Due to recent developments at Standing Rock, it’s become clear that the public should stop sending money and packages to the protesters in North Dakota.
They simply aren’t being used, and there are whispers that the Tribe itself is hoarding supplies and financial support.
A few days ago, a concerned member of the Standing Rock community snuck into a warehouse in nearby Fort Yates where packages from around the world meant for Standing Rock supporters are being stored. After some questions, it was determined that there were an estimated 80,000 unopened packages in the warehouse. Items such as blankets, tents, food, batteries and even drones and cell phones are piled up, and aren’t being handed out to protesters in camp.
Additionally, over $11.2 million had been raised for the protesters through at least 285 different online accounts, and it’s still not clear where that money is being used. Based on the primitive nature of the camp itself, it’s doubtful that the Tribe is using the donated money to support efforts on the ground.
There are only a couple hundred protesters who remain at Standing Rock, but to date, there are still hundreds of online donation requests in place. For example, Standing Rock member LaDonna Brave Bull Allard has a personal account set up on GoFundMe, which has already raised nearly $3 million.
“The fact that Standing Rock leaders have been accused of hoarding both gifts and actual cash comes as a surprise to many, considering the history of how Native cultures view generosity,” said Tom Sullivan with the Native American Indigenous Network. “Native cultures are based on the philosophy that humans are the stewards of the natural world, and not consumers of the world’s resources. Wealth in Native American culture is not measured by net worth, but rather by a combination of spiritual qualities, material goods, and behavior.”
At least one Tribal Elder raised questions about the money raised on behalf of the Tribe, and questioned the intentions of Standing Rock requests for cash.
“So whats all this talk about places on the internet that people can make money?” the Tribal Elder asked. “I hear people are making a lot of money off this protest, I hear about people begging for money or telling people lies about needing money.”
There’s also been a large amount of public outcry from the recent “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” movement, in which more than $1 million was raised online to support more than 2,000 American veterans who made the trip to Standing Rock in early December. In the middle of the trip, dozens of veterans took to social media, demanding to know where the money went. Veterans were left out in the cold without food or shelter, and were not reimbursed by organizer Wes Clark Jr., despite being promised that would be the case.
To add to the concern for the lack of accountability on how funds and gifts are being managed, tribal leaders are actually demanding that protesters leave their reservation. To encourage protesters to leave, the tribe has been removing important camp needs such as the temporary bathrooms, and has stopped picking up garbage from the site.
“There is no need for the water protectors or for anybody to be putting ourselves in unsafe environments,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. “It is time to dismantle the camp and return to our homes”
State officials have also asked that the last few remaining protesters leave the area and return home. That call to action has worked; law enforcement and first-hand accounts have indicated that the number of people camping in the blizzard conditions is around 400 protesters.
Many voices on social media are speculating that protesters aren’t just leaving due to the cold weather and the cold shoulder from Tribal leaders. Public support and opinion is declining rapidly as well.