Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe just returned from his trip to peacefully protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. As we previously mentioned, Vox has an excellent explainer on why this is a big deal. The pipeline, which had already been rerouted once due to safety concerns from another neighborhood, would carry "450,000 barrels of crude per day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota down to a terminal in Illinois." However, local residents of Standing Rock Indian Reservation have been protesting and are concerned that the pipeline would contaminate local water, and a leak or a spill could prove deadly.
Blythe provided a short update earlier in the week, and just published a much more in-depth account of his time there, almost like a long journal entry over at Rolling Stone. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of his journey:
As we joined the short line of cars entering Oceti Sakowin through the north gate of the camp, we were met by a young Native security guard with a cast on his arm. "You here to camp?" he asked. Yep. "Do you have any guns, weapons, drugs or alcohol in the car?" Nope. "OK, brothers, come on in. Welcome home," he said. We drove down Flag Row, the main road cutting through camp lined with the flags of different Indian nations and headed towards the eastern end of camp, near a horse corral. We pitched our tent with the assistance of young man from Philadelphia named Jason. By the time we had figured out how to get our borrowed tent up, it was almost dark, and we were getting cold and hungry. We had brought food to cook and donate, but decided to see if there were any kitchens open so that we could eat and get some sleep. We walked back up to the security checkpoint and introduced ourselves to Baloo, the young man who had let us in earlier. We explained our situation and he said, "No problem, brothers. I'm in the Blackfoot camp, our kitchen is serving soon. We'll feed you." As he led us down a hill to his camp, David asked Baloo if he had hurt his arm on the bridge. "Yeah, man. I was getting blasted in the face by the water cannon for five hours up there," he said (I would later hear this confirmed by other members of camp security, who described Baloo as a solid guy). We ate a dinner of grilled burgers and hot soup at the Blackfoot camp, thanked them, then walked back to our tent to bundle up in our sleeping bags and crash.
Before sunrise the next morning, I was awakened by a deep voice blasting through a loudspeaker. "Wake up, Standing Rock! Wake up! Get up and pray, you are here for a reason! Wake up, my warriors and Sun Dancers! Wake up and pray! We are here to protect the water!" That was a refrain I would hear again and again during my time in camp: " We are here to pray and protect the water." The people at Standing Rock refer to themselves as water protectors, not protestors, and that is what the vast majority of them truly believe they are there to do – pray and protect the water. We rolled out of our sleeping bags, and I borrowed a shovel from the camp next door and dug a fire pit. While David cooked us a backstrap of venison for breakfast, we made our plan for the day.
The whole thing is worth reading just to see how crazy things really are down there.