At this moment, people across the state and country are making history on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Members of the reservation, including college students, are leading a peaceful protest to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The issue has generated media attention and public support for the Lakota people. The Dakota Access Pipeline spells trouble for the culture and environment of Standing Rock. Speaking for fellow Lakota students and South Dakotans, the Army Corps of Engineers should revoke building privileges for the pipeline immediately.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL, will carry over 400,000 tons of crude oil from its extraction in North Dakota, stretching down to Illinois. Oil companies say the DAPL increases energy independence and is safer than rail transportation.
One major issue comes from its path underneath the Missouri River. Most of the Midwest receives its water from the Missouri River. Research consistently shows that virtually every oil pipeline that has been built inevitably leaks and causes significant damage to the environment and living organisms in the area. Any leakages would result in peril for Standing Rock sacred sites and drinking water.
Another issue is the government’s intentions for building the pipeline. Using a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, Dakota Access is building DAPL for profit alone at the cost of healthy drinking water and environment. The big oil company obviously benefits from the pipeline. The government also plans to see benefits as it utilizes local natural resources. In this case, these natural resources disturb tribal lands. The DAPL issue roots itself in a greater need for clean energy options to create a more sustainable future.
Other groups besides Standing Rock have found flaws in pipeline plans. Three dozen environmental groups wrote to President Obama, who visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2014 with Michelle Obama, saying the Corps approved the project using a fast-track process. The permit was inadequate given its size and the many sensitive areas it would cross.
The DAPL has brought thousands of people to Standing Rock. Even celebrities such as Shailene Woodley and Leonardo DiCaprio have addressed concern. Media platforms of all kinds have brought greater awareness to the environment and Indigenous people.
Over 90 Indigenous nations across the nation have also shown their support. This support far surpasses the number of people at the camp and original expectations for the protest. History depicts Native Americans surrendering under government authority, but the power of unity has found its way to the hearts and minds of Indigenous people to take action. The intentions are not of hatred, but of hope, resiliency and unity.
Never in recent times have the Indigenous nations come together and stand as one. Never has the future of the environment and world’s cultures faced more pressing and alarming issues. The DAPL has inspired all people to stand up for their traditions and beliefs. Now it’s time for the government to listen.