In recent weeks, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have reached national news, provoking comparisons to the widespread publicity around the Keystone XL pipeline. The tribe, however, has been protesting (or, in their preferred term, “protecting”) since 2014. The tribe filed a lawsuit on July 27, 2016 against the U.S. Army Corps and Dakota Access, LLC, claiming that the proposed Dakota Access pipeline threatens their reservation’s only water source and ancient sacred sites. Some of these sites have already been destroyed, and peaceful protesters have been met with force by security guards armed with mace and dogs. The judge involved in the case has also rejected a temporary injunction, which would have halted construction until the case was resolved.
Fortunately for the community at Standing Rock, three departments of the federal government released a statement today announcing a halt to all construction under and around Lake Oahe. The Justice Department, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior cited a need to determine whether the previous decision of the U.S. Army Corps to grant the pipeline construction request is in compliance with all federal laws; they also highlighted a need for government-to-government consultations to be held this fall in an effort to improve communication between tribes and the U.S. government around construction near sacred sites.
People across the country have been mobilizing in response to the protests and the violence which the tribe’s water protectors have been met. There was an action in Cambridge this past Thursday, for instance. A series of additional demonstrations are coming up in the Boston area over the next week:
- Tuesday, September 13, 8-10am outside of South Station (for more information: contact Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Saturday, September 17, 11 am- 3pm, Boston Common Park St T. This action will be calling on TD Bank to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline (see the facebook event page).
- If you’d like to organize an action near you, click here!
Donations of money and supplies are also being accepted by the water protectors (see this list of legal and financial ways to help).
As the case moves forward, remember that you can get involved in environmental justice work local to your area. It is important for non-Native protestors and accomplices to recognize that this is not only a climate issue, but a justice one. Indigenous people have faced resource extraction on their land for centuries, often without their permission or with any benefits provided to tribes. Seek out articles by indigenous writers on the Dakota Access Pipeline (such as this one). Read up on the history of relations between the U.S. government and tribes in your area. If you are a non-Native person organizing with indigenous groups, defer to native leadership and honor the struggle that has been going on for over 500 years.