As Pipeline Demonstration Grows, North Dakota Authorities Pull Drinking Water from Camp

Lauren McCauley August 23, 2016

Riders from the Standing Rock, Rosebud, and Lower Brule Lakota reservations approach a police line that formed between a group of protesters and the entrance to the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. The demonstration, still growing, began last week following the Army Corp of Engineers approval of the pipeline in Washington D.C.

Grow­ing in num­ber and spir­it, the Stand­ing Rock Sioux protest against the Dako­ta Access Pipeline is swift­ly gain­ing strength ahead of a fed­er­al hear­ing on the con­tro­ver­sial project. Sup­port has spread across the coun­try, and thou­sands have descend­ed on the peace­ful prayer camps” in recent days, prompt­ing state offi­cials on Mon­day to remove the demon­stra­tors’ drink­ing water supply.

North Dako­ta home­land secu­ri­ty direc­tor Greg Wilz ordered the removal of state-owned trail­ers and water tanks from the protest encamp­ment, despite the swel­ter­ing heat, because of alleged dis­or­der­ly con­duct, accord­ing to the Bis­mar­ck Tri­bune, includ­ing reports of laser point­ers aimed at sur­veil­lance aircraft.

Peo­ple are get­ting over­heat­ed now already,” said Johnelle Lein­gang, the tribe’s emer­gency response coor­di­na­tor, as tem­per­a­tures hov­ered around 90º F on Mon­day. It’s very hurtful.”

The sup­plies were pro­vid­ed last week by the North Dako­ta Depart­ment of Health at the tribe’s request to sup­port the rough­ly 2,500 peo­ple now gath­ered along the Stand­ing Rock reser­va­tion’s bor­der on the Can­non­ball Riv­er, near where the pipeline is slat­ed to cross.

Stand­ing Rock spokesman Steven Sit­ting Bear said he’s received noti­fi­ca­tions from tribes all over the coun­try that have car­a­vans in route, so it’s con­tin­u­ing to grow.”

On Wednes­day, high pro­file activists and sup­port­ers are ral­ly­ing in Wash­ing­ton D.C. out­side the U.S. Dis­trict Court, where mem­bers of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux will argue that the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers grant­ed Ener­gy Trans­fer Cor­po­ra­tion approval for the 1,172-mile pipeline with­out trib­al consent.

The tribe says that the pipeline — which will car­ry up to 570,000 bar­rels of fracked Bakken oil dai­ly across four states to a mar­ket hub in Illi­nois — puts the sacred waters of the Mis­souri Riv­er at great risk.

Native youth and sup­port­ers protest the Dako­ta Access Pipeline in New York City on August 7, 2016. (Pho­to: Joe Catron / Flickr)

Cli­mate cam­paign­er and 350​.org co-founder Bill McK­ibben penned an op-ed on Mon­day titled After 525 years, it’s time to actu­al­ly lis­ten to Native Americans.”

McK­ibben notes that in recent years Indige­nous peo­ple like the Stand­ing Rock Sioux have been the van­guard of the move­ment to slow down cli­mate change,” and offers a vision of what it might mean if the if the Army Corps, or the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, sim­ply said: You know what, you’re right. We don’t need to build this pipeline.’”

It would mean that after 525 years, some­one had actu­al­ly paid atten­tion to the good sense that Native Amer­i­cans have been offer­ing almost from the start,” he continues:

One has the omi­nous sense of grim his­to­ry about to be reen­act­ed at Stand­ing Rock. North Dako­ta author­i­ties — who are in essence a sub­sidiary of the fos­sil fuel indus­try — have insist­ed that the Sioux are vio­lent, that they have pipe bombs.” There are rumors about call­ing in the Nation­al Guard. The pos­si­bil­i­ty for renewed tragedy is very real. 

But the pos­si­bil­i­ty for a new out­come is there as well. The Army Corps of Engi­neers might back off. The pres­i­dent might decide, as he did with Key­stone, that this pipeline would exac­er­bate” cli­mate change and hence should be reviewed more care­ful­ly. We might, after five cen­turies, actu­al­ly lis­ten to the only peo­ple who’ve ever suc­cess­ful­ly inhab­it­ed this con­ti­nent for the long term.

Con­struc­tion on the pipeline remains halt­ed after devel­op­ers paused the project last week in antic­i­pa­tion of the Wednes­day hearing. 

Mean­while, a U.S. Dis­trict Court hear­ing on whether a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion should be issued against the pro­test­ers has been resched­uled from Thurs­day to Sept. 8, although a restrain­ing order against the demon­stra­tors has also been extend­ed until then. Fil­ing the order on Mon­day, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Daniel Hov­land wrote that fac­tions are ‘”strong­ly encour­aged to meet and con­fer in good faith’ to try and resolve the dis­pute out of court,” the Tri­bune report­ed.

Updates are being shared on social media with the hash­tags #NoDAPL and #Rezpec­tOur­Wa­ter.


Peo­ple con­tin­ue to gath­er in Can­non Ball, North Dako­ta to protest the pipeline. (Pho­to: native​new​son​line​.net)

This arti­cle was first post­ed on com​mon​dreams​.org.

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Lau­ren McCauley is a staff writer for Com­mon Dreams.
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