The images flew around the world. The teepees. The tear gas. The Indigenous water protectors’ camps. The boots advancing in unison as security forces cracked down on protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline. The defiance. The hundreds of arrests.
“While Sioux leaders advocated for protests to remain peaceful, State law enforcement officials, private security companies and the North Dakota National Guard employed a militarized response to protests,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, wrote in a recent report. A mercenary firm had been surveilling the pipeline opposition movement and engaged in military-style counter-terrorism measures, according to an investigative report published by The Intercept.
The use of counter-terrorism tactics against Indigenous protesters in the US reflects a global trend. But in many parts of the world, and particularly in Latin America, Indigenous leaders and activists are also openly and explicitly criminalized as terrorists. The use of anti-terrorism and national security legislation and policies against Indigenous activists is becoming more and more common.