Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Haylie Kinzey:

There is currently a fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from being directed underneath Lake Oahe. Casualties have occurred throughout the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, due to the construction of the pipeline. Though the pipeline does not pass directly through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, it affects them because to the Sioux and Native Americans in general, water is life. The United States Army Corps of Engineers have completely washed away sacred lands. Water is the source of life for the Standing Rock Sioux and the controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline gave them the chance to defend themselves and try and save their water.

To understand the controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline, it is necessary to initially identify the objective of the pipeline. The objective is to safely transport crude oil from wells to consumers. North Dakota is the origin of the pipeline. From North Dakota, the pipeline runs through South Dakota, Iowa, and eventually ends in Illinois. It is considered the safest and environmentally friendly way to access the oil (“Dakota Access Pipeline Facts”). Today, oil producing volumes are high and the pipeline is going to make production easier. It is stated: “The Dakota Access Pipeline does not endanger water; the Standing Rock Sioux water inlet by early 2017 will be moved to a location more than 70 miles away from the pipeline (“Dakota Access Pipeline Facts”).”  It is not about the fact that it is going to move the source of the tribe’s water, but that the Sioux tribe should have the right to protect what is sacred to them, water.

There are many factors about the pipeline that have been ruled out. Supposedly, the pipeline is completely safe, but what happens in the case of a break or leak, especially under Lake Oahe (Ravitz).   Tribes across the nation have stories of their sacred waters being threatened. Oahe is a lake that has a dam that controls the water to rivers. In North Dakota, the Missouri River and the Cannonball River receive their water from Lake Oahe (Ravitz). Water is life for tribes such as the Standing Rock Sioux. Coming to aid them in their protests was Faith Spotted Eagle, from the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota. Faith has traveled from camp to camp in protest of the pipeline and tells her story of water being medicine and the power it has to contain memories. Water not only gives life, it is life (Ravitz).

Protests have taken place to slow the production of the pipeline. “A coalition of Native American groups, environmentalists, Hollywood stars and veterans of the U.S. armed forces protested the $3.8 billion oil project. They said construction would damage sacred lands and any leaks could pollute the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe (Scheyder).” In December, a tribal chief asked all the protesters to stand down and return home (Scheyder). Again,’ in February, efforts were made to clear the camps of the protesters. “Water protectors at Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock in North Dakota have been informed that they must vacate the camp by 12pm today February 22nd, 2017 or they will be arrested (Wells).” For protesters, they thought they were making a difference. Unfortunately, ninety percent of the pipeline has already been laid in the ground and completed (Conversation). After these warnings were given many of the members of the protests left voluntarily, but some were arrested. Once the protesters cleared out it was open to continue construction. The pipeline got postponed for a short time, but now it is complete and ready for operation (Hunn).

It is hoped that someday that the hurts will be mended and the Dakota Access Pipeline will prove to be an asset rather than a controversy. The Standing Rock Sioux and tribes that came to their aid need to be commended for standing firm in their beliefs that water is the source of life. Hopefully, the workings of the pipeline will withstand over time and the fears of the tribes will disappear. Water is the source of life; therefore, it is worth fighting for.


Works Cited

Conversation, The. “Why Sacred Sites Were Destroyed for the Dakota Access       Pipeline.”EcoWatch. EcoWatch, 26 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.

“Dakota Access Pipeline Facts.” Dakota Access Pipeline Facts. DAPL, 2016. Web.  23 March.    2017.

Hunn, David. “Dakota Access Pipeline Complete, Readying for Operations.” Fuel Fix. N.p., 04    Apr. 2017. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.

Ravitz, Story By Jessica. “The Sacred Land at the Center of the Dakota Pipeline Fight.” CNN.     Cable News Network, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.

Scheyder, Ernest, and Terray Sylvester. “Sioux Chief Asks Protesters to Disband, Trump to          Review Pipeline Decision.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 06 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 Apr.             2017.

Wells, Jane. “February 22nd — All Eyes On Standing Rock.” The Huffington Post.  , 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.


About the author: Brian King

Brian D. King lives in Oklahoma and is a writer and blogger who studies and teaches English. He earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, and he is currently working on his graduate degree in English in Oklahoma.

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