Dakota Wipeout Line. Dakota Access Pipeline harms environment, Native American civil rights


Lin Lin Mo, Reporter

Last year, I joined the fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline; I wrote letters to the senators and signed online petitions, as well as donated to environmental groups. The pipeline would have run through Canada and the United States, but the Obama administration ultimately voted to forbid its construction on Nov. 6, 2015. After five arduous years of congressional debates that have occurred across the country, I still witness my voice being heard by the president. Today, I felt like I made a difference.

Today, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a similar story that warrants another deserving termination. According to its official website, daplpipelinefacts.com, “Dakota Access, LLC…is developing a new pipeline to transport crude oil from the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota to a terminus in Illinois with additional potential points of destination along the pipeline route.” In English, the corporation planned to make a crude oil pipeline—currently stalled and worth $3.8 billion—from northwest North Dakota to around the small town of Patoka, Ill. through South Dakota and Iowa. Forty-seven thousand to 570,000 barrels of oil are predicted to be transported per day. These are the huge, glossy numbers and vague location names that Dakota Access allows on the website. However, these facts are just the velvet curtains that try and fail to hide the ugly, true nature of this project. There is one main implication of the pipeline that makes this case come out from behind the curtains: the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The Standing Rock Sioux is a part of the Great Sioux Nation, and their land in North Dakota has been secured since 1851 with the Fort Laramie Treaty. To protect their sacred grounds, traditional ways of life, and only drinking water source–the Missouri River–the tribespeople have staged peaceful protests surrounding the stalled construction around Lake Oahe resulting from a hard-won appeal against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) who has jurisdiction over the reservation. The unbelievable news is local law enforcement and private security for Dakota Access, LLC have injured protesters and jailed others.dakota-pipeline-graphic

It is scheduled to go under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River upstream from the reservation’s boundary. “Our Sundance, a spiritual ceremony sacred to us, is performed on the banks of the river. The source of life, as well as spiritual continuity, would be damaged (if the pipeline breaks),” said David Archambault II, chairman of the tribe, on the Greenpeace website. Along with the life-threatening potential of the pipeline breaking and contaminating the tribe’s freshwater source, its route also goes through sacred ancestral lands, including burial grounds. According to the lawsuit, this violates the numerous acts. It would endaher Native American tribes that depend on the land for resources and cultural bonds.

The Standing Rock Sioux isn’t alone in this fight. 100 tribes across the nation, Greenpeace and ordinary people all around the world stand side by side with them at the reservation and in court. On Oct. 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit heard a second plea for the reservation’s protection. Judges Janice Brown, Thomas Griffith and Cornelia Pillard have not filed a judgement as of the date of this Hilite issue, so you can still make a vocal support for the tribe through letters and phone calls to Sen. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats, as well as through the numerous online petitions already well underway.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Lin-Lin Mo at [email protected]