If you have had any interaction with social media, the news or other humans, you have most likely heard of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests that are taking place on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. While this is not a new conflict, it has garnered significant attention after videos of violence and celebrity arrests have gone viral. So what do you need to know about DAPL, and why is this so important?
What is DAPL?
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a pipeline that would extend 1,100 miles from the Bakken Oil Fields in northern North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa, ending in southern Illinois. The proposed project is expected to be completed in January of 2017 despite active demonstrations.
What is the history?
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been under construction for a few months, beginning in North Dakota in May despite protests from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe concerning the path of the pipeline. The original plans showed the pipeline crossing the Missouri River closer to Bismarck, ND but were soon changed after fears of possible contamination of the state’s water supply. So naturally, in classic US Government fashion, it was moved near a Native American Reservation. According to the Sioux Tribe, the government did not properly consult with them considering the shift and that the new plans would pass through sacred burial grounds and could contaminate their water supply, damaging and potentially destroying significant economic, religious and cultural sites. The Tribe filed a request for a temporary injunction but that was denied in early October, however the Departments of the Interior, Justice, and Army have asked Dakota Access to halt construction in response to environmental concerns. Demonstrations continue to occur on the Standing Rock Reservation with a goal of halting the project. As of a October 27th, over 400 people have been arrested.
Who is involved?
The pipeline is being constructed by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of the energy corporation Energy Transfer Partners. Conflict exists primarily with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, though the larger Native American population has mobilized as well. President Obama has expressed remarks of solidarity with the Tribe, though federal action in accordance with those statements has yet to take place. Bernie Sanders has taken a hard stance against the pipeline and called for the President to do the same, as well as taking immediate actions to protect protesters and their supporters.
Why are people “checking in” at the Standing Rock Reservation?
Throughout day on Monday, October 31st, as many as 100,000 people have “checked in” at the Standing Rock Reservation. This is in response to a viral post claiming the local county police department uses Facebook to target protesters and when people from across the country “check in”, it supposedly confuses or distracts the police. The Morton County Police Department denied this claim in a tweet, but whether or not that is true, it is inspiring to see the massive number of people standing in solidarity with one of the most historically marginalized and oppressed groups in America.
Why is this important?
It’s no secret that Native Americans have been repeatedly exploited throughout the course of American history and this pipeline is no exception. Not only does it violate treaties, it poses serious environmental concerns and would disrespect and damage important cultural sites. Regardless of whether or not the pipeline directly affects you or not, it represents the morals of the country and how we treat our citizens and that is something everyone should care about.