Neil Young, Equipto, Chill E.B., A Tribe Called Red, & Kalyn Heffernan Among Protesters of Controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

Posted by Billyjam, November 18, 2016 04:35am | Post a Comment

With the increasingly frequent number of organized protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) taking place across the nation, the number of outspoken protesters adopting the cause and taking it to the streets, online, and/or to North Dakota has similarly multiplied. Among this steadily swelling number of protesters, that culminated earlier this week with a national day of action at 300 different protests across the US, many are musicians. Hailing from varied genres and generations these include such artists as Neil Young, A Tribe Called Red, Equipto, Joan Baez, Trevor Hall, Michael Franti, Chill E.B., Buffy Saint Marie, Wheelchair Sports Camp, Indigo Girls, Dregs One, The Zotigh Singers, Raye Zaragoza, Jackson Browne, and DJ Troubleman. These are musicians who've either protested and or recorded protest music against the controversial pipeline. One high profile protester who could be added to this musician's list, considering that three decades ago he recorded a protest folk album, is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders who made a surprise appearance and speech in Washington DC during this week's (Nov 15th) national day of action.

At the DC protest Sanders stressed the importance of clean water and stated that the mounting protests would, "tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of our planet.” The popular politician of the people joins hundreds of thousands of voices of outrage over the $3.8
billion project pipeline that stretches approx 1200 miles and cuts across four states. The almost completed pipeline includes a stretch alongside the Missouri River, right next to Sioux Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota that developers are awaiting final approval
for an easement beneath Lake Oahe, the Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota that directly affects the Sioux tribe. And it was there where the protests first began back in August with Native American groups charging that the pipeline path both desecrates sacred burial sites and endangers the drinking water supply of the immediate residents as well as the millions of Americans further downstream, due to the likelihood of oil leaks.

The NAPL protests are seen by many as a two tiered fight. Foremost is the fight for an environmental cause: one to protect the vital water supply of Americans. Secondly they're seen as a fight against injustices by big money against a minority group: the Sioux tribe. As such it is the latest chapter in a centuries long war of oppression and injustices against native American peoples. On top of all this, videos that surfaced showing peaceful protesters at Standing Rock being viciously attacked (pepper spray, attack dogs, and rubber bullets) inspired many more to join in this mounting national protest.

Trevor Hall "Standing Rock" video edited by Yolanda Pushetonequa (2016)

Neil Young at Standing Rock raw footage from Nov. 12, 2016

Artists who have already performed at the protest encampment in North Dakota include Joan Baez, Frank Waln, Nahko Bear, and Neil Young who this past Saturday celebrated his 71st birthday by surprising everyone at the location where unannounced he casually walked through the crowd of water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota, while strumming his guitar (see raw video above). "#WaterIsLife. Those who damage Mother Earth damage us all. forgive them, they don't yet see," Young posted to his Facebook page which brought even more attention and awareness to the cause.

A few days later in the Bay Area during the national day of protest, one of a few Bay wide protests took place in San Francisco in the early sunrise hours of Tuesday when 2000+ protesters assembled in Civic Center outside San Francisco City Hall chanting and waving signs about protecting the environment and standing up to big oil corporations. Among those in attendance was longtime revolutionary rapper Chill E.B., who recently recorded the song/video "They Don't Care About Us" (see below). "Me and my wife attended. It was a beautiful, peaceful, gathering. We need to put a stop to this pipeline. I am concerned but hopeful," Chill E.B. told the Amoeblog this week.

Chill E.B. "They Don't Care About Us" (2016)

The Zotigh Singers "Standing Rock Tribute Song" (2016)

Other hip-hop artists at the SF protest this week included Michael Franti of Spearhead and Equipto of Bored Stiff. The tireless longtime Bay Area hip-hop activist, who is organizing a follow up  benefit protestconcert event at Slim's next week with such other artists as Dregs One and DJ Troubleman, spoke with the Amoeblog yesterday. When asked if he saw the #NoNOPL protests as interrelated to and/or an outgrowth of the Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protests, that the artist has also been most active in, Equipto replied that, "I think all this is happening simultaneously because America is trying to finish their act of genocide on native Americans and people are waking up due to all the exposure and people actually bringing it to the streets. These uprisings are just a reflection of what's happening in our communities. And now the world is starting to see that we the people are tired of it."

