Gov’t Sponsors Concert Benefiting Dakota Oil Pipeline Protester

(photo:REUTERS/Cheryl Gerber )

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Singer-songwriter David Matthews is headlining a Obama administration-sponsored concert for the benefit of a Democratic congressional candidate involved in protests to stop the building of a controversial oil pipeline.

The “Turnaround: Arts Sings With Standing Rock” will feature performances by Matthews, Mic Jordan, Ledisi, DJ IZ, among other B-list celebrities.

A poster for the show states Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard will serve as emcee along with Chase Iron Eyes, a member of Standing Rock Sioux and a Democratic candidate for North Dakota. It is slated to take place Tuesday, Oct. 11 near campsites set up to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Turnaround: Arts” is a program under the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities that aims to stimulate success in under-performing schools around the country. Its association with Chase Iron Eyes suggests the government program may be departing somewhat from its educational mission.

Standing Rock Sioux argues the $4 billion project’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts. They also believe it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.

Activists and tribes members fought with the oil pipeline developers over whether the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) could prevent construction of the pipeline. The NHPA, among other things, allows the government to preserve historical and archaeological sites.

A prolonged court battle culminated in the District Court for the District of Columbia denying a motion for a preliminary injunction to the Standing Rock Sioux, arguing that the Native American tribe could not show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground. An appeals court would later overturn the motion, and ruled to temporarily halt the pipeline.

An ad-mixture of celebrities, protestors and Native American groups are not giving up the fight.

The protest has also attracted the attention of other actresses, such as Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder at a rally in August with anti-fracking documentarian Josh Fox, as well as Keystone XL pipeline opponent Jane Kleeb.

“The Revenant” actor Leonardo Dicaprio tweeted in May that he was “standing with the Great Sioux Nation to protect their water and lands.”

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