You may have read a lot about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) recently, more specifically the #NODAPL protests and subsequent tensions between law enforcement and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North and South Dakota. If you’re unfamiliar with the pipeline, the below videos (also available here and here), provide relatively thorough summaries of recent events.
*The below video shows real footage of protesters being targeted by law enforcement. Coverage is from Democracy Now, and may be unsettling to some viewers. Also, it’s worth noting that Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (the first news organization to send a reporter to Standing Rock to cover the protests, is facing criminal charges for her coverage of the pipeline.
The pipeline has been around for almost two years, although it only recently made headlines for the massive protests against its installation in the Dakotas. Protesters include locals, and environmental and indigenous activists. According to a Time article,
“‘Tribal leaders and indigenous leaders have been talking about the need to keep fossil fuels in the group for a long time,’ says Lena Mofitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign. ‘It’s a natural partnership.’
There are benefits to the pipeline, which would allow the US to continue its energy independence from the Middle East. However, the overarching question is whether these benefits outweigh the lasting damages it will have on the nearby tribe and environment?
The implementation of the pipeline reveals a problem prevalent throughout US history: our treatment and exploitation of Native people. If DAPL is completed, it will interfere with Standing Rock’s right to clean water, trivialize the importance of their burial grounds (one of which will be destroyed if the pipeline is built), and further illustrate the lack of value placed on Native lives. Native Americans have been subjected to many social, political, and economic struggles in the US (which you can read more about here), and this is no exception.
Many have taken a stand to support the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, like actress Shailene Woodley who was arrested with other protesters on October 10th for trespassing. She livestreamed her arrest below on her Facebook page. Other notable celebrities supporting Standing Rock include Leonardo DiCaprio and Rosario Dawson.
Not only is DAPL facing a lot of backlash, but it also undermines the wellbeing of those living in Standing Rock. Morally, this pipeline is a clear infringement on Native rights, and that needs to be taken more seriously than DAPL’s economic benefits.