Dave Archambault II
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He's currently senior fellow at the university of Colorado, first peoples worldwide project, which is run under the American Indian law program and Leeds business school. Dave was elected tribal chairman in October two thousand and thirteen and have the opportunity to meet with President Obama at that time because his sister worked at the White House when he met the president. He asked him to not sign off on the keystone access pipeline that was meant to start from the tar sands in Canada. And go to ancestral homelands of the great Sioux nation and for this reason among others to president did not sign off, but shortly thereafter, the Dakota Access pipeline was proposed and much to surprise the scoping and planning had already been done by the time the tribe heard about it through the tribal historic preservation office. Dave immediately went to work and started the conversation. But the army corps of engineers, requiring them to abide by the laws and engage in meaningful consultation that didn't happen, the leadership of the SU nation and the leadership of the. Corps of engineers, did not meet in fact, the army corps of engineers approved and released a draft environmental assessment. At this time Dave discovers that the pipeline is less than five hundred feet from his nation and crossing underneath, the Missouri river. It crosses through ancestral and treaty lands and areas with sacred significance. In other words, the su- nation was absolutely ignored and response. They started making the rounds in Washington DC. They met with the department of energy, the department of interior, the US army civil work. They advisory council historic preservation the EPA and finally, the army corps of engineers, they advocated from two thousand fourteen to January two thousand and sixteen to no avail the word at that time was that the pipeline was coming through at a local district meeting, Dave show, the community all that he had done in Washington. But since it clearly didn't look like it was enough. Some of those. Who attended the meeting decided to have a ceremony to ask the spirits, what they can do in the ceremony. The spirit said with peace and prayer you'll stop the pipeline with violence and war. The pipeline will go underneath the river. So from that moment on, there was a spirit camp to pray. Young tribal members walked across the Missouri river and mobile, South Dakota in protests and asked to be heard. They delivered a letter to the US army corps of engineers, an Omaha Nebraska. They started a national campaign on social media called res- pecked, our water. Then they put together a petition of one hundred and sixty thousand for the army corps of engineers in Washington again, asking them not to permit this pipeline because it threatens their future, the environment and their sacred places in July of two thousand sixteen despite all their efforts, the corps of engineers, approved of the environmental assessment and initiated a preconstruction notice a few weeks later, and that's when everything began to escalate and the beginning there were maybe one hundred protesters at the construction site and law enforcement was there. Slowly. The crowds started growing in August. There was a rumor that the construction crew hit. Some sacred bones and a commotion started when Dave saw woman walked behind the police line standing on the road as she was trying to stop construction trucks coming down. He went over to help her. That's when he was arrested strip searched and thrown in jail. When Dave got out of jail. The spirit camp began to grow truly fast here, he tells us how it started to snowball after my rest ahead of chairman. Call me from China oversee tribes saying that we're bringing in two hundred people tomorrow, and then I had another chairman from the Oglala Sioux tribe. Call and say, we're bringing bus with three hundred people so overnight this begin to blossom and grow and there's no way to control or manage something when it gets so big days felt like weeks, weeks felt like months months felt like years. There's so much going on, and there's no way he can organize. There's no way you can control something that girls that fast. So it was organic and took the life of its own. And I give the credit for the protests to our youth to get everybody in gauged including Allders middle age. It's when they start to speak up. That's when people start to come together and get engaged. It sounds like the youth really started to mobilize your community, and I think that's not covered very much in the traditional media moa. Happen to if you were to talk to the youth. That would say our movement hijack. And we stayed consistent with our message with the tribe, we wanna be peaceful and purple stance. We welcome. And we think everybody supporting with them to come and we're going to try to accommodate as we can. But we ask for things. No alcohol. No drugs, no weapons, violence and come in prayer. And when that was happening, it was one of the most surreal, powerful things that anybody could imagine, like an words can explain. But I think everybody who was partaking at the moment. News that there was something special happening. So when it was hijacked what happened when you have ten thousand people, and you have over a dozen different organizations with their intent their purpose. Everybody is going to go in different directions. And sometimes it's not always the same intent as the local people had initiated are started. There were different incentives for different organizations, right? It's difficult to have one United front when you have people coming from all over, and everybody has maybe a slightly different agenda from each other in terms of organization, organization. Although