Thousands of protesters are gathering in North Dakota — and it could lead to ‘nationwide reform’

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Cannon Ball, North Dakota to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a proposed 1,172-mile pipeline enabling North Dakota-produced oil reach refining markets in Illinois.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have attempted to block the project because it passes through North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a sacred site and a major water source for the Standing Rock Sioux.

Whether or not the tribe is successful in stopping the pipeline, it is clear that the protest is reshaping the national conversation for any environmental project that would cross the Native American land.


While members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes began protesting the project as early as April, protests heated up in August as numbers increased to the thousands.

Source: Mother Jones


The Tribe, and other Native Americans in Cannon Ball, are protesting the pipeline mainly because the route would cross sacred burial grounds, and a potential oil spill could contaminate the tribe’s drinking water.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: EcoWatch


The tribe has consistently reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers, the main government body charged with approving the pipeline, since the project was announced in 2014. The tribe filed an injunction in early August to block construction, but a judge rejected the request.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: EcoWatch


“This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects,” the US Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said in a joint statement after the judge denied the request.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: The Guardian


When the protests increased in size in August, the division director of homeland security ordered the removal of North Dakota-owned water tanks that had been providing protesters with water.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: Mother Jones


Dozens of tribes have offered support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their protest. Their flags line the main entrance to the encampment.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


This is the Seven Council camp, one of three encampments. There are more than five dozen Native tribes represented at the village-like camp.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: EcoWatch


A group from the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation in Mount Pleasant, Michigan wait to raise the reservation’s flag after entering an encampment.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: MLive


About 30 people, including the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II, have been arrested in recent weeks for interfering with construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.


Joye Braun, an organizer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline opposition, has been at the protest site since April and has vowed to remain until the project is killed.


Jon Don Ilone Reed, an Army veteran and member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said he fought in Iraq and is now fighting “fighting for our children and our water.”

Source: Charlotte Observer


Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is one of many high-profile supporters of the protest. Actresses Shailene Woodley, Rosario Dawson, and Riley Keough have also joined protests.


The protests turned violent last weekend when demonstrators pushed past a wire fence and were met by security officers with guard dogs and pepper spray.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: NPR


Despite the bitter standoff, protesters finally got some good news on Friday, when the Obama administration and three federal agencies asked Energy Transfer Partners to halt construction.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: Reuters


“Our hearts are full, this an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “Our voices have been heard.”

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Despite the government’s request, some tribal sites could still face the risk of damage or destruction. The federal government cannot ensure that Energy Transfer will voluntarily stop working on the pipeline.

Source: EcoWatch.


The government said in a statement that it will discuss with local tribes ways “to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.”

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: The Guardian


It could lead to oil companies needing agreements from tribes for major projects because, according to Kevin Lee, attorney of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, “the geography of the American West is such that you can’t start any kind of big project without crossing Native American land.”

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Source: BuzzFeed