Update: Struggle for Clean Water and Tribal Sovereignty Intensifies in North Dakota Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

no_dapl-holding_the_line-courtesy_honor_the_earth-1A U.S. District Judge ordered Native American protesters Wednesday to stop blocking the construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline set to cross four states and major rivers, said a Sioux official.

The temporary restraining order follows days of protest which have halted construction at the site.

As of today, Wednesday, August 17th, 28 people total have been arrested at the construction area by the Sacred Stone Camp, home base for those defending the land and water from this pipeline. Highway 1806 near Mandan has been closed and traffic has been re-routed. At least 1,000 people are protecting this area as best they can with non-violent civil disobedience and ceremonies.

On July 25, 2016, Energy Transfer Partners received their final water crossing permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. These permits were for all 200 of the water crossings along the path of the pipeline, including the most potentially destructive point near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s northern border. The grand DAP plan is to carry 450,000 barrels of fracked crude oil per day. It will stretch from the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota 1,172 miles to Patoka, Illinois.

Federal law requires meaningful consultation with affected Indian nations for projects such as this, yet that didn’t happen despite many requests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation (SRST) to company, state and federal officials, and to Congress. Tribal representatives met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to discuss the harm imposed by the pipeline. All three of these agencies proceeded to write letters to the Army Corps expressing the need for environmental reviews and respect of cultural resources. All of these letters were ignored, and the final permits were granted.

According to Indian Country Today Media Network, “On July 27, SRST filed litigation in federal court in the District of Columbia to challenge the actions of the Corps regarding the Dakota Access pipeline. The suit seeks to enforce the tribal nation’s federally protected rights and interests. The nation is seeking a preliminary injunction to undo the Corps’ approval of the pipeline at a hearing on August 24. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and several other native nations have asked to join the lawsuit.” On August 8th, the builders of Dakota Access called the SRST to give them 48 hours notice that on August 10th, construction would begin for an “access corridor and staging area where pipes and other equipment will be stored for construction”.

red_camp_water_protectors-courtesy_natalie_handSheriff Kirchmeier of Morton County declared during a press conference today that construction will cease for now on the pipeline due to the ongoing protests. He also publicly claimed that the protesters were preparing to throw “pipe bombs, m-80s, and fireworks”, and reasoned that because of these unfounded rumors, that the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are having an “unlawful protest”.

No physical evidence nor video to substantiate these claims has been found nor released, and every response to the sheriff’s assertions from people who are participating in the defense of this sacred water and land is that law enforcement is lying outright, and that the water defenders have been and will continue to carry out non-violent actions of prayer and ceremony. One can see from the many photos taken at the sites and posted on Facebook that there are children, elders, women, and people of all ages taking part in this peaceful, yet powerful, action. The police are the only ones who can be seen acting out violently against other human beings. According to Censored News, one water defender reported that, “Yesterday during the Water Prayer at the river, people – including children – had guns pointed at them from Dakota Access Pipeline crews from the easy shoreline. A few days ago women who were arrested were bruised and manhandled by the Dakota Access Pipeline security and police! But the judge issued a restraining order (against the protesters, dated Aug. 16th) and said it was to ensure the safety of the DAP work crew. Money talks!”

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Previous articles:

May 20th 2016 – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Allies Work to Defeat the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

June 6th 2016 – Update on Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline