Protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline | Hannah Musgrave

Protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline

by Hannah Musgrave

In the south end of North Dakota the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline has been ongoing since late summer and is stated, by protesters, to continue through ordered evacuations and the harsh conditions of North Dakota’s winter. The project consists of a 1,172 mile pipeline stretching from North Dakota to Illinois which is designed to transport approximately 570,000 barrels of oil across the four states daily.

Unfortunately the pipeline is planned to travel under the Missouri River (the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primal water source) and through a sacred burial ground. In addition to the destruction of the tribe’s property, the pipeline proposes a major threat to their drinking water, any small leak having the ability to contaminate the Missouri River and cause harm to the tribe’s members.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has opposed the pipeline since first becoming aware of the proposal in 2014, but only now are their voices starting to be heard. The government has lightheartedly taken them into account by temporarily halting construction on the project in September, but with an overruling by the federal court, construction has resumed and protesters are again being fought instead of taken into consideration.

Police have brought violence to the protest sites, reportedly using pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion cannons, and dogs to charge protesters. Over 140 people have been arrested, including journalists and celebrities.There has been no official say on plans of the project, as far as cancellation or continuation regardless, and management of the protesters has been continually alternating.

Initially a forced evacuation was issued, met with much opposition, and now revised to a passive evacuation. Responders for emergency situations will no longer be held responsible for responding to the areas of the protest and a blockade will surround the area, permitting supplies to be transported and people who enter are now officially trespassing and will face consequences.

This resurrects feelings of oppression which are very similar to what Native American tribes have dealt with previously, "You have a government agency trying to declare us trespassers on our own treaty land and threatening to penalize us, criminally charge us and possibly forcibly round us up if we don't return to the reservation," one Tribal Leader commented.