it sounds like the impetus for the influx of all of the support that you received was your arrest MO think it was the impetus for everything. I just think that. The Boston vintage thing that was, I think, spiritual and significant. How important was that stand together camp together pray together? It's very important for any movement, and I call it a movement for you have protests. And then you have movements, and when there's a movement is a catalyst for something to change in the future. You don't know when that change is going to happen. Then if we were to look back fifty years from now, we could see it was inevitable. The way that this government has treated indigenous peoples in this nation has been said it's been disrespectful, and it only got worse and the fossil fuel industry praise on areas where they can take advantage before starting to say our voices need to be heard. When something's not fair and it's inevitable that happened within Indian country because of all the wrongs that have been committed to our nation's. It's. No different than a hundred years ago. No different than tune in years. And it's not something that happened in the past. It's something that continues to happen, and this nation, we would say is a traitor, who is allowed to continue to the same crimes and its perpetrator because of the way the laws are written and the laws, protect fossil fuel industries, whenever they come to encroach on our human rights, and our environmental rights are indigenous rights that just so happen that happened standing rock. Well, I was the chairman of the tribe that leads me to another point where how did I become the chairman of the tribe? Tell us more about that. I grew up in Indian country. My dad was educated. My mom was educator. I was fortunate to have two parents, I lived on the pine ridge in the nerves vision, I lived on the standing rock Indian reservation so as I'm coming to a point where I have to make my own decisions I have my own responsibilities. My intent is to do something so that I can help our people. And so I become an advocate for people, and have become someone who wants to do things to set example, so others can follow, like got my education, and I started a business. It was the first business on standing rock those owned by a tribal member. I also worked were sitting we'll college teaching a business administration, students helping entrepreneurs and working on workforce development because of those three things I was able to see the environment that was there that wasn't helping business development and took me was to tribal politics. I became a tribal council, and I came in with my eyebrows wide open and excited saying, we're going to make a difference, but it's seventeen other members on the tribal council with different agendas, and it's not always easy to create change way. And so what I left after four years. My eyebrows were touching because I was frustrated. And then I thought, well, maybe chairman can change. And even if I don't get elected at least I can say tried, and so, I ran for tribal chairman in got elected. This is important because I consider myself an advocate for my nation for my community of consider myself advocate for my family trying to create a better environment for everybody that lives in that local spot and being an advocate role as tribal government, trouble, chairman, we tried to change laws policies during relations the rules, so that it's better for our membership. It's slow moving and takes decades before things can make change naked difference on the Ila site. You have activists who are doing the same thing, but they are doing in defiance of government, and they have a common cause whatever that caused maybe an that cause is national, and it's, it's at a macro. Title. But when you have an advocate, and you have an activist come together. Like what happened standing rock? When we come together elevates, Mike costs and their cause our causes are raised and advocates and activists look, don't always see the same thing. A lot of times activists are protesting against advocates protesting against the government. But in this case, we came together, and then when the bent this movement, and this moment in time and. We separating it activists and advocates are apart. And we slowly are trying to make a difference in our own we'll house. So looking back on this experience from working together with activists at that time at standing rock Motte was in your mind, your most salient learning that you're carrying with you now. It was easy when we first started because we knew exactly who are up against. We were up against the federal government. We're up against our state representatives congressman and the two senators we're up against the governor of North Dakota. We're up against the oil industry, extractive industry, the pipeline industry unions that you're trying to stop jobs. But we weren't trying to argue with unions, the other thing that we realize that the laws are flawed, so we're up against the federal laws and who makes the federal laws. It's congress. But where did they get the direction they get their direction from industry from corporations and they're incentivized by money? And so it's safe to say the coke brothers are the ones who influenced the way laws are created so that it benefits the extractive industry, where able and we're. We're willing to go up against something like that. And we were successful in December two thousand sixteen so under the Obama administration, they said, yes, we need to stop pump on breaks. We're not going to permit this Intel we do an environmental impact statement, which was a huge victory for us because then we will be able to demonstrate everything that had happened to our nation's every time infrastructure project