U.S. Courts allow desecration

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By Dylan King
Illustration by Robbie Shorts

The battle of wills continues for Native Americans and their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was approved by the federal government to begin construction in July. 

While corporate juggernauts believe that the benefits of building the pipeline will outweigh the costs, I feel inclined to disagree with the premise of oil being transported through states that rely on agriculture as an important commodity for its inhabitants.

The $3.8 billion project expected to transport crude oil from North to South Dakota into Illinois has caused an uproar in the Native American community, particularly with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who inhabit the reservation on the border of the Dakotas.

Constructing a 1,172-mile pipeline along the Missouri River is a cause for concern for natives and environmental activists alike, according to Margaret Two Shields, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The pipeline has caused a spiritual awakening of the indigenous people who oppose its existence, but it seems little can be done to modify the current position of a government intent on staying the course.

A motion filed Sept. 4 to halt construction on the pipeline, which started the same day, was granted by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg Sept. 6 due to concerns that certain areas along the construction route could possibly contaminate the drinking water and ruin land that has historical significance to the tribes.

Though the emergency motion could be seen as a small victory for the Standing Sioux, Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II expressed his disappointment with the temporary ruling.

“I know more of our sacred sites are going to be destroyed,” Archambault said in an interview with Prairie Public Broadcasting Sept. 7. “I’m okay with the fact that we know there’s not going to be any construction near the camp on the east side of Highway 1806. I’m not happy with the ruling, however, because there’s a lot of land being destroyed.”

The commotion surrounding this event has caused Native American tribes nationwide to camp near the construction site in North Dakota, and tensions boiled over between protesters and workers while awaiting judgment from the court.

Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also sided with the protesters, calling on President Obama to take action against developers of the pipeline during a protest with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in front of the White House Sept. 13, as stated by USA Today.

“We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits,” Sanders said to the estimated 3,000 people in attendance. “We stand united in saying, ‘Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.’”

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled against the Standing Rock Tribe Oct. 9, where a three-judge panel blocked a request to stop developers from working in Lake Oahe on the Missouri River, where the tribe believes that the project will destroy sacred land.
Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the company in charge of assembling the pipeline, needs final permission from the court to complete the project. Each month of delay will cost an estimated $80 million, according to attorneys who represent the companies in charge of construction.

Opposition from Native Americans and environmentalists have not curtailed the wishes of deep-pocketed expansion from corporate giants, even as backlash has increased from an angry public.

“Industry needs legal and regulatory certainty to make the kinds of enormous investments required to build it,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to the Dickinson Press. “Pipelines, transmission lines, rail and roads are all necessary to safely transport both the renewable and traditional energy our country needs.”

Without conducting a thorough analysis of damage that is likely to occur from building the pipeline, the unforeseen effects could have a lasting impact for decades to come. Documents have been signed, permission from legal authorities have been granted, but extensive research must be administered to fully understand the ramifications that will eventually be caused by corporate entities who hastily move to satisfy their greedy benefactors.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not backing down from this fight,” Archambault said. “We are guided by prayer, and we will continue to fight for our people. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred places are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

Would be better towards the top because it would allow a more concise explanation of the problem we are facing.

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