With the election furor drowning out most other stories, the struggle to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has fallen from the public view. However, the situation there is escalating as the controversial project is nearing the completion of the pipeline’s North Dakota segment. The main section that has yet to be completed is the most controversial of all – the crossing of the Missouri river. The pipeline’s river crossing is the aspect of the project that the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are most concerned about as it presents the greatest threat to their water supply and the surrounding environment. The river crossing is also a contentious issue as the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, lack the necessary permit to bore under the river, meaning that this phase of the pipeline’s construction will be illegal unless a permit is acquired. However, the company and its partners have said that they expect to receive the permit in short order, though doubts have been raised as to whether the company will wait for the permit to advance the project.
Protestors have been planning and executing acts of resistance against the pipeline as its construction nears its final phase. On Sunday, protestors opposing the pipeline held three separate actions, including one in an area known as Turtle Island. Turtle Island is claimed by both the Standing Rock Sioux and the US Army Corps of Engineers. However, an 1868 treaty claims that this piece of land, as well as much of the land surrounding the pipeline’s construction, is territory unceded by the Sioux to the federal government, weakening the Army Corps of Engineers’ claim that it belongs to them. Unfortunately, the US government has failed to consistently to honor the numerous treaties it signed with indigenous communities with the Sioux just being one more example of the federal government’s hypocrisy.
Protestors sought to reclaim Turtle Island by canoeing across a creek, with about 200 people eventually amassing on the island’s beach head. SWAT officers soon appeared and threw tear gas canisters into the crowd, though protestors wearing protective gear were able to neutralize them by covering them in mud. They began to advance up the edge of a hill on the island, with law enforcement continuing to throw more tear gas into the crowd. Soon after, a man appeared claiming to speak on behalf of the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux David Archambault II, saying that negotiations had led to a 30 day pause in the pipeline’s construction. This led the crowd to eventually disperse. However, the Army Corps of Engineers later stated that the pause was “only a proposal” and there continues to be no confirmation if the 30 day “buffer period” will go into effect. With construction nearing it’s final phase in North Dakota, now is the time to support the people opposing the Dakota Access pipeline.
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