Update on DAPL Protests

Joe Mack, Staff Writer

In recent weeks, it’s clear that the development of the Dakota Access pipeline has been one of the most heavily debated controversies in all of 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux’s protest against the billion dollar pipeline has brought many issues to the forefront, concerning both the protection of the environment as well as the rights of Native Americans in the 21st century. The debate also makes my personal list of hot topics discussed this year, which also includes the Flint water crisis, Black Lives Matter Movement, Wiki Leaks, and everything concerning this past election cycle.

In January of 2016, Dakota Access first announced that they were permitted to create a 1200 mile-long pipeline spanning from North Dakota to Illinois, and that construction was projected to conclude by the end of the year. Everyday, the pipeline would transport over 470,000 barrels of crude oil to different refineries, which was said to be much more safe and cost effective than transportation by rail or truck. Another major benefit of the pipeline was job creation through construction as well as employment to maintain the pipeline (for repairs, managers, etc).

Although there are plenty advantages of the pipeline, there are also plenty of faults. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has protested since July about the encroachment of the pipeline on their Native land. They have claimed that the pipeline runs through some of their sacred burial sites, and they have also voiced their concerns about pipeline leakage into the local river (which is the water supply that they rely on to survive). As their protests against the pipeline gained more and more momentum, different groups of people began to flock to Standing Rock in order to aid the tribe.

Thousands of people have now been to North Dakota in order protest, and over 400 have been arrested. Protesters have been accused of rioting, trespassing on private property, as well as deliberately seeking to stop construction of the pipeline. Conversely, protestors have accused the police of ignoring their civil rights, as many protesters have been hospitalized through the use of rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and high powered water hoses that have induced hypothermia in the cold northern climates.

The latest news concerning the matter is that the Army Corps of Engineers has halted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the company looks for alternate routes around the Tribe’s land. This news has been perceived as a large victory for the protestors and everyone else against the pipeline. As for myself, I’m just happy that this episode won’t go down as another instance in American History where the country has ignored the rights of the Natives, and usurped their rightful land