After months of pacific resistance by indigenous tribes from North America and the rest of the Americas, the government finally took the decision to halt the project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline. This project that seeks to transport 500K barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois have not been granted the easement it was seeking. Instead they suppose to complete an environmental assessment and possible find new routes for the pipeline if approved.
One of the main sources of conflict concerning the debated route was that it puts at risk the water of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. The protestors those called themselves the water protectors. The Standing Rock Tribe reservation is located very near the proposed route thus the tribe was at the center of this cause. The project if approved as it was original stated, would have crossed near/over several sources of water including a portion of the Mississippi river and Lake Oahe. In addition, if a spill were to occur the soil may also be compromised.
Over the pass months Indigenous peoples have also argued for religious rights. The Standing Rock tribe said that the land where the proposed project would pass over sacred land. Their ancestors had been buried in that land which is now under the Corps of Engineers management. They called for the respect of ancient treaties that give them some cultural and religious protection.
The protestors or water protectors directed by the Standing Rock tribe included many Indian Nations, foreign indigenous peoples and outside supporters. The protestors opted for non-violent means of protest and prayer. Even though the protest were meant to be pacific in nature that was not the case. Because of violence exerted against the protestors by the Access Pipeline guards and the North Dakota Police (water canyons), outside observers (e.g., Amnesty International), and news reporters came to report on the protests.
The North Dakota Pipeline Access received protestors that tried to access their facilities with dogs that attacked them. This treatment was covered by Democracy Now an independent news source and because of the impact, it was also published in the general media. The violence against the indigenous peoples seen in the media helped the initial small movement to gather more visibility and adepts. The Dakota government try to indict journalist Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, and protestors which further aggravate the tensions. Later on the North Dakota police also attacked protestor with water hoses and intimidated them with rifles. These developments called for more support and for the public to request the intervention of the Department of Justice.
Environmentalist and concerned citizens from other places travel to the site to support the Indigenous people and to learn about the issue. In addition to the site protest in North Dakota famously known as NoDALP, citizens gathered in many US cities to protest both the treatment to the indigenous peoples exerted by the Dakota Police as well as the environmental implications of an oil pipeline.
While The Standing Rock Tribe leaders met with Obama early on (Oct 25th, 2016), it wasn't until today (Dec 4th, 2016) that the President of the United States Mr. Barak Obama, The Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Justice --reached the decision to halt the project, and informed the protestors. Then Standing Rock Tribe published the news.
The Indigenous people rejoiced and were thankful to the president and the Army Corps for doing the right thing. It is not everyday that one sees this type of development in a conflict of this magnitude. This gives us hope that negotiations and pacific solutions are possible. This give us hopes that the rules and regulations that suppose to protect the people indeed may favor them rather than corporations.
Since, a new presidential administration is about to take place next month, the corporate side hopes for a new decision that favors them while the indigenous people expect for the decision taken today to be respected. This is still an open book.
December 4th. Environmental News highlight.
Disclosure: I have been advocating in favor of an environmental assessment, and in favor of #noDALP.