The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe launched a crowdfunding website on December 21. CRST created www.wakpawaste.com not only to fundraise for legal costs, but to also raise awareness about the tribe’s history, dispossession of treaty land and natural resources, and to feature a 35-minute documentary.
The website is also a platform to provide information about CRST’s battles against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines.
CRST gained national attention in 2014 when it challenged the federal government and the state of South Dakota over a permit that was granted for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In protest of the pipeline, outraged tribal members established the Pte Ospaye Spiritual Camp in Bridger.
In November 2015, the construction permit was rejected by then-President Barack Obama, and many believed that the Keystone XL project was slain.
One year later, CRST was fighting yet another pipeline that crossed their treaty lands. Federal departments and organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have stated that the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the tribe and 22 million people downstream.
The slogan “Stand With Standing Rock” exploded all over mainstream media as thousands of people congregated to Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone Camps.
Although CRST was legally battling DAPL in courts and on the frontlines of the protest, hardly any mention was made of the tribe while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was thrust into the national spotlight. A quick search on the internet will yield numerous articles about SRST, but not CRST as an equal stakeholder and partner in lawsuits against the pipeline.
On his second day in office, President Donald Trump signed executive orders advancing the permit process of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
According to www.wakpawaste.com, CRST is still engaged in legal battles with both pipelines and recently won a case in federal court. U.S. District Court for Washington D.C. ruled against DAPL and acknowledged that the treaty rights of the tribe were violated.
Various fundraising accounts were created by individuals, tribes, and advocacy groups during the height of the Stand With Standing Rock/NoDAPL movement; however, only once did CRST set up such a website at www.crowdjustice.com. The fundraising effort failed.
According to the Crowd Justice website, it is structured to allow people to pledge money instead of instantly donating funds. Only when a minimum target amount is reached are the pledges honored. CRST set a minimum goal of raising $4,355 for legal fees associated with fighting DAPL. Around $425 was raised, and donation pledges were not honored. The tribe received no funding from that campaign.
There are numerous photos of the direct-action events at the Oceti Sakowin camp on the website. The website features maps of treaty lands and current reservation boundaries. The history of the flooding of the Old Agency by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also presented on the website.
The recently-launched website is a renewed effort to help fund CRST’s legal battles. As of press time, over $500 had been donated on the website.