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Violence Erupts Over Pipeline Crisis in the Plains

Krislyn Cardoza

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Various Native American tribes and supporters from across the nation assemble together to protest the DAPL. A major site of protest was at a sacred burial site in North Dakota in September of 2016 to impede further construction of the pipeline.

Since the spring of 2016, the Great Plains has become home to violence and protest as the conflict between the Native American tribes and the U.S. Government continues to intensify over the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The 3.7 billion dollar project calls for the assembly of a 1,172 mile pipeline, stretching from the oil rich Bakken Formation in North Dakota into South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, in an attempt to transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day and revolutionize the country’s oil market.

“In addition to pumping around 156 million dollars into local economies and creating 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs, the pipeline would also help free up railways to transport crops and other commodities currently constrained by crude oil cargos” Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, declared as he defended the building of the pipeline.

While the large oil corporations and U.S. Government insist that the pipeline would yield immense economic gains, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes vocalizes their worries and frustrations over the potential environmental and cultural consequences.

“The Missouri River is the source of water for the reservation’s 8,000 residents. Any leak, would cause immediate and irreparable harm” Frank White Bull, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, argues in opposition of the project.

Although the pipe does not directly cross into the reservation, the tribe claims that the pipeline’s path obliterates sacred land that houses burial and archaeological sites.

“This pipeline is going through huge swaths of ancestral land. It would be like constructing a pipeline through Arlington Cemetery or under St. Patrick’s Cathedral” Dean DePountis, the tribe’s attorney, reasons to provide new perspective of the cultural importance land surrounding the reservation.

Conflict between the tribes and the national government have dated back centuries to the rapid westward expansion of the United States, when whole tribes of Indians were forced off of land they had occupied for centuries and relocated to reservations. In an attempt to make up for that forced relocation, laws have been passed over the past hundred years and negotiations have been made between the two groups.

“When the Army is considering any construction project, they must make a reasonable and good faith effort to identify Indian tribes that attach such significance but may now live at great distances from the undertaking’s area of potential effect” reads one of the tribal leaders from a 150 year old treaty made with the U.S. Government, as he argues that the treaty has been infringed upon by the construction company.

Many supporters have traveled out to the Dakota Reservation over the past few months to show their support for the indigenous people, believing that the oil conglomerate has violated the clause in the treaty that calls for Indian consultation, as stated above.

“Take back this illegitimate permit given by the Army Corps of Engineers” demanded Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, over a phone call with President Obama.

While the DAPL has certainly sparked and spurred tension and concern in the Dakota area, Indian tribes have turned together for strength and unity throughout the crisis in hopes for finding a peaceful resolution.

“We have maintained our culture. We’ve maintained our way of life. We’ve maintained our dignity. We’re still here” declares Dave Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council.

 

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Violence Erupts Over Pipeline Crisis in the Plains