encroaches on our homelands. So that was huge. It was big. But then it was at this point that President Trump was elected into office and within one week, everything changed. He signed a presidential memorandum to state that the environmental assessment will suffice to move forward with a pipeline, which it did. I should note here that an environmental assessment is something that we can assess by look. At the environment. It's like saying disguise blue an environmental impact statement is something else entirely, which is the thing that the tribal nations were looking for an environmental impact statement is actually deep study about how the environment will be impacted by any project at this point. Dave's personal reputation took a big hit as he'll explain here, when things go the way they were supposed to the blame comes by and was accused of having a house in Florida, getting thirty million having a house and Bismarck. All these false accusations were coming up and enacted. Honestly, say that I never benefited in one way from this movement. And I never wanted anything. A dime out of this night state clear of any resources that would come in and loud, our tribal council to make the decisions on what to do with the resources. So it wasn't to gain anything only to protect our future generations in our sacred places. What is the most important? Takeaway. I got from this movement the events that happen that Steiner Afghan, and that is to stay grounded. No matter what. And when things are not good. You always have your family. You are super passionate about indigenous rights and the rights of the nations. And clearly you have not stopped your work there. And you're working at the university of Colorado what does the word that you do that advances the rights and the treaties and the heritage? Really? So it was interesting. The reason why university Colorado came in during the protests by probably was approached by a hundred different legal experts. They would come and say, this is how you stop the pipeline and not all of them were legitimate. And so we were working with the American Indian law program at university, Colorado, and using the law students to actually vet any ideas, which was really helpful. The other component was Rebecca Adamson had started a program nonprofit. Project about ten years prior. And it was called first peoples worldwide and what they did was. They encouraged free prior informed consent around the world with indigenous peoples when they're resources were being threatened. They also did a lot of work with vestment. And so, when we started the work with them, they had blueprint on how to approach financial institutions banks, and they had training on the rights, that we have we worked with them in trying to get in touch with all the banks that were invested in the code access pipeline. I think we had thirteen those banks get on the phone, and we would give monthly updates on what's happening to the banks. We ask them to divest and three of them withdrew and divested. And these three banks are from other countries, none of the US banks. Withdrew but that work is very important and that what it is engaging corporations with indigenous communities when these two don't engage. There's a potential social costs. And if you ignore the social costs, it's going to escalate the financial risks for not company. But the, the shareholders of the financial institutions, and I was able to come on and, and as a senior, fellow and continue to help that work of investment building awareness for investors in and building capacity for tribes on how to engage with companies and not only that, but look at shareholder advocacy. Everybody pays attention environment and everybody pays attention to the government. But a lot of times the social cost is ignored. And so we did a study on the code access pipeline. We lift what was the stock price of transfer partners prior to August two thousand sixteen. What was the average for standards importers of S and P five hundred? And then at the end of everything. Whereas SNP and is E P T and they lost twenty percent. And I remember meeting with the code access pipeline company joy Mohammed. And I said, you know, we're going to resist this and he said that comes with the territory. We built pipelines all the time as part of the business, we're gonna meet resistance, and I shared our history of infrastructure projects, and affects that has honor, tribal nations, and Mark people. Then he gave me an overview, saying you have nothing to worry about because those pipes going to be thirty five inches. And I am going to have three fourth quarter inch, the quality is going to be ninety feet below the river. We both share information with each other. And then when our way a year later, I meet with energy transfer partners, the parent company of the class, like plan CEO Kelsey warm, and I share the same information with him. And he says, if I've new this year ago, we wouldn't be in the situation if we engage with the right people, the head of the companies the decision makers if we engage with the shareholders are the financial institution early, then there's a better understanding on both sides and some infrastructure projects may be welcomed by tribal, her are indigenous peoples and some may not. But neither side should wait until it's too late and tellers too much investment. It's trying to address the ignorance that exists and the problem with this whole scenario is that corporations have the resources. So when they went to engage Bill do it where tribal nations don't have the, the resources. They don't have the capacity. So we want to build that up and level the playing field. So that both understand what's happening. That sounds preventing the, you have just told me that you have done any