By now, most people have heard of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protesters that are working hard to prevent it from happening. These protestors have been radicalized or ignored by mainstream media, but in and of themselves they are an impressive group of people.
The protesters are based at the Oceti Sakowin Camp. This camp in itself is momentous in that it is a “first of its kind historic gathering of Indigenous Nations.” An assembly of this magnitude has not been seen since the Great Sioux Nation before the Battle at the Little Big Horn. The camp is a place where the leaders can meet to provide a peaceful and unified front sending a message of protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They are entirely off-grid and rely on solar and wind power.
The Dakota and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are the permanent residents of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. These people have lived throughout the Dakotas as well as Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska before receiving land in the Dakotas for their reservation.
Since July, when they learned of the project, the tribes have opposed the creation of the pipeline less than a mile from the border with their land. Significant parts of the route have religious as well as cultural significance to the tribes. This includes burial sites and other sacred locations that the pipeline and its construction jeopardize.
The tribes are united and strong in their protests because it is imperative to protect their lands as well as their water. Additionally, federal law requires consultation with the Tribes before final approval of these plans, which did not happen. The pipeline had two possible routes of construction, one near North Dakota’s capital city, Bismarck, and one near the border to the reservation. The route near Bismarck was rejected because of its potential to jeopardize the drinking water for its residents. The project designers seem to have no problem asking the Native Americans to take this risk, though.
The leaders of the tribes have attempted to meet with officials in Washington and have met with little success. All protests have been peaceful. To support the protestors at Standing Rock, there are instructions on their website. They are in need of supplies as the temperature drops as well as support from other U.S. citizens to show we do not want the pipeline to put them in jeopardy.