North Dakota Access Pipeline threatens environment and Native American rights

In more recent months, the Native American protests against the Dakota Access pipeline have brewed much recognition for the rights of the indigenous, as well as the environmental risks that corporate greed has and will pose on both land and water.

What exactly is the Dakota Access Pipeline?

This $3.78 billion project, most well-known as The Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) or the Bakken Pipeline, would transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota down to a refinery outside Patoka, Illinois, near Chicago. The pipeline is slated to run 1,172 miles through a 30-inch pipe, where it will join with extant pipelines and travel onward to refineries and markets in the Gulf and on the East Coast.

Who is building the Dakota Access Pipeline?

The DAPL is being built by Dakota Access, LLC, a unit of the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. According to the firm, the pipeline will transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

What is the significance?

The Dakota Access pipeline will be trespassing and destroying sacred lands and burial grounds of historic, religious, and cultural significance of the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribes. Not only will the pipeline reek havoc on the land and the future of the tribes, but it will also place downstream communities at risk of contamination from indubitable oil spills in the Missouri River. For the Standing Rock Sioux, the Missouri provides drinking water and irrigation, all the while, its riverbanks grow innumerable plants of cultural importance. The project violates native treaties with US government, as it has been developed without consultation of tribal governments.

Who is resisting and how?

As time progresses, the pipeline seems to be a done deal, though resistance and protests of all sorts perpetuate. The project has faced many months of opposition, ranging back from April, and is continuing on as we speak. Indigenous nations from across the Americas, as well as thousands of non-Native allies, have been nonviolently protesting and rallying against the construction of the DAPL. Activists call themselves “water protectors” and have repeatedly emphasized that they intend to remain peaceful and unarmed. Protestors have created a self-sustaining community and assembled semi-permanent structures in advance of the harsh winter. Those on the frontlines of standoffs with police and military forces have, at times, been faced with Mace, rubber bullets, and suffered severely injured ligaments.

What is the response of the federal government?

Barack Obama’s first remarks since the escalation of the protests have not included specific proposals or commitments, stating that the government was “going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.” Since then, the Dakota Access Pipeline has quietly received full regulatory permission to begin construction, which they most certainly have. As of Nov 28th, protestors fighting the pipeline’s construction must vacate property near the Cannonball River in North Dakota by Dec 5th or face arrest, according to Army Corps of Engineers.

How have police responded to demonstrations?

Agencies from across the state, the Morton County sheriff’s office, and Cass County law enforcement, have formed a highly militarized police force that has aggressively targeted protestors who attempt to block pipeline construction. As of Nov 26th, there have been more than 400 arrests. Police are armed with large tanks and riot gear- using teargas, pepper spray, Tasers, rubber bullets, and various other “less-than-lethal” weapons to respond. Not only that, but North Dakota’s governor, Jack Dalrymple, also called in the national guard. Native Americans, countless journalists, and film-makers have been charged with rioting, criminal trespassing, and resisting arrest by law enforcement. It is only a matter of time before lives of those standing up for water are lost, all in the name of power-hungry, money-driven corporations.

How are Native Americans spreading awareness?

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with numerous others, have created the hashtags #NoDAPL and #IStandWithStandingRock to raise awareness and support about the injustice being committed right here on US soil. Additionally, the “Water Protectors” have created a social media campaign to reach the minds of those who may not necessarily stay updated with recent news, but are consistently checking social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Despite mainstream media’s efforts to keep the pipeline’s coverage at a minimum, tribes and even celebrities such as Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo have done just the opposite.

For many, this may seem like history repeating itself, and in many cases, it is. Native Americans are being forcefully removed from their land by the U.S. government, and treaties are being completely disregarded.

To sum up this situation, riot police from 20 agencies who have no jurisdiction at Standing Rock, are invading sacred land to arrest American citizens on private property in North Dakota for peacefully protesting local water from being poisoned by a company run by a Texan Fracking billionaire at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Not only that, but the DAPL was re-routed through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s residents feared it could poison their drinking water. The Sioux are being forced at gunpoint to accept ecological risks that North Dakota’s white residents refused.

Ironically enough, just days ago people geared up for Thanksgiving to ‘give thanks,’ yet Native Americans were tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and hosed with water.

This absurd situation may provoke a sense of helplessness to us as both ‘opponents’ are reluctant to surrender. However, more than ever it is our duty as citizens of the United States to never settle for injustice, and to defend the only home we have, Earth.

We fight pipelines by taking away the money they use to fund them. XTP has until Dec 31st to complete the pipeline or they will acquire quite terrible fines. This is a battle that we the people will win. There are many methods in which you will make a difference, without even leaving your house.

Call federal offices and officials. Some of which include: North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, phone number 701-328-2200, a legislator at the State Capitol, phone number 701-282-5211, or Washington, D.C. Office, phone number 202-225-2611 to voice to them that you do not support the interests of the wealthy and oil.

You can also sign petitions, one of which is here:

Donate money on Standing Rock Sioux’s GoFundMe, or even donate food, clothes, blankets, or tools to help the protestors in North Dakota to survive the brutal coming month.

We mustn’t turn a blind eye to the genocide of Native Americans, nor should we allow rich white men to destroy any more of the American water supplies.

As a HC student, you can make a positive impact on not only the DAPL, but for the future of this country. The well-being of our people, our land, and our water lies in our hands.