Dakota Access Pipeline
In the summer of 2016, a group of young activists from Standing Rock ran from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to present a petition in protest of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is part of the Bakken pipeline. They launched an international campaign called ReZpect our Water. The activists argue that the pipeline, which goes from North Dakota to Illinois, would jeopardize the water source of the reservation, the Missouri River.
By late September, it was reported that there were over 300 federally recognized Native American tribes and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 pipeline resistance supporters residing in the camp, with several thousand more on weekends.
The pipeline construction company claimed they hired the security company because the protests have not been peaceful. The Morton County Sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier, described the September 3, 2016 protest, saying protesters crossed onto private property and attacked security guards with “wooden posts and flag poles.” He said, “Any suggestion that today’s event was a peaceful protest, is false.”
Dakota Access agreed to temporarily halt construction in parts of North Dakota, until September 9, to help “keep the peace.” When a federal judge denied the injunction sought by the tribe on the 9th, the Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, and the Department of the Army (which oversees the Corps of Engineers) stepped in, halting construction of the pipeline around Lake Oahe, 20 miles (32 km) either side of the Lake, but not halting the project altogether.
On the weekend of December 2, 2016 approximately 2000 United States military veterans arrived in North Dakota in support of the activists. The veterans pledged to form a human shield to protect the protestors from police.
A number of planned arrests occurred when people locked themselves to heavy machinery. On September 3, 2016, the DAPL brought in a private security firm. The company used bulldozers to dig up part of the pipeline route that was subject to a pending injunction motion; it contained possible Native graves and burial artifacts. The bulldozers arrived within a day from when the tribe filed legal action. When unarmed protesters moved near the bulldozers, the guards used pepper spray and guard dogs to protect the site. At least six protesters were treated for dog bites, and an estimated 30 protesters were pepper-sprayed before the security guards and their dogs exited the scene in trucks.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop building the pipeline. In April 2016, three federal agencies — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Interior, and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—requested a full Environmental Impact Statement of the pipeline. In August 2016, protests were held near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
Shortly thereafter, on September 7, 2016, After the federal court denied the tribe’s request for an injunction, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation gave the order to halt the construction of the pipeline until further environmental assessments have taken place. There is no evidence of what role President Obama himself may or may not have played in this decision.
Numerous pipelines have been constructed in the Dakotas, including under waterways. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a project to be built through four states, was rerouted near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation after a route near the state capital Bismarck was judged too risky for water supplies. The tribe opposed the pipeline to be constructed under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River.
On April 1, 2016, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, an elder member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and her grandchildren established the Sacred Stone Camp to protest the DAPL, which they said threatens the upper Missouri River, the only water supply for the Standing Rock Reservation. The camp is on Allard’s private land, and is a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the DAPL.
Protests at the pipeline site in North Dakota began in the spring of 2016 and drew indigenous people from throughout North America, as well as many other supporters. It has been the largest gathering of Native Tribes in the past 100 years.A number of planned arrests occurred when people locked themselves to heavy machinery in civil disobedience. Facebook has been criticized for assisting the local authorities in censoring the protesters.