As of November 2, over 1.6 million people “checked in” on Facebook to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. This was done in an act of solidarity with the hundreds of people in North Dakota protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. These protests have been going on for months, and are not expected to stop anytime soon.
With winter approaching, conditions will soon become close to unbearable at the camps. People on site are risking their well-being, comfort and safety in order to take a stand against this pipeline. When you consider all that they are risking, you have to ask why.
This is the Dakota Access Pipeline. Stretching over 1000 miles, the pipeline will transport 400,000 barrels of fracked oil across 4 states every day. According to the layout, the pipeline will cross under the Missouri river twice. From it’s end point in Illinois, more pipelines will connect in order to transport the oil further across the country.
This image displays the number of “Crude Oil Pipeline Incidents” from 2010-2015. According to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety, “these spills and ruptures released over 7 million gallons of crude [oil],” with individual leaks ranging from a few to thousands of gallons each.
Pipelines break all of the time, meaning the problem with the Dakota Access Pipeline is not if it will break, but when and where. Those of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began protesting because this pipeline is a direct threat to their source of water: the Missouri River.
If the pipeline were to rupture anywhere near the river – and it could, as it crosses it twice – anyone along the river would be at risk. So those at Standing Rock are fighting for all of our rights to clean water, not just their own.
Which brings us to an even greater problem: the amount of mainstream media coverage on this issue is unacceptable. I asked 20 random KU students on Wescoe Beach earlier in the week about their opinions on the issue, and was surprised that more than half of the individuals I talked to were unaware anything was going on. Those who were aware admitted to getting their information from Facebook and other social media sites. And none had seen anything about Standing Rock on local or national television.
In an interview with Now This, President Obama addressed the lack of attention being paid to the issue and his plans moving forward. “My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.”
No, Obama. This isn’t enough. And it’s not what the bigger picture is about. This isn’t a simple territorial issue, but one of greater magnitude concerning basic human needs and rights. To reroute this pipeline would not solve the problem, it would only divert it into someone else’s backyard.
Those at Standing Rock right now are facing many dangers. Close to 150 people were arrested last week on charges of trespassing and obstruction. Hundreds have taken to social media to try and dispel the rumors of violence from the side of the protestors, live streaming disturbing footage of militant force. In most recent days, protestors have moved into the Missouri River in order to halt construction. Reports of hypothermia have been received, bringing attention to the lack of medical supplies and professionals available on site.
The issues facing the people at Standing Rock are important, and not enough people are talking about them. This is not a fight for one people, but for an entire nation of human beings who deserve to have clean, natural water. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a direct threat to human rights. Stand with Standing Rock. #NoDAPL
For more information about the pipeline and what you can do to help, visit standwithstandingrock.net