Standing Rock: US denies key permit for Dakota Access pipeline, in win for tribe – Julia Carrie Wong in Cannon Ball, North Dakota Monday 5 December 2016 02.27 EST


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 The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, the army announced on Sunday, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after a months-long campaign against the pipeline.

Assistant secretary for civil works Jo-Ellen Darcy announced the decision on Sunday, with the army saying it was based on “a need to explore alternate routes” for the crossing.

“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,” Darcy said in a statement. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The army corps will undertake an environmental impact statement and look for alternative routes, the tribe said in its own announcement.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement.

While the news is a victory, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the tribe, cautioned that the decision could be appealed.

“They [Energy Transfer Partners] can sue, and Trump can try to overturn,” Hasselman said. “But overturning it would be subject to close scrutiny by a reviewing court, and we will be watching the new administration closely.”

“We hope that Kelcey Warren, Governor [Jack] Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point,” Archambault said.

The announcement came just one day before the corps’ deadline for thousands of Native American and environmental activists – who call themselves water protectors – to leave the sprawling encampment on the banks of the river. For months, they have protested over their fears that the pipeline would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites, and over the weekend hundreds of military veterans arrived at the camps in a show of support for the movement.

As word spread in the main camp, protesters broke out in jubilant celebrations, and with nightfall a few fireworks burst above the tents and campfires.

“I just cried when I heard the news,” said Sylvia Picotte, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who travelled to Standing Rock every weekend since August. “We have been stepped on for so long, all I could do was hope.”

Many gathered around the central fire to sing and cheer, while others marched through camp carrying mirrored shields above their head.

“It’s the silver water serpent coming from the air to beat the black snake,” said Jake Damon, a member of the Navajo Nation from Albuquerque, New Mexico, referring to a prophecy of a black snake that many have interpreted to mean the pipeline.

“This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the unity of the tribes.”

Alice Brown Otter, a 13-year-old from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said that she was one of the Native Youth who ran from Cannon Ball to Washington DC to draw attention to the protests. “A lot of people didn’t believe in us that we were going to change the world, us 13-year-olds and 15-year-olds,” she said.

But others voiced caution, noting the incoming Republican president and hints that the energy company will appeal the decision. “It’s a trick. It’s a lie. Until that drill is shut down it’s not over yet,” said Frank Archambault, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who moved his entire family to the encampments in August. “Everybody needs to stay in place.”

“We’ve been lied to and deceived this whole time,” he said. “Why should this time be any different?”

“We know DAPL can appeal,” said Danny Grassrope, a member of the Lower Bruce Sioux Tribe. “This battle is won but the war isn’t over.”

Grassrope added that the tribes would not give up either. “We’re not done yet. This is just the beginning of something extraordinary.”

Alice Brown Otter
Alice Brown Otter Photograph: Julia Carrie Wong

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the 1,720-mile pipeline, has nearly completed the project. But the decision to move the pipeline’s path south from Bismarck, North Dakota, through a route less than a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation provoked protests and the army corps review that have so far thwarted it.

In April, members of the tribe established the first “spiritual camp” on the banks of the Missouri river. Members of hundreds of other indigenous tribes answered their call to join in the struggle, resulting in the largest gathering of Native American tribes in more than a century.

The tribe’s decision to fight back against the powerful oil industry captured the attention of environmental activists and celebrities, as well. Thousands have travelled to the encampments, and over the weekend a contingent of veterans began arriving to serve as a “human shield” for the protesters, who have been subjected to rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas from local law enforcement.

On Sunday, congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined the veterans at Standing Rock, where they planned to hold a prayer ceremony at the main encampment. “Unless we protect our water, there is no economy,” she said, arguing against what she called a “false narrative” that a rerouted pipeline is bad for the economy.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell praised the army’s decision, saying it “underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as nation-to-nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components” of discussions in infrastructure projects.

In a statement, Dalrymple said that the army’s decision did not resolve the pipeline question, and that it would prolong challenges for law enforcement officers in a standoff with protests. Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the Main Coalition, said the group of energy industry interests remains “hopeful that this is not the final word on the Dakota Access Pipeline”.

Attorney general Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department would continue to monitor and mediate between protests and police, who had fired rubber bullets and pepper spray in past clashes.

The Standing Rock Resistance Is Unprecedented (It’s Also Centuries Old) – LEAH DONNELLA November 22, 2016 11:18 AM ET


Tonya Stands recovers from being pepper sprayed by police after swimming across a creek with other protesters hoping to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, near Cannon Ball, N.D., on November 2.| John L. Mone/AP

Tonya Stands recovers from being pepper sprayed by police after swimming across a creek with other protesters hoping to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, near Cannon Ball, N.D., on November 2.|
John L. Mone/AP

As resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, N.D., concludes its seventh month, two narratives have emerged:

  1. We have never seen anything like this before.
  2. This has been happening for hundreds of years.

Both are true. The scope of the resistance at Standing Rock exceeds just about every protest in Native American history. But that history itself, of indigenous people fighting to protect not just their land, but the land, is centuries old.

Over the weekend, the situation at Standing Rock grew more contentious. On Sunday night, Morton County police sprayed the crowd of about 400 people with tear gas and water as temperatures dipped below freezing.

But the resistance, an offspring of history, continues.

Through the years, details of such protests change — sometimes the foe is the U.S. government; sometimes a large corporation; sometimes, as in the case of the pipeline, a combination of the two. Still, the broad strokes of each land infringement and each resistance stay essentially the same.

