It was horsemanship day at the Red Warrior Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and we had set ourselves up in the minimal shade of a small break of willow trees. It was the only shade around, and people drifted in to watch the riding events, joining us away from the blistering sun. We started talking with a local guy, and were delighted to realize that he was responsible for some great video footage of the area taken from a drone. In fact, it was the very footage that helped catalyze our own decision to drive all the way from Milwaukee to North Dakota, in order to witness the phenomenal gathering in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline being ramrodded through by corporate America and their police and security forces. The following is a Q & A that we at OLB conducted with Shiyé Bidzííl (Dean Dedman, Jr.) and his “drone2Bwild” photo and video project that can be found here:
My name is Dean Dedman Jr. I am half Hunkpapa Lakota and also half Dine (Navajo). I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I am the pilot behind the controls of Drone2bwild. I was living in Mobridge, SD where Lake Oahe is located. But since the fight has come to the lands of my people and ancestors, I took it upon myself to come here to the Cannon Ball River to stand and fight for the waters and lands that we all share on this planet. I have been camping here going on five weeks now, I have sacrificed everything in order to be here and do what I am doing. I’m planning on staying here till the very end and until we Water Protectors put an end to DAKOTA ACCESS and its atrocities towards our sacred sites.
My interests in drones came at the beginning of this year, when I bought my first Phantom 3 Advanced. I was so intrigued with this new technology that I worked all year and saved up enough money to get my own, and since then I’ve been flying every single day here at the camps. I want to show the people that drones can be used for good, because right now when people hear the word drones, they automatically think, FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, and DAPL!… So using this technology has really educated the people at the camp about drones, and now they welcome the use of the drone, especially when we have canoe actions or horse races. The drone is here to cover these events as history is being made each day. This camp is expanding and getting bigger by the day. Everyone is still on edge, and waiting for the next move that DAPL will be making… Will they still be working secretly? Will they bring in more security forces? Questions like these run through my head and amongst the camps, but for now we are all here bringing the awareness and solidarity of all these tribes that have shown up to stand with us and to put an end to this Black Snake.
The work I have been doing for this movement has had a huge impact and has been very beneficial to my indigenous peoples fighting against this pipeline. The Drone2bwild page went viral and my drone footage has been shared around the world. Messages from people all over the world come in by the day expressing prayers and support for what I am doing. Simple drone technology has given us activists and grassroots people the upper hand in surveillance and has allowed me to show the world this movement from a higher perspective. I was the first drone pilot to follow this movement from the start, providing the first drone footage of the resistance against Dakota Access Pipeline construction workers and the clash between law enforcement and Water Protectors.
Since that time, this place has blown up with major media outlets from around the world. Now there are a few more drone pilots here at the camps, which has become a concern for the Morton County Sheriff Department. They have already addressed that they are looking for a drone pilot. Who would they be looking for? All I know is I gotta stay one step ahead of them. It is now week 5 and the media has blown up now and they have been targeting journalist and drone pilots alike. I have been warned by the Morton County law enforcement that what I am doing with the drone is illegal, yet we have helicopters and planes flying way below their intended flight altitudes, and I have also seen DAPL security use the same drones we are using to survey the pipeline and to spy on our peoples at the camps.
I feel that they are trying to keep drones out of skies because of the heavy media attention they are getting for their wrongs and lies they have been spreading. One other drone pilot almost had his Phantom 4 taken from him, but was given back when the crowd closed in on the officer who grabbed it. I am also prepared to face resistance from both FAA and law enforcement in the coming weeks. However, I am here for one reason, and that is to protect our precious water at all cost. I will use every talent and skill that I have to protect our children’s future. I do this for my kids, my twin boys and baby girl. They were born from water, we are water, water is essential to all life in the universe. Let’s take care of it! Let’s take care of this planet! Let’s stand up and show these big fossil fuel giants that we are here and we will fight and die for what we hold dear to our hearts and that this is the spirit of the water and the earth.
This whole movement has changed my life and the way I now look at the world. The future of this pipeline is total shut down, but the future of this movement is only the beginning of a world wide stand against all of this environmental degradation that we see every day. I love what I do and I am very proud of my accomplishments with this drone footage.