Brandon Ecoffey: Pipeline destroys our sacred and cultural sites

Danny Grassrope was among the #NoDAPL resisters who were part of a confrontation at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on September 3, 2016. Photo from Sacred Stone Camp

Destroying Historical and Cultural Sites
A note from the editor’s desk
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

“As the international community responds to the wanton destruction perpetrated by extremists in Iraq and to the brutality and suffering facing the Syrian people, we also recognize that preserving these countries’ cultural heritage is a critical step towards reconstruction, reconciliation, and building civil society… We urge all parties in Iraq and Syria and the international community to respect and protect archaeological, historic, religious, and cultural sites, including museums and archives, and reaffirm that all those who destroy important cultural property must be held accountable.” -- Department of State

The comments above were made by the Department of State in 2014 regarding the ‘Threats to Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq” and were in response to the intentional destruction of these sites across both countries by ISIS. The terror group has made a concerted effort to destroy historical and cultural sites in order spread fear. The acts have received global condemnation as humanity understands the importance of preserving sacred sites.

Two weeks ago in Standing Rock this same destruction arrived in the heartland of the United States. Construction workers, operating on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline, intentionally bull dozed multiple graves and ancient religious sites located two miles northwest of the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers that had just a day before been publicly identified by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

These sites had been ignored or missed by a team of archaeologists hired by Dakota Access and had only been made public after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe identified them to the courts when asking for an injunction to prevent workers from destroying them.

Democracy Now! on YouTube: Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs & Pepper Spray

In what seems to be an act of malice and complete disregard for the judicial process, pipeline workers would not only come and carry out this act of terrorism on Labor Day Weekend, they also skipped over 15 miles of planned route to carry out their intentional deed.

When workers were confronted by those wanting to stop the destruction of the sacred sites attack dogs bred in Ohio and transported to the scene were unleashed on them. These are the same types of dogs used by Nazi Germany against the Jewish population, and at Abu Gharib, where US soldiers used them against women and children during interrogations.

If there was ever a documented case of a company carrying out an act of terrorism against a specific group of people, then this is it. This was an act of terror intended to strike fear in the hearts of those brave enough to stand against the will of the elite. Where else in America would citizens be forced to stand and watch as documented historical sites were destroyed by bulldozers? When did it become possible for law enforcement to allow a private company to carry out an act of terror using attack dogs?

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Where is the same outrage that accompanied the destruction of sacred sites in Iraq and Syria? When will the Department of State issue a statement regarding the need to protect these sites that are sacred to Native people and historically significant to all people of this region?

The rights of all citizens of both the United States and of many tribal-nations are being trampled upon by corporate mercenaries in the name of profit.

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He can be reached at

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