Dakota Access pipeline foes mount ‘last stand’

  • About 100 people gathered in Northampton as a “Last Stand” against the Dakota Access Pipeline. gazette photo

For The Recorder
Published: 2/9/2017 10:46:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Every morning at Standing Rock protest camp in North Dakota began with prayer, said Anthony Melting Tallow, who visited the site last November. And during the day, everyone was invited to a water ceremony.

But during the time of peace and spiritual gatherings, Tallow said, planes and helicopters were constantly circling the site. Across Highway 1806, Tallow recalls generators running 24 hours a day, lighting up a construction site for the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The environment at Standing Rock was a contrast of two opposites, said Tallow, of Chicopee, who is a member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada. As he protested the pipeline Wednesday afternoon in Northampton, the Chicopee resident said it was hard to explain the feeling at Standing Rock.

“The clearest definition would be love and hate ... greed and generosity, right up against each other,” he said.

The Army on Wednesday granted the developer of the four-state oil pipeline formal permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota, clearing the way for completion of the disputed project.

Work had been stalled for months due to opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux, but President Donald Trump last month instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to advance pipeline construction.

The tribe fears a pipeline leak could contaminate its drinking water. Developer Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline is safe.

Now, many opposed to the pipeline have organized a “Last Stand” movement.

Protesters posted an online list of about 50 events nationwide. There were large rallies, including one outside the White House, and smaller ones, such as in Northampton, where about 100 people joined Tallow to voice solidarity with Standing Rock.

The demonstration started on Main Street in front of TD Bank, a company that is helping to finance the pipeline, and headed to Pulaski Park.

Protesters urged people who passed by TD Bank to move their money to small, local banks that are not invested in the pipelines.

Signs read “Water is life” and “Close your TD bank account.”

Candice Lazarus held up a sign stating “I divested my $ from Wells Fargo.”

For Lazarus, many reasons came into play when switching banks. She moved to the area from Seattle and there are no local Wells Fargo branches in Northampton.

But Lazarus said it was the bank’s investments in the pipeline that drove her to close her account.

As people gathered in Pulaski Park, Tallow beat a drum. Hadley resident Tem Blessed spoke with the rhythm.

“We owe this commitment to Mother Earth, Stand with Standing Rock until I’m laying in the dirt,” Blessed said.

Others spoke of their solidarity with Standing Rock.

Mount Holyoke College student Marissa Patterson attended the demonstration, announcing a board of trustees meeting at the school Feb. 23, which may include discussion on fossil fuel divestment, an issue students have been pushing.

As a member of the Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition, Patterson said student organizations from Smith College, Amherst College and Mount Holyoke have been pushing their school administrations to redirect investments away from the fossil fuel industry.

Behind her, Tallow and Justin Beatty, an artist from New York, were setting up a stand for a large drum. Beatty held a bundle of lit sage, a herb used for cleansing and removing negativity. Tallow stood with his arms out as Beatty coated Tallow’s body with smoke. “It’s not about money, it’s about life — water is life,” Beatty said to the crowd.

Tallow, Beatty and another sat around the drum. The crowd became silent as they listened to the beat.


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