meant amount of work in Washington, and with the corporations with that tribal nations, and I think, none of that really comes through very clearly when you look at any of the articles that you read or footage that you see about the peak of the protests at the Dakota Access pipeline, and it's really fascinating because you're giving me a huge hole picture. That is so comprehensive and holistic that none of us know about, or at least it's very difficult to find. So for people in the United States, non native Americans, what would you like to say to the audience that would get them engaged in having? Better relations with India nations. And also protect your rights. You know, I think it's happening organically, I think there is interest in indigenous peoples and the concepts and philosophies that have been shared with us through our ancestors until, and it's so simple. The stance standing rock was for water. Everybody can relate everybody in the whole world could relate because without it. So. The concept and, and the philosophies and the reality is something that we had for ever, and it's so basic and we try to complicate things we try to use science. But if you into indigenous communities and you and you start to pay attention to the way things are still basic the so, so simple and an our culture if we were to look out can't do it here because we're New York City, I can't see anything, but if I was at home, and I looked out the window when I would see is the prairie and if you see the prairie if you see movement would say, Dr Scott or something there, and that means that whatever's there when that moves it has knock has a spirit has a soul has a life. And if it has a soul and the spirit and life than another word is doc. Yes, that means that we are all. Related to everything moves everything that has a spirit, and we should treat them with respect and everything has a spirit needs. Four things in order for it till a needs. The sun, the needs to earth and needs the air, and it needs water. Those are the four elements that are in every indigenous community ceremony. Now, if you were to, to say, let's look at a infrastructure project, where we are going to take this resource say water, and we're going to develop project with, that's the problem is, would you call your mother, a resource are, would you call her source of life? She brought you here and she cares for you. That's the same relationship. So if you start to think about water as not a resource, but a source of life. Than the mix the most sense that you respect it, and it can still be used in the project, but with respect, and we don't abuse it in their communities have been saying this to everybody for last hundred years. But nobody's listening. But now. It's necessary. If it standing up against the pipeline because waters, lie, it's necessary, and everybody has to come together and agree to. Well on that note looking into the future. What makes you hopeful? I see a lot of technology involving to where we can get away from fossil fuels. The way solar with both the sun can offer the same amount of electricity, that oil can the way that the wind blowing can offer the same amount electrically. And there's other new technologies that are coming that are not perfect yet, but are on their way, they'll pick this into another era, but I'm just hoping it's not too late. I did too. Thank you. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you for your leadership, and thank you for showing us how to do this. We will. I was so surprised to discover all of the steps that the SU nation had undertaken before the Dakota Access pipeline protest made the front pages. I was although surprised to learn about the varying factions who showed up at the camp in the end each with a different agenda. And finally, how frustrating it must have been to be an elected leader in this case tribal chairman despite having engaged in the full breadth of advocacy, for his constituents at the same time, I was so excited by learning about the spiritual aspect that Dave Artem bolt described everything was, so inspirational, and so ideally, stick, just in the retelling, I could feel the movement as being a change agent for the future, the remaining questions that I have are about our attitudes towards Indian nations. When will we stop breaking treaties? Against Indian nations. When will we actually recognize the rights of the indigenous? I wonder what it will take if you want to take action for indigenous rights, and save water. Go to our website future. Hindsight dot com for more information. Is the end of protests, as we know it the beginning of our future on the next episode of future. Hindsight, our guest is mica white. He's a lifelong activist who co created Occupy Wall street, a global social movement, that's to eighty two countries. While also an editor at at busters magazine. He's the author of the end of protests in new playbook for revolution. And also the co founder of activists graduate school, an online school taught by and for experienced activists, obviously, we did a lot of great things we kicked off a whole wave of social unrest. We trained a whole new generation of activists made protests, cool again, it was constructed failure in the sense that, it, it did teach us something about the limitations of contemporary protests. And I think that activists can learn from the failure of Occupy Wall street, and they can use that knowledge to kind of make protests work again until next time. I'm Neil atmos-. Thank you for listening to future hindsight, the executive producer and host of this program is meal, atmos-, the audio producer in composer, is Peter fader. The associated producer is mediums finance online at future. Hindsight dot com and listen to us through your favorite streaming services.