If you happen to own social media, you might have come across the hashtag NoDAPL. At that point, you either did one of two things- you clicked on the hashtag, to see what “DAPL” happened to be, or you kept scrolling, as it is so easy to do. Regardless, there’s a large chance you aren’t quite clear on what the big fuss is about.
For those who don’t know- DAPL stands for Dakota Access Pipeline, also called the Bakken Oil Pipeline. The pipeline has not yet been built, but it’s meant to be 1,172 miles long, and the projected cost of it would be 3.7 billion dollars. The Energy Transfer Project, the main backer of this pipeline, claims that the pipeline will offer jobs and economic relief to a struggling region. But at what cost? And is the trade-off worth it?
Early proposals of the DAPL show that it was originally meant to run through Bismarck, a predominantly white working class area in North Dakota. But upon inspection, the US Army Corps discerned that running the pipeline through that land would pose a potential threat to the water supply. So it was rerouted to run through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and pass Lake Oahe.
There has been a lot of uproar about this decision, for various reasons. Lake Oahe holds great importance for the Sioux tribe. In addition to being their main source of water, it’s also one of their sacred burial grounds. If the pipeline were to leak, and oil spilled into the lake, the water supply of the Sioux tribe would be drastically affected. While it can be argued that the pipeline isn’t likely to leak, the possibility of it alone is an imminent threat, and should be enough to elicit the reconsideration of where the pipeline will be routed.
On top of that, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is, in theory, protected land, thanks to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. This treaty established the borders of the Sioux Tribes’ land, determining which land belonged to the Sioux Tribe and could not be messed with by the US government. That land includes the ground that the DAPL would run through.
This means that if the pipeline were to be built, it’d be violating the treaty by infiltrating the land of the Sioux tribe.
For the aforementioned reasons, millions of people, many of them indigenous, have gathered at Standing Rock in order to nonviolently protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Unfortunately, they’ve been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon, despite, or perhaps in spite of, the subfreezing temperatures. Still, they have held their ground, maintaining their stance to protect the land of Standing Rock and its water supply, which is necessary to life. In fact, many of the protestors have taken to calling themselves Water Protectors, their mantra being “Water Is Life”.
They’ve been joined by veterans who have pledged to stand by the Native American peoples and act as human shields against the violent force of law enforcement. Those who are unable to travel out to Standing Rock have shown their support by virtually signing into the site on Facebook.
The result of these large scale protests? The Army Corps recently announced that they would deny the needed construction easement for the DAPL to cross Lake Oahe, and they’d be investigating alternative routes for the pipeline in the meanwhile.
So as of right now, the construction of the pipeline has been halted— but the protest continues on.