In that tradition, the tribes gathered at Standing Rock today are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline operator from bulldozing what they say are sacred sites to construct an 1,172-mile oil pipeline. The tribes also want to protect the Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation, from a potential pipeline leak. (Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the pipeline, says on its website that it emphasizes safety and that, “in many instances we exceed government safety standards to ensure a long-term, safe and reliable pipeline.”)

Since April, when citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation set up the Sacred Stone Camp, thousands of people have passed through and pledged support. Environmentalists and activist groups like Black Lives Matter and Code Pink have also stepped in as allies. Many people who have visited say that the camp is beyond anything they’ve ever experienced.

“It’s historic, really. I don’t think anything like this has ever happened in documented history,” said Ruth Hopkins, a reporter from Indian Country Today.

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Police, protesters face off at Dakota Access pipeline – By James MacPherson | AP November 21 at 1:42 AM


Law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office. (Morton County, N.D. Sheriff’s Department/Associated Press)

CANNON BALL, N.D. — Tension flared anew on the Dakota Access pipeline as protesters tried to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway, only to be turned back by a line of law enforcement using water cannon and what appeared to be tear gas.

Sunday’s skirmishes began around 6 p.m. after protesters removed a burned-out truck on what’s known as the Backwater Bridge, not far from the encampment where they’ve been for weeks as they demonstrate against the pipeline. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department estimated 400 protesters sought to cross the bridge on state Highway 1806.

A live stream early Monday showed a continued standoff, with large lights illuminating smoke wafting across the scene.

At least one person was arrested. Protesters said a gym in Cannon Ball was opened to aid demonstrators who were soaked on a night the temperature dipped into the low 20s or were hit with tear gas.

Rema Loeb told The Associated Press he was forced to retreat from the bridge because he feared being doused with water on the freezing night. Others, he said, needed medical treatment after being hit with tear gas.

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Army Halts Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline—for Now – WES ENZINNA NOV. 15, 2016 4:09 PM


Activists fear President Elect will side with the pipeline company he’s invested in.

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in front of the state Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota, on November 14 -Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP

On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not allow completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) until there has been additional research into its possible environmental risks. This marks a temporary victory for the activists who have been encamped near the site of pipeline construction next to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

Of particular concern is the pipeline’s proposed crossing under the Missouri River, which activists fear will threaten Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water supply. In a statement, Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy said that “in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands [and] the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe,” the Standing Rock Sioux tribe will be consulted to help develop a timetable for future construction plans.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, denounced the Corps’ decision “as unjust and a reinforcement of the [Obama] Administration’s lack of interest in enforcing and abiding by the law.”

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Showdown at Standing Rock – By Lauren Carasik November 9, 2016


How Obama Can Still Reroute the Pipeline

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In a bid to ease tensions over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, U.S. President Barack Obama announced on November 1 that the Army Corp of Engineers is considering alternate routes for 1,172-mile pipeline, which was designed to bring half a million gallons of crude from North Dakota’s Bakken fields across four states to Illinois. The pipeline’s path is set to cross the Missouri river within a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. In his statement, Obama attempted to defuse the standoff between the pipeline company and its opponents – the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its growing ranks of allies, saying “we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”

Obama’s recognition that the pipeline should be reconsidered is laudable, if long overdue. But rerouting the pipeline is no easy fix. Centuries of dispossession, colonization and annihilation have heightened the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s determination to protect its sovereignty. They believe that much of the land the pipeline traverses, was guaranteed to the Tribe by the Treaties of Fort Laramie of 1851 and 1868, and was wrongfully wrested away thereafter, markedly diminishing their territory. In other words, moving the pipeline a few miles further from the reservation boundaries but still within unceded Sioux treaty land will not resolve the conflict. Moreover, under the colonial legal paradigm, federal law ensures that Tribe’s have the right to meaningful consultation over projects that affect their ancestral lands, not merely those contained within their Reservations. International law requires the Tribe’s free, prior and informed consent to projects that affect them.  And even if a revised path circumvented treaty land altogether, the pipeline would still likely cross the Missouri River and imperil the Reservation’s drinking (and that of millions of others downstream) while further entrenching instead of easing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

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Dakota Access pipeline protesters see bias after Oregon militia verdict – Sam Levin Sunday 30 October 2016 10.42 EDT


Johanna Holy Elk Face couldn’t help but chuckle. The 63-year-old Native American was one of hundreds of activists gathered to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Thursday, when police with tanks and riot gear surrounded them and began making mass arrests

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The situation was sad and frightening, she said, but there was a fleeting moment of levity when one officer on the loudspeaker warned the demonstrators not to shoot “bows and arrows”.

“We all laughed,” Holy Elk Face said, noting that she wouldn’t even know how to use a toy bow and arrow.

For some Native American activists, the officer’s comment was the latest sign that a highly militarized police force has little understanding of indigenous culture and is set on treating the protesters like violent rioters, regardless of their tactics.

The notion that the criminal justice system is biased against Native American protesters came into sharp view hours later, when a jury in Portland, Oregon, issued a verdict of not guilty for white militia leaders who staged an armed occupation of federal land to protest government policies.

The fact that protesters with guns were acquitted on the same day police arrested 141 “water protectors”, who have often relied on indigenous songs and prayers to convey their message, sparked a firestorm on social media about white privilege and police brutality against people of color.

At the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota, where the fight against the $3.8bn oil pipeline is escalating dramatically, Native Americans said the Oregon verdict was an infuriating and painful reminder that the law treats them differently – and that the odds are stacked against them in their high-stakes battle to save their land.

‘If native people were armed’

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