Despite the delay of two court decisions on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp and supporters from more than 60 tribal nations continue to occupy and oppose the completion of the project.
Several important decisions were brought before judicial and local authorities in relation to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and resistance from indigenous communities, environmentalists, and other allies. On Thursday August 19, after two weeks of protests and arrests at the site of construction, local law enforcement announced that the pipeline would be temporarily put on hold. Despite the temporary halting of activity near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, construction on the Dakota Access pipeline continues elsewhere.
The DAPL, alternatively known as the Bakken Pipeline, is owned by Dallas, Texas based corporation Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., which created the subsidiary Dakota Access LLC. The pipeline will stretch 1,172 miles upon completion and transport crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project is set to cross the Missouri River not far from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C. decided to delay a decision on whether or not to issue an injunction that would further halt construction on the pipeline. The Bismarck Tribune reported that Boasberg told the court he needed more time to look at the issues at hand. While supporters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation held prayer and ceremony to prepare for the courts decision, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the D.C. court.
The Standing Rock Sioux claim that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act by not properly consulting them before approving the project. Earthjustice is representing the tribe in their lawsuit against the Corps of Engineers. “The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the tribe,” the lawsuit states. Judge Boasberg said he will make a decision by September 9, with an appeal hearing possible on September 14.
In response to the protesters concerns, Dakota Access LLC has said the pipeline would include safety measures such as “leak detection equipment, and workers monitoring the pipeline remotely in Texas could close block valves on it within three minutes if a breach is detected.”
North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, says the Standing Rock Sioux were in fact consulted before construction began. “If the tribe doesn’t feel that that has been sufficient, again, they can protest as long as they do it peacefully and safely, but ultimately their recourse is to the courts,” Hoeven told KFYR.
“When we were made aware of the project, we informed them that, by law, as a requirement, that the tribes consult government to government on this matter. They are going to claim that correspondence is consultation. The correspondence is about our disagreement, that’s not consultation,” says Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman.
KFYR also reported that the Public Service Commission said there were at least three public hearings in 2015 before approval for the pipeline was granted. Some protesters and local opponents of the pipeline say there were not aware of the hearings.
Over the last two weeks protesters have been arrested while attempting to block construction of the pipeline. The protesters have come from all around the country in support of the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, which formed in response to the Army Corps of Engineers granting approval permits for construction. More than 65 tribal nations have signed on to support the camp by either sending reinforcements, supplies, or both. The coming together of such a large number of tribes, many who have been enemies in the past, is a historic event in itself.
In response to the growing protests North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency declaration for southwest and south central North Dakota. The protesters, or protectors as they refer to themselves, are concerned that the pipeline will inevitably have accidental spills which will poison the local water supply.
Energy Transfer Partners recently filed their own lawsuit against the protesters, alleging that the protests have put pipeline employees at risk. As The Bismarck Tribune reported, “Dakota Access LLC, a partner of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, countered the Standing Rock lawsuit earlier this week by filing a lawsuit against several protesters, alleging threats to the safety of construction workers and law enforcement.”
Early last week. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland delayed a hearing which would have decided whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the protesters. Energy Transfer Partners successfully sought a restraining order against protesters after clashes between local police and supporters caused a delay in the construction of the pipeline. The Tribune noted:
A hearing was scheduled Thursday to determine whether a preliminary injunction should be issued against the protesters, but judge Daniel J. Hovland delayed it until Sept. 8, extending the restraining order he had granted Aug. 16.
“The parties are strongly encouraged to meet and confer in good faith in an attempt to resolve this dispute prior to the hearing,” the judge wrote in the ruling.
On Thursday, the Iowa Utilities Board also made a crucial decision in the pipeline resistance. The board stated that construction of the pipeline can continue despite complaints from local landowners who will be affected by the Iowa portions of the project. Iowa landowners have filed suit challenging the board’s authority to allow eminent domain for the pipeline project. Ultimately, the Utilities Board said the landowners will likely lose their lawsuit and that delaying the project would cause financial harm to Energy Transfer Partners.
Separating Lies From Truth
Since the beginning of the resistance to the pipeline, the deadstream media (formerly known as the mainstream) has either ignored the peaceful protests, or attempted to paint the protectors as violent. Allegations have been made about the presence of pipe bombs and other weapons. The allegations have not been confirmed and have been adamantly denied by the Sacred Stone Camp. During my stay at Sacred Stone I saw no weapons of any kind, instead I saw several signs warning visitors that the camps were weapon and drug free. The camps were filled with prayers and ceremonies on a daily basis and an emphasis on unity and non-violence.
Regardless, the local authorities have used these reports of violence and weapons to justify installing a checkpoint near the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp. Jennifer Cook, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, told the Tribune that forcing protesters to drive an extra 15 miles to reach the camp violates their First Amendment rights.
“What we are seeing is the state and specifically the governor spinning a false narrative that only creates resentment and potential danger for all parties,” Dallas Goldtooth an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network told the Tribune. (In the video above I spoke with Goldtooth about the purpose of the protests.)
Try as they might, the media cannot erase the image of peaceful prayers and historic unity. One last point of contention is with the deadstream and the alternative/independent media.
Earlier in the week it was reported that North Dakota’s Homeland Security division was cutting off water supplies to the camps, a move which was greeted with disdain and disapproval by many observers. Homeland Security Division Director Greg Wilz said he would remove two water tanks and trailers because they were at risk of damage from protesters.
This decision was reported by some as the loss of “the main drinking water supply” and as a devastating act against the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp. Without a doubt the Governor’s decision to declare a state of emergency and the removal of water tanks is another move in the game of chess between the protectors and the State, but the camp is completely capable of taking care of its own. While it is true that Johnelle Leingang, executive secretary to Standing Rock Sioux Nation Chairman Dave Archambault II, was quoted as saying that the decision was “hurtful” and protesters were at risk of over heating, the camp was in no way dependent on the trailers or the water tanks. After all, the water tanks are owned by the government of North Dakota and why would you want to be dependent on your enemy? Whatever your thoughts on the decision to pull the water tanks, I saw the camps with plenty of water and supplies, with more coming in by the truckload on a daily basis.
The movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline has mass support and is in this fight for the long haul. The fight has also helped unite tribal nations and Americans of European origin in a larger battle against the violations of liberties perpetuated by the U.S. government. It’s time to put aside petty differences and begin uniting our disparate movements into a larger coalition of interests and common ground. Only as a people united in defense of liberty and all life can we achieve true lasting change.
For more information on recent events, please see this recent statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact [email protected]
This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.