Accusation of Missing Livestock Made Against Standing Rock Water Protectors Hindered By Reality

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Published October 18, 2016

CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) suggested that livestock near Standing Rock Water Protectors are going missing in an article posted by Morton County Sheriff’s Office. The article on asserts that 30 cows are missing, and four cows, three bison and a saddle horse were killed.

NDSA Chief Brand Inspector Stan Misek asserted, “They’re missing from right beside the camps, right there. We don’t know. We don’t know for sure. We’re just putting it out there and hopefully somebody will come forward.”

However, the reality on the ground for the Standing Rock Water Protectors makes an assertion of cattle rustling of this scale preposterous. The camps are under surveillance by air and car nearly 24 hours a day. On an average day, two helicopters, a drone, and an airplane monitor the camps throughout the day. Stingray electronic surveillance devices have been detected in the area. Police are stationed along the road. Federal law enforcement agencies have a nearby outpost station on the same road as the camps. Police regularly patrol the roads around the camp.

Most of the camps are in a bowl with rivers on two sides and can be seen in full by observers passing on the road or in a ditch on the side of the road.

Sacred Stone Camp is a small encampment entirely housed on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It is a small, highly developed and populated camp with rugged topography and narrow access points. It has cow catchers on the ground on the way into the camp. In many parts of the camp it is difficult to turn a car around because it is highly populated.

In order to move a herd of cattle from the Sacred Stone Camp to any other camp, the Water Protectors would have sneak out of camp, slip 30 cattle past two helicopters, a plane, several dozen police officers and federal agents, past a police outpost, and hide them in plain sight of all the law enforcement agencies. In full view of thousands of phone cameras, law enforcement and media, Protectors would have to slaughter the cows in camp and afterward eat, preserve, or store all of the meat.

To move one cow at a time or a couple of bison, the Water Protectors would have to slip past the massive security thirty times.

The article also implies Water Protectors may have killed a horse. Lakota culture prizes relationships with horses and consider them important members of their society. Killing a horse is considered an extremely serious offense.

When asked for details about locations and affected parties, Julie Ellingson, NDSA Executive Vice President, stated, “This is an active investigation and those details cannot be disclosed at this time as law enforcement work the case.”

It is not even clear when the livestock began to go missing. When asked how long it took for thirty cows to go missing, Ellingston said, “Sorry, but I do not know the answer, as that is something that the investigators gather in their case files.”

Many Water Protectors are reminded of the story of Conquering Bear, a Lakota chief who was killed while trying to make peace over the death of a white man’s cow in his territory in 1854. Conquering Bear attempted to negotiate a reconciliation with the United States Army and cow’s owner. Talks broke down, and he was shot in the back and killed by the Army. His death lead to the First Great Sioux War.

Water Protectors are working to stop the completion of the Bakken Dakota Access Pipeline, which is slated to pass under the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and over the Ogallala Aquifer. Water Protectors have taken up camp inside and outside of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation near Cannon Ball, N.D. The Missouri River is the reservation’s primary source of drinking water.

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