August 22, 2017; Washington Post
For months, NPQ has followed the #NoDAPL movement. There are plenty of open issues between Native tribes and the corridors of North American power, but Standing Rock was the largest gathering of Native Americans in over 100 years. Their demand for a voice in a socioeconomic decision inspired other tribes and aided enormously in building awareness of Native issues. Native voices were joined and amplified by the involvement of nonprofit allies like Greenpeace, an organization with a history of using unusually stunt-like tactics to fight environmental damage.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has no intention of fighting an empowered and organized resistance every time it installs a pipeline, and has already taken steps to discredit the #NoDAPL movement and its allies. On August 22nd, ETP filed a lawsuit against “Greenpeace Intl.; Greenpeace, Inc.; Greenpeace Fund, Inc.; Earth First!; and John and Jane Does 1-20.” The lawsuit claims:
This case involves a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct, inflicting billions of dollars in damage. The network’s pattern of criminal and other misconduct includes (i) defrauding charitable donors and cheating federal and state tax authorities with claims that they are legitimate tax-free charitable organizations; (ii) cyberattacks; (ii) intentional and malicious interference with their targeted victim’s relationships; and (iv) physical violence, threats of violence and the purposeful destruction of private and federal property.
Linda Black Elk, a teacher of ethnobotany at a tribal community college who has lived at Standing Rock for most of her life and was a prominent figure in the protests, had this to say in response:
Their suit makes these amazing environmental organizations look like slick, white, profiteers, who have worked us poor, ignorant, Indians into a frenzy over “groundless claims” concerning harm to the environment and sacred sites…They are saying that we, as this nation’s original people, don’t have the intelligence or self determination to care about our lands, water, plants, wildlife, or sacred sites…This is all part of a larger strategy on behalf of Energy Transfer to completely discredit Native peoples in general and delegitimize water protectors specifically. It could also intimidate these big green groups from partnering with grass roots people in environmental campaigns.
The lawsuit seeks to blur the lines between Greenpeace’s type of direct advocacy tactics and the violent confrontation associated with riots or dangerous, unpredictable actors. Greenpeace uses “sensational, nonviolent confrontations to expose gover