It’s Time for Members of Congress to Show Up and Stand Up for Standing Rock

Tomorrow, members of Congress will have an opportunity to show up and stand up for Standing Rock.

Wednesday’s Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing sounds like a snoozefest — “Modernizing Energy and Electricity Delivery Systems: Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Infrastructure Improvement and Expansion ” — but witnesses for this hearing include Chad Harrison, the councilman at large for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Joey Mahmoud, the project director for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Have no doubt: The injustices taking place at Standing Rock this very minute will certainly be on the agenda.

Last week, the U.S. Army indicated it will grant the final permit to complete construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. This decision comes in response to a January 24 presidential memorandum encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to override environmental review and speed up pipeline construction. The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, hasn’t wasted any time. Drilling resumed last week while a federal judge in Washington, D.C., yesterday denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary injunction to halt the company’s construction of the pipeline.

So it is safe to assume that the lack of meaningful tribal consultation, short-circuiting of legally required environmental review, and failure to provide proper notice to Congress around Standing Rock are fair game for Wednesday's hearing. But members of Congress should also address the federal government’s failure to protect the constitutional and human rights of Native American water protectors and others assembled at Standing Rock in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Last Friday, the ACLU renewed its ask that the Department of Justice investigate law enforcement’s use of force and militarized response against Standing Rock protestors. We know law enforcement have used armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sound cannons, water cannons, and other offensive military weapons and equipment in possible violation of the Constitution and federal laws. We also asked DOJ to send federal observers to Standing Rock, echoing a request from members of Congress to protect protesters from civil rights and civil liberties abuses.

 Last Friday, we learned that the federal government has intervened, but not as we have asked. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation  Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating water protectors and other activists at Standing Rock. The FBI began contacting organizers in the weeks that followed the inauguration.

Unfortunately, this is disturbing, but not surprising. We know the FBI has surveilled the Black Lives Matter movement, too.

There is a lot to talk about on Wednesday. To ensure there’s a robust discussion, here are three questions that members of Congress should ask themselves and witnesses:

  1. Will you stand up and defend the tribal sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux including the protection of sacred burial sites and access to safe and clean water?
  2. Will you stand up and demand that DOJ investigate possible civil rights violations at Standing Rock?
  3. Will you stand up and call for an end to the FBI’s unwarranted surveillance of an indigenous-led non-violent movement?

When it comes to Standing Rock, the world is watching. Tomorrow is the time for members of Congress to let their constituents know on the record whose side they’re on. 

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Sabrina, I support = rights for all ethnic groups-White, Black, American Indian, Asian, etc. Blacks and Native Americans deserve to be treated fairly. If a Black man or a Native American man got more punishment than a White man for committing the same crime with same circumstances, then that is wrong & must be solved. If a Black man or an American Indian man was discriminated against in a job, then that must be solved. But it gets old to hear the same topics. I have read comments by Whites raising the fact that they treat Blacks, American Indians & other groups fairly & that it’s wrong to condemn them for past wrongs which happened long ago, such as slavery. I believe it’s wrong to condemn people for past wrongs & what matters is that they are fair. But there are Blacks, American Indians who condemn Whites no matter how fair a White person is. This condemning is wrong. If a White person treats a Black, American Indian, etc. fairly, then don’t make an issue. American Indian groups have been arrogant, haughty & complain too much than try to solve problems impacting them today.

I’ve found with Native Americans or American Indians is that many times when they talk of ‘stolen land’ what they imply is ‘you did what I wanted to do.’ There was greed & arrogance on both the Whites & Native American sides. Yes, this nations treatment of American Indians was arrogant & wars were used to take land from American Indians. Truth about greed is that Whites were just better in greed. Before the Whites, American Indians when they wanted land be it living grounds, hunting grounds, burial grounds & fishing waters got it from other tribes by wars. When the Whites came, they wanted the same things & more be they metals such as iron, gold, silver, copper & bronze.

