Pipeline fight continues this week in Iowa City

The NoDAPL movement is alive and well in Iowa, with numerous actions and events in the coming week. Tonight, supporters will rally ahead of the Iowa City Council meeting where the council will consider a request to divest further from banks that support the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tomorrow, 100 Grannies for a Livable Future and Bold Iowa will join in a Statewide Day of Direct Action. And on Saturday, Feb. 25, activists will take over Wildwood Saloon in southeast Iowa City at 7 p.m. for a Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) benefit.

Iowa City Council Meeting

City Hall — Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m.

Statewide Day of Direct Action Against DAPL

Bread Garden — Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 12 p.m.

Mni Wiconi Benefit

Wildwood Saloon — Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

Iowa City Council Meeting

Activists will gather before an Iowa City Council meeting tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 5:30 p.m for a rally outside City Hall, then move inside for the meeting. The meeting’s agenda will include a letter submitted by the Mississippi Stand Solidarity Network, an Iowa City organization fighting the pipeline.

“We are asking the City of Iowa City to join others including the cities of Davis, California and Seattle, Washington, by not doing business with institutions financing the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Aaron Silander of the Mississippi Stand Solidarity Network in an email. “We appreciate City’s recent decision to limit it’s association with Wells Fargo Bank, and are asking them to withdraw funds held by US Bank, which has provided $275 million in financing for the pipeline.”

City Manager Geoff Fruin stated during a previous city council meeting that the decision to divest from Wells Fargo was based on performance and was not a political decision.

Silander noted the pipeline’s impact on Iowans, especially those near construction sites.

“Construction itself has wrecked havoc on Iowa farm land and families who’s land was seized by eminent domain or leased, often under duress by corporations for private gain. Once oil runs through it, leaks and spills risk ruining farm land, wild life habitat, recreation areas and contaminating drinking water to Iowans and millions of others living along the 1,700 mile route,” Silander said.

Bakken Pipeline, Zak Neumann
Protestors march down Mississippi River Road in Lee County on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016.

Statewide Day of Action

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 100 Grannies for a Livable Future and Bold Iowa members will meet at the Bread Garden in Iowa City at 12 p.m. to participate in a statewide Day of Direct Action Against DAPL. They will visit Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office at 1 p.m., and then head to local banks funding the pipeline to read letters and pass out flyers about divesting from the banks. Bold Iowa called for the day of action.

“Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for direct action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline,” according to Bold Iowa’s Facebook event page. “BATs will occupy the targeted space and read statements, press releases, articles and other material explaining why this pipeline is wrong. One or two members of each BAT will take photos and video. BATs either stay until arrested or until security threatens to arrest them. If BATs choose not to risk arrest, they then either disperse or travel to another site for a second action.”

At 3 p.m., activists will hang large banners off of the downtown pedestrian bridges.

Participants in the Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016 action sign letters to executives of Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, asking them to pull out their investments in companies funding the pipeline. — photo by Eleanore Taft

Mni Wiconi Benefit

The Saturday Wildwood event will include live music, food drive, speakers and auction to support the movement.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has been given the green light by Trump, so they’re gonna start building” said benefit organizer Annie Tye. “It’s definitely back on as far as the government’s concerned.”

“There’s still a lot happening at Standing Rock, and there’s a lot we can do in Iowa still to stop the pipeline,” said Dave Whiting, another organizer of the Wildwood Saloon event.

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When Whiting saw video of female water protectors being maced, he went to Standing Rock three times and it was a life-changing experience, he said. “I left invigorated to do as much as I possibly can, and what can I do? I know how to throw concerts,” he said.

“It’s an easy, fun way to get introduced to the Mni Wiconi movement, which is the movement of our lifetime,” Whiting said of Saturday’s event. Whiting said he is excited to use the Wildwood Saloon’s outstanding new sound system. “Cowboys need clean water too,” Whiting said. “The clientele might not be your typical progressive crowd, but they need clean water too, and this is an issue that transcends political boundaries.”

Guests can bring nonperishable food to the Wildwood Saloon event, which will be donated to Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, the original camp at Standing Rock. Headliners Mr. Blotto have already been collecting donations at previous stops on their tour.

Dawson Davenport of Indigenous Iowa will be among the event’s speakers. Winterland, a Grateful Dead tribute band, is also in the lineup. Winterland’s lead guitarist and vocalist Stacy Webster said he made an exception to his no-cover-bands MO because “being in a Grateful Dead tribute band is a lot like being in a jazz band, in that you’re playing covers technically, but you’re improvising everything.” Webster also plays with local bands the Feralings, the Mayflies and the Muckrockers, who played a recent NoDAPL benefit at Trumpet Blossom. He expects fans of Mr. Blotto, the event’s headlining jam band, to travel all the way from Chicago to see them perform.

There will be an auction at the Wildwood Saloon event, including a handmade bamboo hand drum and matching rain stick. Elisa Rose Mountain, a Chicago tattoo artist, created the logo for the event, which will be printed on the instruments. The design includes a thunderbird tattoo that tattoo artists nationwide are offering for $30, donating the entire amount to Standing Rock. The event’s organizers are considering asking a tattoo artist to set up at the event for this purpose.

Co-chair of the Native American Student Association Dawson Davenport addresses the crowd of protesters on the steps of the Old Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Davenport will speak at the Wildwood Saloon event. — photo by Zak Neumann

Some of the funds raised at the benefit will go to the Build With Standing Rock eco village in North Dakota.

“They’re going to combine ancient indigenous wisdom with state-of-the-art clean energy technology,” in the eco village at Standing Rock, Whiting said. “They’re going to combine solar power, wind, permaculture — and build this village which is going to be a meeting place, a winter camp, an embassy for the more than 300 nations who have gathered there, for generations to come. A learning center,” he said, “a blueprint for the rest of the world, a way to live free from fossil fuels.”

The rest of the funds will go to the Iowa version of the Standing Rock eco village, the Earth Mother Community Education Camp, which is just beginning construction. Indigenous Iowa activist Christine Nobiss said the camp will welcome visitors from Standing Rock on Feb. 25.

Whiting encourages those who do not support the pipeline to withdraw their money from Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America and other banks that help fund the pipeline. He suggests opening accounts at Hills Bank or the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, one of the Wildwood Saloon event’s sponsors.

“Something like $55 million in personal accounts have been moved out of those banks since that started, which is a drop in the bucket to what they’re spending on the pipeline, but it’s pressure, and all these things together are huge,” Whiting said.