Thousands of Native Americans from tribes all over the country have been camping in the path of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline for weeks or months, but yesterday the big news was about Jill Stein.
Stein and her Green Party running mate, Ajamu Baraka, showed up at a Tuesday morning demonstration in which two activists locked themselves to bulldozers. The Stein campaign did no organizing around the action, nor have they organized any part of the historic movement growing at the camp.
But, as several outlets reported yesterday, both Stein and Baraka were charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief. A Morton County Sherriff's Department affidavit said that officers saw video of Stein and Baraka spray-painting the words "I approve this message" and "decolonization" on construction equipment.
I wasn't there for those alleged misdemeanors, but I did see Stein show up to the action. She and Baraka gave a short speech on-site, and Stein later spoke in front of people gathered at the Oceti Sakowin camp. Stein used the opportunity to talk not just about the significance of the camp itself, but also (in more of a stump speech format) about the state of the economy, jobs, and her opponents.
According to sources here, however, Stein failed to show up in ways that mattered most.
One organizer who met with Jill Stein said that the Green Party candidate was asked whether she had a platform on indigenous rights, or even a tribal outreach coordinator. Stein's online platform currently says, "Defend indigenous rights, lands and treaties," but offers nothing more substantial than that. According to that same activist, Stein's campaign asked an activist present to serve as an outreach coordinator after being admonished for not having done the groundwork on tribal issues.
The activist also said that the Clinton campaign (which has a more detailed plan around indigenous rights) reached out to activists a week ago and asked them to gather and e-mail testimonials from people camping in North Dakota. Right now, the only source of consistent internet near the camp is wifi at the casino roughly 10 miles away, and the camp fluctuates between a roughly estimated 2,000 to 5,000 people. Such an undertaking would require an enormous amount of time and unpaid labor.
I've reached out to the Stein and Clinton campaigns for comment and will update if I hear back.