Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock Sioux Protest

By Faye Higbee

You may not have heard about the “Dakota Access Pipeline,” but it’s the center of a controversy over land in the Dakotas. The Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting the light crude oil pipeline…they are worried that it will impact their water supply and disturb their sacred burial grounds. They believe once again the U.S. Government has violated a treaty.

Hoping the courts will stop it

At least 28 people have been arrested so far in the protests. The DAP promises to prosecute anyone who interferes with the construction. The tribe has filed for federal injunction against the construction, and are hoping the courts will stop it. Native tribes are flowing into the area as word spreads of the standoff.

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The Dakota Access Pipelne would carry North Dakota Bakken crude oil from the Dakotas to Illinois. Photo via Dakota Access Pipeline facts.

The 1,172 mile pipeline was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, but according to Indian Country media, did not take into account Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands in the area.

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Protesters congregate on tribal lands  on August 11 against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline – screenshot. The number of protesters continues to increase and stands at nearly 600 a week later.

Indian Country media network reported,

“…The proposed construction route is within a half-mile of the tribe’s reservation border, sparking concerns for protection of cultural resources that remain with the land. Hunkpapa religious and cultural sites are situated along the route of the pipeline, including burial sites of ancestors…

In the initial environmental assessment, the maps utilized by Dakota Access and the Army Corps did not indicate that SRST’s lands were close to the proposed Lake Oahe crossing. The company selected this route because the northern route ‘would be near and could jeopardize the drinking water of the residents in the city of Bismarck.’…

…Tribal leaders and environmental activists say the company’s draft environmental assessment of December 9, 2015 did not mention that the route they chose brings the pipeline near the drinking water of tribal citizens. In fact, it omitted the existence of the tribe on all maps and analysis, in violation of environmental justice policies.

Note: the above protest utilizes the “presenting” of horses to the “enemy” in a traditional manner. It’s noisy, but it’s peaceful, and scared the whoop out of the police. You’ll notice that they backed up a lot…

Work stopped on the pipeline Monday and possibly Wednesday, as authorities tried to figure out how they could find a way to “improve safety.”

The Bismark Tribune writes,

Workers were instructed to leave their equipment late Monday after youthful protesters walked onto the work site and surrounded the machinery. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the mix of people around the machinery caused him to stop work until an improved plan for safety could be developed. 

Kirchmeier said he didn’t know whether work would resume Wednesday (today), because some options were still in flux Tuesday evening. One option was the private landowner allowing his fence to be moved back into his property to give protesters more room to assemble off the highway.

Big Government versus Native Americans…again

The original map used by these agencies didn’t show the native tribe in its path – and months upon months of letters and meetings were completely ignored by the DAP and Army Corps of Engineers.

There were initially two routes under consideration, a northern one that was near Bismarck, and this southern one that crosses the Missouri River twice and could impact Lake Oahe near the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux.  The Army Corps of Engineers chose the one near the Sioux lands.

Can this pipeline affect their drinking water?

Corporations and the government always says that the latest technology is safe and that there will never be any problems or that their impact will be minimal.

The government’s own mistakes in the Gold King Mine in Colorado in 2015 impacted the drinking water of the Navajo for months. The Navajo Nation launched a lawsuit on August 16, 2016 against the Environmental Protection Agency over that incident.

Thus far, the protests have been peaceful. But busloads of other Native American tribes are coming as word spreads. That may not always be the case, but they are making an effort.

“We want peaceful demonstrations and I need everyone to understand that what we are doing, in the manner we are doing it, is working. By being peaceful and avoiding violence we are getting the attention needed to stop the pipeline.We’re getting the message out that all the wrongdoing that’s been done to Indian people will no longer be tolerated. But we’re going about it in a peaceful and respectful manner. If we turn to violence, all that will be for nothing. I’m hoping and praying that through prayer and peace, for once the government will listen to us.” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II