POLACCA, Ariz. — Duane Uses Arrow, a former chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, joined a Hopi group that made the trek to Standing Rock to show support for that tribe’s battle against a pipeline that could contaminate the water supply.
Uses Arrow now lives in Sanders, Arizona with his wife Priscilla Joe-Uses Arrow.
“I felt an urge to go back to advocate for healthy lifestyles,” he said in reference to a health group that Hopi Waylon Pahona Jr. has been working on.
Uses Arrow said the Standing Rock Tribe adopted Hopi when their spokesman gave Pahona his most prized possession, his knife.
“Our tribe respects Hopi,” he said.
Uses Arrow said the proposed pipeline, which the Standing Rock Tribe is opposing, goes along the Missouri River, which is a key water source for the Standing Rock Tribe. The pipeline is on private land, but it’s about a half mile from the Standing Rock Reservation.
“We’ll fight for our water. This is where we are taking a stand,” he said. “We will go until the pipeline doesn’t cross the river. People are willing to put their lives on the line.”
Uses Arrow said while many other groups, such as the gay movement, have been able to push through their legislation, but Native Americans get pushed to the side.
“No one contributes what Native Americans contribute. Look at the Navajo Codetalkers. Give Native Americans credit that they deserve,” he said.
Uses Arrow emphasized that the protests have been peaceful. Pahona confirmed that.
“I was a former cop on my reservation and I know they don’t let any weapons through,” he said.
Uses Arrow said that none of the police were violent, but that the security outfit allowed their attack dogs to attack a pregnant woman.
“This is tactics by a corporation that doesn’t care about people. It’s time that natives stand behind natives on native issues. We need that unity. They say that water is life. Without water there is no life,” he said.
The pipeline was recently put on hold, but before that happened some sacred sites were desecrated by bulldozers.
“That is what triggered the protest and that should be looked at as a criminal offense,” he said.
Uses Arrow said most presidential candidates or federal officials have not paid attention to the Standing Rock issue. He said the only ones who have done so was former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Chase Ironeyes. Ironeyes, a member of the Standing Rock Tribe, is running for Congress as a Democrat against Republican Kevin Kramer. Jill Stein, the presidential candidate from the Green Party, also showed her support.
There have been some acts of civil disobedience as 22 people were arrested, most for crossing a line when police said not to do so.
A protest camp, known as Sacred Stone Camp, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, has been in place for several months. Approximately 7,000 people have been there since that time and it has drawn support from actor Leonardo De Caprio and actress Susan Sarandon who visited the site.
More than 300 tribes have been represented at the protest camp with some coming from Hawaii and Canada. Several non-Indians have also joined the protest.
Standing Rock member LaDonna Ellard started the camp, but it has been supported by Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault 2nd and Ron His Horse Thunder serves as spokesman for Sacred Stone Camp.
Energy Transfer Partners is the corporation building the 1,200 mile Dakota Access Pipeline. The plans call for a half million barrels of crude oil to pass through the line daily. ETP is a U.S. Fortune 500 Company. The pipeline would go through four states ending in Illinois.
The Standing Rock Sioux filed a suit in U.S. District Court to stop construction saying the tribe was not properly consulted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.