For the thousands of Native American tribal members who have been camping in the Dakotas in an effort to protect their lands from environmental ruin, Friday,September 9th, 2016, will be known as “game changer” day.
    September 9th was the day when three federal departments, the Justice, Interior and the Federal Army Corps of Engineers, acted on orders from President Obama to temporarily halt work on the Dakota pipeline.  Construction will be suspended until adequate hearings and consideration is given to the Native American tribal nations that have lived on the land for hundreds of generations.
    The federal directive was delivered with dramatic aplomb: in a surprising turn of events on September 9th, federal Judge James E. Boasberg, of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. had issued his ruling that construction could commence given that adequate attempts were made to hear the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux.
     As press releases condemning Judge Boasberg’s ruling were being prepared by the Standing Rock Sioux, who had been preparing for defeat from the court, the news came that the federal government had halted the pipeline construction - creating the need for immediate press revisions given the critical reversal of events from the federal government.
    “Today’s news is a stunning development,” Jan Hasselman, a lawyer with Earthjustice, the environmental legal defense organization that is representing the Standing Rock Sioux told The New York Times.  “It vindicates what the tribe has been saying from the beginning: The process was wrong, and the legal standards for projects like these need reform.”
    The federal ruling was also perceived an an attempt to cool the tensions between the several thousand Native American Tribal members that have congregated in the Dakotas to “protect” their ancestral lands, from the often violent ferocity of the builders of the $3.8 billion pipeline, the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners.  
    On Labor Day weekend, the weekend before the Federal intervention, the security firm hired by the contractors overseeing the Dakota Access pipeline project had let loose their guard dogs onto the Native American members while they were being pepper sprayed.
    There is too much at stake for the Standing Rock Sioux and for the Energy Transfer Partners, the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline, for this despite to be settled anytime soon.
    The Dakota Access pipeline has been fast-tracked for approval,  making the calls for oversight and transparency of the significantly harder to realize.  The proposed project would carry crude oil 1,172 miles through South Dakota to refineries in Illinois.
    The Energy Transfer Partners envision themselves as the beneficent providers of good jobs and as a significant option for American energy independence from foreign oil.  They have billions of corporate dollars at risk if the company changes direction.
    For the Standing Rock Sioux, nothing less than the future of successive generations’ water supply is jeopardized.  The proposed pipeline would damage or destroy cultural sites near its route.  Environmental damage to the water supply is also a near certainty - the water that has sustained the people of the Dakotas for generations.
    While the necessary studies of the impact of Dakota Access pipeline begin, news of the tremendous victory the Standing Rock Sioux have accomplished has become nationwide news.  In the week following September 9th, there have been over 200 peaceful solidarity actions across the country to educate the public on the certain destruction Native American sacred sites and the environmental ruin the Dakota Access pipeline would bring.
    “A marginalized community has spoken out in its own self-defense and instead of being ignored, it has been heard,” stated Rhea Suh of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And the chorus of supporters demanding justice isn’t fading; it’s actually getting louder.”
    The Native Americans that have congregated in support of the Standing Rock Sioux remain.  They will not leave until the Dakota Access pipeline narrative has concluded.
    

 

Published by Nancy Snyder