Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Ends In Victory For Native Americans

After several months of continuous demonstration, a directive from the White house last night instructed the discontinuation of the Dakota Access pipeline construction.

OCETI SAKOWIN CAMPGROUND, N.D ― The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their supporters celebrated a historic victory Sunday after federal authorities halted construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, according to the Huffington Post.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it had denied the final easement required for the $3.8 billion project to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The Army said it will now explore alternative routes pending an environmental impact study.

The 1,172-mile pipeline starts at the Bakken Formation in northwest North Dakota near the Canadian border and runs southeast to southern Illinois.

The Standing Rock Sioux, which had been joined in a months-long protest by environmental, human rights and social justice activists, opposed the Dakota Access pipeline due to concerns over water contamination, environmental destruction and damage to ancestral sites.

“My hands go up to all the water protectors who have stood up to protect tribal treaty rights and to protect Mother Earth,” Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a statement Sunday.Thank you for Standing For Standing Rock.”

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters celebrate as they march back to the Oceti Sakowin campground after they found out the Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement to drill under Lake Oahe on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, the army announced on Sunday, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe after a months-long campaign against the pipeline, The Guardian reports.

Assistant secretary for civil works Jo-Ellen Darcy announced the decision on Sunday, with the army saying it was based on “a need to explore alternate routes” for the crossing.

Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said in a statement. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The army corps will undertake an environmental impact statement and look for alternative routes, the tribe said in its own announcement.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement.

While the news is a victory, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the tribe, cautioned that the decision could be appealed.

They [Energy Transfer Partners] can sue, and Trump can try to overturn,” Hasselman said. “But overturning it would be subject to close scrutiny by a reviewing court, and we will be watching the new administration closely.”

We hope that Kelcey Warren, Governor [Jack] Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point,” Archambault said.

The announcement came just one day before the corps’ deadline for thousands of Native American and environmental activists – who call themselves water protectors – to leave the sprawling encampment on the banks of the river. For months, they have protested over their fears that the pipeline would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites, and over the weekend hundreds of military veterans arrived at the camps in a show of support for the movement.

As word spread in the main camp, protesters broke out in jubilant celebrations, and with nightfall a few fireworks burst above the tents and campfires.

I just cried when I heard the news,” said Sylvia Picotte, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe who travelled to Standing Rock every weekend since August. “We have been stepped on for so long, all I could do was hope.”

Many gathered around the central fire to sing and cheer, while others marched through camp carrying mirrored shields above their head.

The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, had said it was unwilling to reroute the project. It and the Morton County Sheriff’s Office, which has done much of the policing of the protests, didn’t have immediate comment, the Telegraph states.

US Secretary for the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement that the Corps’ “thoughtful approach … ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts” and “underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”

The federal government has ordered people to leave the main encampment, which is on Army Corps of Engineers’ land, by Monday. But demonstrators say they’re prepared to stay, and authorities say they won’t forcibly remove them.

About 250 veterans gathered about a mile from the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, camp in southern North Dakota for a meeting with organizer Wes Clark Jr., the son of former Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark. The group had said about 2,000 veterans were coming, but it wasn’t clear how many actually arrived.

We have been asked by the elders not to do direct action,” Wes Clark Jr. said. He then talked about North Dakota authorities’ decision to move away from a key bridge north of the encampment by 4 p.m. Sunday if demonstrators agree to certain conditions, saying the National Guard and law enforcement have armored vehicles and are armed.

Great news indeed! This is a typical illustration of how much we can achieve if we continuously and relentlessly seek justice and equality as a united front. We us Black people are excited over this victory; it is a victory for human dignity.

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