The mainstream media is missing quite a remarkable story.
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The Back Water Bridge on Highway 1806 in North Dakota, the location of yesterday’s frontline action. Photo taken October 27, 2016.

The Back Water Bridge on Highway 1806 in North Dakota, the location of yesterday’s frontline action. Photo taken October 27, 2016.

Eugene Tapahe

A historical and unprecedented gathering of many tribes to protect the water started in April 2016 at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota, but the mainstream media has failed in covering it.

Last night as I watched Facebook live feeds of water protectors enduring water cannon blasts in sub-degree temperatures, LRAD sound cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray, mace, tear gas canisters and bean bag blasts. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t making headline news. After several hours national reports finally started appearing, but they were incorrect and one-sided.

Morton County Sheriff spokesman Rob Keller told NBC that no water cannons were used and water was only deployed to put out fires set by water protectors. At the same time, I was watching it happen live. Where’s the responsible reporting? Where’s the responsible investigating? Where are the live video feeds showing the violence?

And when the story does get reported in national media, it is unbelievably one-sided. Even this morning, NBC and CBS news shared short snippets of Morton County Sheriff’s department press release that stated, “They were using water cannons to put out fires that protestors started…” At the same time, the two stations were showing a short video of the water protectors being doused by a water cannon in sub-degree temperatures. Really? And there was no mention of the police brutality, no quotes or press releases from the water protectors.

They are missing quite a remarkable story. This historic gathering started with a handful of youth and has grown to thousands of people from all over the world, coming in solidarity to protect the water. The Dakota Access Pipeline project plans to drill under the Missouri River, the lifeline for 18 million people who rely on it for their water. If completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline will transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

So what’s historical about this event? Well, imagine the Democrats, Republicans, independents and liberals, putting their differences aside and standing unified in this decade for one cause? Probably not, right? But such solidarity is happening in Standing Rock.

Thousands of Native Americans from different tribes have united in opposition of the pipeline. They are Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Lakota, Dakota, Comanche, Cherokee, Crow, Cree, Oglala Sioux, and Tlingit, just to name a few. They all have different cultures, beliefs, and religions. In fact, many of these tribes historically have been enemies for years.

Added to their numbers in opposition are non-Native Americans and foreign indigenous people forming a global international gathering, a spiritual group of peaceful people. They call themselves water protectors, not protestors, because they are prayerful. The water protectors are attempting to restore and heal the balance of nature and man―for our future, survival and for all humanity.

This once-in-a-lifetime gathering should be celebrated! But, it’s not.

Last night, the water protectors clashed with militarized police and National Guard troops on the Highway 1806 Back Water Bridge north of the Oceti Sakowin camp. A press release by Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council stated, “…Approximately 300 injuries... At least 26 seriously injured people had to be evacuated by ambulance to 3 area hospitals... One elderly went into cardiac arrest at the bridge frontline, CPR was administered and he was revived. No fatalities have been reported…” Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, also has confirmed a water protector, Sophia Wilansky, sustained a critical injury last night and is now facing an amputation of her arm. Sophia was struck directly by a concussion grenade last night on the frontline.

It’s unbelievable to think that in 2016, a virtual national media blackout has continued with occasional excerpts since April. Finally, when Sunday’s violence aired nationally, it wasn’t reported correctly ― just handled as an afterthought. If this type of violence and inhumane acts weren’t happening on United States soil, the United States might be the first to get involved to stop it. The national and international news media would be spinning stories of the inhumanity, showing the brutality, the hurt, the afflicted and the destruction, pulling at our heartstrings, so they could get our support and aid.

I wonder whether there’s another reason for this injustice. Is it the influence of strong corporate backing for the $3.8 billion pipeline, or is it really the color of one’s skin? Do the research, seek the truth, and you will start feeling what I feel ― disgust.

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