So, remember the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe straddling the Dakotas? Yeah, their sacred burial land and adequate drinking water are being threatened right now by the Dakota Access Pipeline being built by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC.
You, of course, may have heard about this in the news, but I'll break it down a bit before getting into the recent events. But to give you a preview, there have been lawsuits overturned and even 27 arrests in a single day including an actress you may know. While this is a news article, keep in mind that I am in favor of the Native Americans battling their claim for reserved land.
The link above makes the DAP sound so hunky-dory for the surrounding community and domestic American oil. However, a conglomerate of Native American tribes, as well as outside support, have spent the last six months protesting the DAP because of its negative political and environmental impact.
Politically, Dakota Access claims that it will lawfully compensate and consult landowners about the land that the pipeline will flow through. But as a multi-billion dollar company, there are funds and legal methods that the company can use *cough bullying* in order to gain access to the land.
According to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the lawsuit they filed with Earth Justice, the company unlawfully attained permits to construct on archaeologically significant land for the Tribe. This includes burial sites and rock structures representing the Tribe's long heritage.
A 1,100-mile-long pipeline is the "most efficient way to transport energy resources" according to Dakota Access. But of course, there are sources researching the actual probability of an oil spill in the Missouri River (as the DAP will cross the River to reach Illinois).
The Sierra Club which is starkly standing against the DAP found a likely probability of pipeline spillage in a pipeline that crosses underneath a body of water. This has happened before in the Yellowstone River. And as the Missouri River runs farther south than where the DAP will cross it, those in the immediate area won't be the only ones affected by an oil spill. Those downriver will face water pollution and corrupted water sources in the case of the DAP bursting.
Which, let's be honest, Dakota Access can't promise won't happen.
Does that help lay the groundwork for you? Good, moving on.
The Tribe moved forward with the federal lawsuit in July which brought about a halt in construction. Yay, right?
Unfortunately, no. A weekend decision by a federal judge (re: NPR article) overturned their lawsuit claiming that while, US government relations with Native American land and people has been, "contentious and tragic", the Army Corps of Engineers who is designing the pipeline properly complied with notifying the Tribe.
The protests have brought together people from the Tribe, other Native American tribes, as well as outsiders. Multiple Native American tribe leaders got together in a sign of unity against the pipeline. And of course, Bernie Sanders, the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination has spoken up about the negative implications of the DAP.
But unfortunately in protests against big business and governmental projects, this means big arrests. This includes Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein who has a warrant out for her arrest as well as actress Shailene Woodly who was arrested for trespassing and riot activity. She live streamed the events leading up to her arrest for her 40 thousand Facebook followers.
I suggest starting at around 5:26 to see her arrest.
The The Departments of Army, Interior and Justice invited all federally recognized tribes to consult with them about private land interference and the preservation of their land. But the Tribe stated in a press release that they expected more, especially in relation to the Environmental Protection Act. Below is a particularly salty statement:
" This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline. They can start by stopping construction until the [environmental impact statement] is complete."
For what it's worth, I appreciate the use of star power and social media to spread the word about a socially and environmentally relevant issue. I also appreciate the brave people fighting... *sigh* on both sides because this must be a difficult task to navigate.
...But I especially respect and admire those protesting on the front of what could be one of the largest decisions made in recent Native American rights history. I support your legal and physical barriers against Dakota Access.