The Standing Rock Sioux tribe along with their supporters, both Native and non-Native, have been camping near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers for nearly two months in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
If built, this pipeline would carry nearly half a million gallons of oil a day from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota, underneath the Missouri river at Lake Oahe and down to a refinery in Patoka, Illinois. For the Standing Rock tribe, it would run less than half a mile from their reservation – putting cultural sites, the quality of their water and certain sensitive environmental areas in danger.
Director of the Center for American Indian Studies Sean Daley said that although the land is not technically on a reservation, it’s still land that Native people have rights to and the government has obligations to.
Before the company behind the DAPL, Energy Transfers Partners, began work on the pipeline, the Army Corps of Engineers failed to address environmental and cultural concerns with the tribal leaders.This failure violated the National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA), the Clean Water Act and various other statutes. The Standing Rock Tribe filed a request for a preliminary injunction against the company asking to momentarily halt construction of the pipeline while an analysis of cultural and environmental impacts takes place. As a result of this lawsuit, the government has asked all construction within 20 miles of Lake Oahe to be stopped and no further permits to be issued while the current ones are reviewed.
“This is more concerning in the sense of what does this mean for the country as a whole than simple Native or non-Native issues,” Daley said. “That means that if they’re going to do it there, they’re going to do it on another reservation.”
Those who support the pipeline believe that its construction will create jobs and positively impact the economy. The pipeline would also be bringing more domestically acquired energy, helping the country move away from using foreign imported oil.
“For the Lakota and other Indian nations that have had this happen near their land, this is about power, this is about fighting back against yet another attempt to if not directly affect their land, to potentially impact their land in the future with a spill or whatever the case may be,” said Executive Director of the Center for Sustainability, Jay Antle. “It’s kind of a larger resistance to what they see as a desecration of the earth, which one can argue that climate change is doing.”
For those interested in contributing to the Standing Rock tribes and the protestors currently on the front lines, the Center for American Indian Studies is available as a connection. The center has already sent up first aid supplies to those in need. With winter rapidly approaching, they will be in need of cold weather supplies such as firewood and large tents.
There are a variety of ways to stay informed on this issue. By following the tribes that are located here in Kansas, one can receive updates on the current situation in Standing Rock.
“The best thing you can do to help right now is stand for them, get the word out and get the word out properly,” Daley said. “Don’t buy into the political agendas and the misinformation being fed out there. Use your critical thought skills, see what’s out there and be informed.”