Standing Rock Protesters Successfully Beat Back The Dakota Access Pipeline

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images

Army denies key permit for Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock protesters celebrate

The Army Corps of Engineers shocked the thousands of protesters at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation Sunday when they announced they would not grant a permit allowing the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline to finish a segment that passes under Lake Oahe, across sacred American Indian land. This effectively “halts production of the construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline about half a mile south of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” says NPR.

The protests at Standing Rock grew from Sacred Stone Camp, founded by LaDonna Brave Bull Allard in April, and burgeoned to a revolving door of thousands of protesters, becoming the largest Native American gathering in 100 years.

According to Rolling Stone, the Army Corps of Engineers released this statement: “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for Civil Works said Sunday. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” said Tribal Chairman David Archambault II. “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.”

According to Slate, the pipeline would have carried up to 470,000 barrels a day within half a mile of Sioux land, and concerned tribal members worried it could pollute drinking water and “disturb sacred sites.” Two possible burial sites of Sitting Bull are located alongside Lake Oahe, The New York Times reports, along with innumerable other burial sites and other sacred areas. Construction crews destroyed “sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said in September.

The peaceful protests have been marked by police brutality, including the use of biting dogs and water hoses in sub-zero temperatures. Hundreds were “violently arrested, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed.” Police also used rubber bullets and LRAD’s, “a loud piercing noise that can disable people’s hearing permanently.” It’s been so brutal, and so well-documented, that in the past week, 2000 veterans showed up determined to “defend the demonstrators” from police and from DAPL security.

RawStory reports spontaneous celebrations “in the protest camps and on the Sioux Reservation” at news of the pipeline easement.

But while some celebrated, others urged caution. According to The Guardian, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the tribe, said, “They [Energy Transfer Partners] can sue, and Trump can try to overturn.”

“It’s a trick. It’s a lie. Until that drill is shut down it’s not over yet,” said tribal member Frank Archambault. “We’ve been lied to and deceived this whole time,” he said. “Why should this time be any different?”