to make one correction to this article. The pipeline will not cross reservation land it is about 1/2 mile off Standing Rock lands. What the tribe is most worried about is that it crosses the Missouri River up stream from the town of Fort Yates which gets it’s water from the river. It also crosses Native American cultural and burial sites. My five children who are enrolled Fort Peck Sioux tribal members own over 3000 acres of land inherited from their grandfather on the Standing Rock Resevation with some in the Cannon Ball protest area. They all oppose this pipeline. We no longer live on Fort Peck but were all born there and seen what the oil industry has done to native country. Poplar Montana center of the Fort Peck Resevation had their water fouled for years of oil spills since the 1950’s. We all know there is no life without clean water. We continue to hear how safe oil pipelines are crossing rivers. That is the big question how safe. I think we all recall the resent oil spills in our last free flowing Yellowstone River. Lastly this is a hard one for Denise Juneau as both her and her mother are enrolled members of the Fort Berthold tribes at New Town North Dakota which is the heart of the Bakken oil field which has brought great wealth to the tribe and many tribal members.

  • Good to know this blog is standing with Standing Rock and their fight against the pipeline.

    About 5 years ago there was protest about a little known (to some) pipeline called Keystone XL and the reaction to that protest from ID was a little bit different. SEE:

    Sort of interesting to read this pervious ID blog post and also the many comments that followed it, especially in light how huge of an issue the Keystone XL pipeline became, how it was stopped and what transpired and continues to transpire regarding pipelines, oil and gas/coal export docks, oil (bomb) trains and communities of all kinds rising up in resistance.

    Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth watching Democracy Now!’s coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests from yesterday.

    • You’re probably right, Matt.

      The dance party at the Capitol is what stopped Keystone XL.

      Or it was the mainstream political process you deride endlessly.

      I’m sure both answers are equally plausible.

      That you equate what’s happening today and that show at the Capitol five years ago is certainly your prerogative, thought some might suggest there are a few differences.

      • Hi Don, Guess my trip down memory lane touched a nerve. Perhaps you could look back into your Twitter feed and dig up those clever tweets you were sending out in July 2011 making fun of the Keystone XL pipeline protesters’ clothes, hair and smell (Oh MY! The smell, you really hated the way those Earth First!ers smelled!). I would say that after 5 years or so of protests and action around Keystone XL the mainstream political process (of President Obama, at least) did catch up. That happens from time to time and is one of the reasons why protests and non-violent direct action can be such an effective tool for change. I’m glad that ID has embraced one of the more recent examples.

        • Matt,

          I am going to bow out of this conversation before you threaten to sue me again or my insult my professionalism as a teacher. Typically, one of those happens by my third response to you, so I’m going to try to short circuit that.

          Two thoughts to consider, as I know you are fair-minded and always look at every point of view.

          It’s possible to disagree about the efficacy of tactics. As I acknowledged in my first comment, you can certainly can believe that embarrassing show at the Capitol blocked Keystone, or helped to block it. I can believe that that patient lobbying work of environmental groups you scorn was more effective. I certainly can’t change your mind.

          My second point is this. I guess you imagine what you’re doing is in the grand Socratic tradition of being a gadfly to effect social change. It might be worth reviewing just how effective you’ve been at persuading people. Again, I certainly could be wrong, but I’m not sure that constantly insulting everyone who isn’t as pure as you on environmental issues is the most effective strategy.

          In any case, I look forward to your dispatch from Standing Rock. I’m sure you’re there now, glad to see you’re getting Internet connection out there, and would be happy to post your essay from the ground.

          • Hi Don,

            You were taking my comments on your site here, erasing them and then re-writing the comments under my name. Cause-Effect.

            You like to claim that people ‘insult’ or ‘attack’ you being a teacher, but that’s sort of a stretch, especially as you make a practice out of insulting and attacking others, like some environmental activists that you don’t like. Cause-effect.

            I believe the protest at the Montana Capitol building in July 2011 helped bring national attention to the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s all. The fact is, the protest was covered by USA Today, Democracy Now! and other national outlets that likely introduced lots of folks to the issue.

            Sounds like perhaps those (smelly) protesters actually helped raise your awareness about Keystone XL, but I’m sure you’d never admit that.

            I have quite a few friends who’ve worked tirelessly on the campaign to stop Keystone XL, including friends who work for environmental groups. Could you please let me know which groups specifically you believe were involved in the ‘patient lobbying work’ regarding Keystone XL and how I have ‘scorned” them or that work?

            I also would suggest that you not view my 25 years of work on environmental, fair trade and public lands issues only in light of the comments I make here on your blog…often in direct response to some snarky attacks you make at our movement or efforts.

            I wish I could just ignore you and some of your non-sense, especially on environmental issues, but I fail at that from time to time and am truly sorry for my failure….Cause-effect.

            • Like I said, Matt, I’m out. Feel free to insult away. I won’t be reading it unless someone flags a comment as one I need to moderate.

              Again, I look forward to a dispatch from Standing Rock. I’m sure the people there are thrilled to have someone with your 25 years of experience on the ground, fighting the fight, especially when he believes so passionately about the power of protest. Did you get charged at the Capitol protest? I hope the fine wasn’t too serious.

