The Dakota Access Pipeline, a story that will go down in protest history with the likes of The Vietnam War protests, Gandhi’s Salt March, The March on Washington, and many more. Whether or not some of these protests are covered in controversy they are some of the most famous and influential protests of all time. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been riddled in controversy, protestors being called anti-energy, supporters being called anti-Native American, a hazardous danger to the environment, etc… Today the Army Corp of Engineers announced that it has decided to look for alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross.
This re-routing of The Dakota Access Pipeline has become a big deal on social media with celebrities like Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Shailene Woodley being among the biggest supporters. Probably the biggest reason for the outcry against the pipeline has been social media. As we have all seen, social media has become a factor in everything political being used to influence voters on who to vote for and to sway people on topics such as the pipeline. It can be argued that social media and the ease to trick and sway voters is a fundamental issue in our society today, but that’s an entirely different issue to be discussed. The ability for social media to reach almost 2 billion people worldwide has helped celebrities like Shailene Woodley to lead the fight and convince fans to support the re-routing.
Social Media has also helped supporters try to convince people of the importance for The Dakota Access Pipeline. Paul Ryan has tweeted out, “This is big-government decision making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us.” Others supporters like North Dakota Senator John Hoeven (R) stated last week that he had a meeting with President-elect Trump and claims Trump supports the completion of the 1,172 mile long pipeline which would transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day over four states. President-elect Trump has also shown his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, stating in a memo that, “[This] has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans”. Even though the pipeline is being re-routed it has not been halted completely. It may not be a win for supporters but it is not a loss.
The biggest winners of the re-route are not celebrities or the thousands of protestors who camped out it is the Sioux Tribe who originally started the protests back in April. The Dakota Access Pipeline was planned to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The lake is the main water supply for their reservation. The Sioux Tribe has stated that the pipeline would have been hazardous and damaging to the water supply. For the Sioux Tribe who have been camped out for months the re-routing of the pipeline has come as a surprise. The past eight months has been filled with riots against the police, imprisonment, injury, and so much more. Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe said after the announcement, “People have said that this [pipeline protests] is a make it or break it, and I guess we made it.” Tribal leaders have stated their concern that the re-routing of the pipeline may not remain permanent with the incoming administration of President-elect Trump but for now the announcement to re-route the pipeline is a win.
It doesn’t matter what side everyone falls on in the debate of the Dakota Access Pipeline it has to be considered one of the greatest protests in our history. The influence of social media on the re-routing of the pipeline is exponential. It caused millions of people to become aware of the issues regarding the pipeline and is the reason for thousands of people to drive or fly out the North Dakota to protest the pipeline. The pipeline has caused so many issues for the Sioux Tribe but now that it is being re-routed the tribe can rest and pray that the change to re-route is final.