No National Park Service Police at Standing Rock
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As arrests loom at Standing Rock, eyewitnesses have documented numerous National Park Service law enforcement officers gathering near the site of the Standing Rock encampments. There are no National Parks within 170 miles of the encampments that might explain the officers' presence. Edit: National Parks Traveler is reporting that the NPS Law Enforcement units are there at the request of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which asked the Interior Department for assistance in maintaining public safety..
This is an inappropriate and offensive use of National Park Service resources. As an agency, the National Park Service still bears the legacy of eviction of Native people from lands it seeks to protect. Yosemite National Park, one of NPS's "crown jewels," originated with the eviction of the Ahwanechee people from Yosemite Valley. And Yosemite is just one example.
NPS is charged with protection not just of wildlife and scenery but also of cultural resources important to Native peoples. As NPS struggles to become a responsible and responsive caretaker of those cultural resources, using NPS officers to evict activists from Standing Rock will severely damage any collegial relationships between Park Services resource protection staff and Native peoples whose interests those cultural resources represent.
Our National Parks have enough law enforcement needs already, from vandalism and theft of resources to public safety. NPS law enforcement officers should be working where they are needed, and not detailed to Standing Rock to perpetuate the Park Service's unfortunate legacy of colonialism.
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