A common thread of the #NoNOPL protests and the anti-Trump protests is the fact the President-elect is directly involved in this very oil business venture. As reported by CBS News and other sources Trump has stock holdings in Energy Transfer Partners: the company responsible for the oil pipeline. Kelcy Warren, who is the CEO of that company and who donated $100K to the Trump presidential campaign, told CBS This Morning in the days following Trump's win last week that he is confident, come January 20th, that the new President will help him finalize the project and begin the oil pipe flow.

Indigo Girls Musicians Standing For Standing Rock: Honor The Earth (2016)

Kelcy Warren's bold resolute confidence, that he will completely shut down all protests and soon complete the oil pipeline through Native American territory, has only further ignited anger among protesters, including all the aforementioned musicians. But what makes this whole story even more complex and bizarre is that this billionaire businessman is also a passionate music fan: one who owns the small indie record label Music Road Records and who sponsors the annual  Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Texas. Among performers at that festival are none other than NOPL opponents the Indigo Girls who had no idea of the backstory to this intricate tale. But upon learning it, Emily Saliers and Amy Ray of the longtime female duo severed all ties to Warren's company and launched the #NoDAPL Boycott of Pipeline Owner's Major Folk Music Festival. Then they encouraged such other musicians as Shawn Colvin, Joan Osborne, Jackson Browne, Buffy Saint Marie, and Keb’ Mo’ to join their cause. See the PSA they released above and scroll down to see a similar themed one by Buffy Saint Marie and band who've also demonstrated solidarity with the Sioux's protest.

Raye Zaragoza "In The River: A Protest Song" (2016)

A Tribe Called Red x Prolific the Rapper "Black Snakes (Remix)" #NoDAPL  (2016)

Denver hip-hop artist Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp (WSC) will be traveling with fellow protesters to North Dakota next week to spend Thanksgiving by showing solidarity with the natives of this land, and advocating that big business stop taking more oil out of the ground, and instead save Mother Earth.

As part of her grassroots campaign the hip-hop artist has been busy spreading the word both on social media, with the hashtag #FuckYourPipeline
and by mailing postcards promoting the just released WSC new album No Big Deal (Strange Famous) to politicians including outgoing President Barack Obama who in early September temporarily halted work on the NOPL and who last year had blocked the even longer Keystone Pipeline that would have run almost parallel to NOPL down from Canada through the US.

Expect many more protesters to convene at the ND Sioux reservation by Thanksgiving Day next week. In addition to putting together the November 25th Slim's show for Standing Rock (and other causes) that will also feature Dregs One, Rich Iyala, Nate & Kid Rated R, La Favi, Da Robba, Aukwin, Gina Madrid, Lyrical Tone LLF, Double U, Sojari, Monk HTS, and DJ Troubleman, Equipto is also planning on going to Sioux Standing Rock reservation next week. In reaching this goal the artist set up a Go Fund Me page under the title "standingrock solidarity" so that he along with "Larry Dorsey Jr. & a dozen wise warriors" can make "the pilgrimage." More information here and in flyer up above on upcoming events at the endangered sacred Sioux site.

Ulali "Idle No More" (2016)

Buffy Saint-Marie
Musicians Standing For Standing Rock (2016)

Relevant Tags

Spearhead (4), Bored Stiff (14), Joan Baez (4), Wheelchair Sports Camp (10), Michael Franti (7), Chill E.b. (2), Equipto (22), Neil Young (36), Kalyn Heffernan (8), Wsc (6), Napl (1), #nonapl (1), A Tribe Called Red (2), North Dakota Pipeline Protests (1), Prolific The Rapper (1), Revolutionary Rap (1), Conscious Hip-hop (1)