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Alaskans Stand With Standing Rock Sioux

Sept. 9, 2016

By JoaqlinEstus

Several Alaskans have traveled to North Dakota to join a protest over construction of an oil pipeline under the Missouri River, a source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux and millions more people.

The pipeline was originally routed to cross the Missouri near the state capital, until, the Sioux allege, powerful interests complained about the threat of oil spills to Bismarck’s water supply. The plan now is for it to cross the river near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying it inappropriately put Energy Transfer Partners’ permit application for the new route on a fast track to approval.

In an online video, attorney Jan Hasselman says the tribe submitted documentation on graves and cultural sites in the path of the pipeline last Friday. He says he was “shocked and stunned” Saturday that, he alleges, Energy Transfer diverted heavy equipment to those very sites to move earth. 

The Associated Press reports Energy Transfer said assailants broke through a fence and attacked workers. The sheriff's office said four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured.

Amy Goodman, with the online news service Democracy Now has posted footage [beginning at 16:39 min.] showing private security guards with what look like German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois dogs on leashes. One of the dogs already had blood on its muzzle when its owner pulled it into the crowd of protesters. The video shows protesters with wounds they said were due to dog bites. One scene shows a man in a crowd struggling to control his horse as it evaded an attacking dog. 

The tribe reported six people were bitten, including a young child, and more than 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

Tuesday U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered a halt to construction on about 20 miles of the pipeline until he ruled on the tribe's broader challenge. A federal court is expected to rule today [Friday] on whether pipeline construction goes forward. The Governor of North Dakota has called in the National Guard to assist law enforcement.  

Alaskans protest North Dakota pipeline by paddling in solidarity

by Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, Anchorage [Click here for original story.]

Thursday [Sept. 8, 2016], members of the Southeast Alaska One People Canoe Society paddled on the Missouri River. Wearing traditional hats and blue life vests, the Alaskans are there to help protest an oil pipeline. If it's built, the pipeline would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Catherine Edwards, who is from Juneau but now lives in Washington, is a member of the Tlingit and Haida Central Council. She was standing on a windy hill waiting for her daughter MicianaHutcherson, who was helping paddle the canoe. Before they started down the river, Edwards says the group held a ceremony with water they brought from the Pacific Northwest.
 
“They brought the water down with them, poured it in, did a water ceremony, poured it into the river,” said Edwards, “and said we now stand with you in your body of water, to keep it protected, to keep it safe.”

Edwards says there's a feeling of unity among the protesters.

“I mean you can feel it, you can feel it's a movement, you can feel it's a shift, you can feel people coming together and, you know, 'hi where are you from, you know, these are our issues, our issues are similar to yours.'” Edwards continued, “And we all want to stand up here and say 'we're done, we're done with this. You can't just walk over us anymore.'”

Several national news outlets reported some violent clashes between demonstrators and private security guards. But Edwards says organizers are emphasizing non-violent protests.

Inside Energy is a public media collaboration focused on America’s energy issues and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Alaska’s first commercial retail cannabis businesses receive state approval

Excerpts of a story by Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media [click here for full story.]

The state approved its first licenses for commercial cannabis businesses Thursday, a major step for prospective retailers hoping to open shop before year's end.

Fairbanks’ Frozen Budz was the state’s first shop to be approved. The first for Anchorage is a Spenard shop called Enlighten Alaska. Co-owner Jane Stinson says getting the license is a major step forward.

"What this means to us is that we have a lot of work to do,” said Stinson. “So this'll allow us to start our build-out, or continue with it. And start communicating, networking with all of our vendors and the folks who've already received their cultivation licenses."

Stinson is also working on getting a special land use permit from the Municipality.

The state's Marijuana Control Board has already approved dozens of commercial cultivation licenses.

It also approved licenses for manufacturers of products like edibles and concentrates.

The board delayed action on a proposal that would give certain retail stores permission to have areas where customers could light up.

Meanwhile, major questions about transportation, financing, and security remain as officials and entrepreneurs grapple with the new marijuana industry.

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On Sept. 11, 2016, text was added to complete the earlier post, which didn't include the full text of the broadcast.