Truth is that when people get advanced & complicated in their technologies, the more they want. People are just potentially greedy. If American Indian tribes (esp. tribes like the Sioux, Comanches, Apaches, Aztecs, etc.) had better weapons & capabilities, they would have been conquering other places in the world & imposing their laws on others. Whites ( I’m not White) had better military capability or capacity, but when it comes to thinking, they’re the same. People are the same everywhere-Whites, Blacks, American Indians, etc. That doesn’t excuse fact this nation’s treatment of American Indians was arrogant but when you have the view of ‘you did what I wanted to do’ then you’re no better than what you say to be against.


Thank you for the update.


Who is on the Energy and Commerce subcommittee?


Here are the Committee members:

Republican Members:

Fred Upton (Michigan - 06) - Chairman; 202-225-3761
Pete Olson (Texas - 22) - Vice Chairman; 202-225-5951
Joe Barton (Texas - 06); 202-225-2002
John Shimkus (Illinois - 15); 202-225-5271
Tim Murphy (Pennsylvania - 18); 202-225-2301
Robert Latta (Ohio - 05); 202-225-6405
Gregg Harper (Mississippi - 03); 202-225-5031
David McKinley (West Virginia - 01); 202-225-4172
Adam Kinzinger (Illinois - 16); 202-225-3635
Morgan Griffith (Virginia - 09); 202-225-3861
Bill Johnson (Ohio - 06); 202-225-5705
Billy Long (Missouri - 07); 202-225-6536
Larry Bucshon (Indiana - 08); 202-225-4636
Bill Flores (Texas - 17); 202-225-6105
Markwayne Mullin (Oklahoma - 02); 202-225-2701
Richard Hudson (North Carolina - 08); 202-225-3715
Kevin Cramer (North Dakota - 00); 202-225-2611
Tim Walberg (Michigan - 07); 202-225-6276
Greg Walden (Oregon - 02) - Ex Officio ; 202-225-6730

Democratic Members

Bobby Rush (Illinois - 01) - Ranking Member; 202-225-4372
Jerry McNerney (California - 09); 202-225-1947
Scott Peters (California - 52); 202-225-0508
Gene Green (Texas - 29); 202-225-1688
Michael Doyle (Pennsylvania - 14); 202-225-2135
Kathy Castor (Florida - 14); 202-225-3376
John Sarbanes (Maryland - 03); 202-225-4016
Peter Welch (Vermont - 00); 202-225-4115
Paul Tonko (New York - 20); 202-225-5076
David Loebsack (Iowa - 02); 202-225-6576
Kurt Schrader (Oregon - 05) ; 202-225-5711
Joseph P. Kennedy III (Massachusetts - 04); 202-225-5931
G.K. Butterfield (North Carolina - 01); 202-225-3101
Frank Pallone (New Jersey - 06) - Ex Officio; 202-225-4671

t Rioux

aclu top guns should be at the front of this.
the small chapter up there are powerless in the face of
great power . will you please be on scene as you were at the
airports and with the media! this is happening to all native peolle
all the time. this is a native civil liberties crisis and we need
your most powerful representation in state and federal cases
NCLU Aclu please help us all.

Vicki Colton

Thank you for sharing this useful information. I will contact my local ACLU chapter and see how I can help. They never lied to me.


New National Holiday

ON FEBRUARY 16, 2017:



Mr. Dave Martin, it is not a ridiculous case, this is American people's lives at stake here, and that land belongs to them, they have all the right to protect it, plus their trying to save r water u asshole, this pipeline crap is going to effect all of us, them pushing this thru is what's ridiculous, why don't u go bury ur head in the sand. The stupid president and Congress has started a war right here in r own country with r own people, that's what I call ridiculous and heartless, so cram that up ur ass.

Oil User

Why dont any of you anti-pipeline protesters bring up the fact about all the garbage and waste and shit you all left on the land while you protested? What about all of that shit contaminating the river now that the river level is so high? Of course you won't say anything about that. And how the hell do you get to all these protests?? Gotta drive there I assume... Hmmm, last I checked most vehicles use petroleum to run. Go get a job and quit whining!


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