              I hope the rain here doesn’t head there, if it hasn’t already arrived.

    • Keep coming over here and dissing your potential allies, Matt. You’re doing the environmental movement a world of good — a veritable Don Quixote in green/progressive politics.

      • progressive politics means next to nothing anymore, Pete. Democrats have perfected your perpetual marginalization, and the only thing you have left is fear of Republicans.

        • You still around, Skink? I’d relegated you to the blog trash heap, along with Tokarski and Strandberg. Shouldn’t you be out throwing rocks at refugees or something?

      • Pete, I value so much what your opinion of my small contribution to the environmental movement has been. Thank you, as I’ll keep that in mind as I continue moving forward.

        • I would assume that you and I have similar convictions on Standing Rock. So, I have to ask: what’s the point in you coming to this site and dredging up a post Don wrote five years ago? Is there some strategic environmental statement you’re trying to make? Or do you just like pissing off nearly everyone you come in contact with?

    • Jesus, Matt. SOME of us remember when you first came to Montana from Wisconsin. And guess what. SOME of us had already been in the trenches for a long time before you arrived. Might be time to go back to where your roots are. You haven’t gone native, just nuts! And that’s just real sad. You’ve no sense of place or perspective.

      In Native cultures, when a dude goes nuts, they don’t throw them in jail. Sometimes, they just place them on an island for a year or so to let nature cure them. Buddy, it’s time for you! Anger and ego have consumed you. I say this as one of your earliest supporters. Do you even remember the phone call I made to you asking you to come to GF to speak to our weekly enviro group meeting? Hell, it was full of some of the best enviros in the state at the time. Lots of them have sense passed on.

      • Yes, Larry, I remember that phone call and some of our earlier conversations via email. I’m stumped as to how I should respond to you calling me nuts, though.

        I also remember clearly that you said the Keystone XL protest at the Montana Capitol would set back the environmental movement in Montana by 20 years. While I didn’t agree with all aspects of that protest in July 2011, I’m pretty sure your proclamation didn’t pan out either.

        We lost another environmental titan yesterday, as Michael Frome went to the big Wilderness in the sky – one day after the 52nd anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

        Dr. Frome’s 1974 book – “Battle for the Wilderness”– should be required reading for anyone involved in public lands and Wilderness issues.

        Michael remained active on Wilderness, public lands and conservation issues well into his 90s. In fact, National Parks Traveler magazine did a feature on Frome, titled, “90 Years On, Dr. Michael Frome Continues to Lament the Sate of the National Parks.” Makes for an interesting read in light of the 100th anniversary that the National Park Service just celebrated last week.

        You can access his book and that National Parks Traveler article here (, via a tribute I wrote up to celebrate Michael’s 93rd B-day a few years ago.

        Rest in Peace….

        Michael Frome
        May 25, 1920 – September 4, 2016

  • For whatever it’s worth, these were the exact, word-for-word tweets that Don Pogreba wrote about the Earth First! and Northern Rockies Rising Tide non-violent protest at the Montana Capitol, which took place on July 12, 2011. These tweets were sent out by Don as the protest was on-going.

    For some additional context, remember that the non-violent protest was against the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands mining and Exxon Mobile’s megaload transportation project.

    It’s also worth remembering that the protest at the Montana Capitol also came just days after Exxon-Mobile’s Yellowstone Pipeline burst, dumping 44,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.


    Tweets by Don:

    Nothing says I am a serious protester like wearing a stylish trucker hat. 

    It’s always important to capture your anti-consumption protest on your smartphone so you can post it on Facebook.

    Someone should definitely pick up all that shredded paper those environmentalists left behind on the floor of the Capitol. #protest

    I was headed to the Capitol for the redistricting meeting but I am too allergic to patchouli and self-righteous self-promotion to risk it.

    I’m just saying…I hope that the Earth Firsters keep protesting for a while in the rain.

    • Weird that you have time to research my Tweet history while you’re making history stopping a pipeline, Matt. Surely you’re there, right? Not hiding behind your keyboard while people risk assault and jail to protect the environment?

        • Yes, I tweeted those comments five years ago. You got me.

          That has nothing to do with whether or not the Capitol protest led to President Obama blocking Keystone. If you really believe that was more important than the people who worked through the system to persuade him, I can’t understand why you’re not out protesting right now. I just can’t.

        • Once again, I ask: is there a point to this, Matt?

          I am not going to persuade you. You are not going to persuade me.

          Can we not have another one of these little episodes again? I don’t think it’s a good look for either of us.

          Just walk away. I’m sure you have more important issues than this to deal with, right? I know I do.

  • I have always admired and been amazed at the power of our Native American brothers when they speak. Where does that come from?

    It’s the same power that occasionally makes it into great literature. As I watched the following clip, I could only think of Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth speech to rally his troops before the Battle of Agincourt….only better, for we are living this history right now.

    What follows is truly an inspired and amazing example of just how articulate the Native speakers are. No notes. Just off the cuff power of the land and the Creator. Amazing stuff.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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