It’s official. The US Army has decided that it will not allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cut through the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
After months of peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and enduring a brutal backlash from the North Dakota police, the protesters have finally been heard. On Sunday, December 4, 2016, the US Army Corps for Engineers announced that it would undertake an environmental impact survey and look for alternative routes for the pipeline (BBC).
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and a slew of allies who joined them, including celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Matt McGory, and veterans, have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed pathway would run over sacred burial sites and possibly contaminate the reservation’s drinking water, as part of the pipeline would be installed under Lake Oahe.
The protest gained coverage towards the end of November, when the North Dakota police decided to disperse protestors using water cannons in below freezing temperature, tear gas, and rubber bullets, under the claim that the protestors were starting fires and destroying property (BBC). This use of excessive force even led the United Nations to release a statement on the situation.
Although this victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Water Protectors is uplifting, the escalation of this protest reflects the inequality and harsh realities faced by Native Americans. An earlier route that was explored had the pipeline cross through Bismarck, ND, but this plan was rejected as it was determined that an oil spill could threaten Bismarck’s water supply and it would have lengthened the pipeline (The Bismarck Tribune). The fact of the matter is, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe should not have had to protest this long and endure the police’s use of excessive force to protect their sacred burial sites and water source.
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