By Guinevere Cote
Edited By Allison Blair
STANDING ROCK. This Indian Reservation of North and South Dakota has been busy lately. As early as April of 2016, thousands of have people have gathered here together and pitched their tents in the hope to make a big change, going as far as strapping themselves to construction equipment and running a marathon as far as Washington, D.C. to bring awareness to a petition that would halt a controversial, and, in their eyes, harmful project: the Dakota Access Pipeline.
At the height of the project’s media coverage (most of which didn't occur until September), #NoDAPL was the widespread message that called attention to the pipeline’s progress and the citizens of the area’s attempt to stop it. The simple hashtag would eventually lead to an international and even global outpouring of protesters against the installation of the pipeline. The pipeline has been mostly completed as of late 2016, starting to run from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. However, it's the pipeline’s course through the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, along with Lake Oahe which lies near Standing Rock, that many see as an issue.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Sioux tribe leader at Standing Rock, established a camp in April that eventually grew to thousands of people known as Sacred Stone Camp. It is a place for people to come together on the basis that the pipeline could potentially pollute the region’s clean water access from the rivers and lake, as well as being a danger to ancient burial grounds of the area. Health organizations and administrations have found no threat or sources of error regarding the pipeline, and the Sioux tribe filed suit against the Corps of Engineers, an organization that provides outdoor recreational services and is involved with the pipeline, but this was denied and the pipeline moved on. None of these factors, however, stopped protesters from putting up a fight.
ReZpect Our Water, a group founded by many of the youth from the Standing Rock Reservation, took a petition from North Dakota to Washington, D.C. to stop the pipeline working its way to the reservation. On September 3rd, protesters entered a construction zone that had been bulldozing part of land established as sacred ground. Attack dogs were sent in, biting at least six people, which caught widespread attention on YouTube. The Sioux Tribe gathered a list of over 80 tribal governments in their support of Standing Rock, and since have had the backing of movements such as Black Lives Matter and political figures such as Senator Bernie Sanders. And many more have joined each and every day.
All of these actions made the movement for Standing Rock known as the largest gathering of Native Americans in a century. And their efforts were not to be in vain. As of December 4th, after months and months of protests, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have made the decision to look at the pipeline's path and rerouted it’s course; the pipeline will not cross under the Missouri River and Lake Oahe. The Obama Administration, which had originally supported the project, is taking alternate route options into consideration. However, there is the possibility that those at Standing Rock will have a short lived victory if the soon-to-be Trump Administration will not make the same call. Only time will tell what tomorrow means for the pipeline and the people of Standing Rock.