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Native Pipeline Protests in National Headlines

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_dapl_dc_hearing_eb_cherokees_50k_donation_benjamin_west.jpgOn September 9, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline, a pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada into the U.S. that will run under the Missouri River and across sacred Indigenous sites and a Native cemetery, would not be halted, despite Indigenous protests. Though the judge was clear that the court understands the importance of the sacred sites to the Standing Rock Sioux nation, and he even recognized the centuries-long injustices meted out upon Indigenous nations, the pipeline would continue to be built. But then the federal government stepped in and temporarily over-rided the judge's determination. Above is a photograph of Cherokee women protestors from Indian Country Today Media network. The Cherokee nation gave $50,000.00 to the Standing Rock Sioux nation for their legal defense expenses.

Background information: A company called Energy Transfer Partners plans to run a pipeline, called the Dakota Access Pipeline, through the Standing Rock Sioux nation's territory. Originally, the pipeline was going to be run under the Missouri River in Bismarck, North Dakota, which is the state's capitol and is a largely EuroAmerican neighborhood. It was determined, however, that the pipeline might potentially contaminate the water there, so the pipeline plan changed to be run through Indigenous lands. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has been fighting the Energy Transfer Partners company in court since 2014! By treaty and federal law, the Army Corps of Engineers MUST confer with all Native American nations if they plan to do anything on Native lands. The Army Corps did not confer with the Standing Rock Sioux and are thus in violation of federal law. Further, the Standing Rock Sioux charge that the pipeline is in violation of the Clean Water Act, among other federal laws; but, most importantly, the pipeline violates the human law that mandates our responsibility to protect Mother Earth.b2ap3_thumbnail_img_9537.jpg

Native nations have set up a Prayer Camp where Native and non-Native people have been converging for the past several weeks. There are about 4,000 protestors there now. On September 6, local police sicced attack dogs on Indigenous peaceful protestors. German Shepherds and Pitbulls bit Native people, including a pregnant woman, while the police pepper-sprayed them. It was chillingly similar to the attacks on African-American and other peaceful protestors during the march to Birmingham in the 1960s. After these attacks on Native protestors, the federal government stepped in and stopped the building of the pipeline. Although the halt is temporary, the protestors are elated.

Native people from all nations across Turtle Island are converging on the Prayer Camp in North Dakota. At the center of this camp, people are introducing themselves in their Native languages--some have come all the way from Hawaii in order to help. This is an indication of how important this moment is, an historic moment when the government stepped in and did the right thing for Native Americans. People from all over the country are bringing truckloads of firewood for ceremonial lodges and food, blankets, bottled water, and first aid supplies. All of Indian Country, and many non-Indian people, are turning out to help the cause of protecting Mother Earth and the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux. As you can see in the photo above, the road into the Prayer Camp is lined with flags from many Indigenous nations in a show of unified solidarity. Photo credit: ICTMN: Nick Estes, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Co-founder of the Red Nation.b2ap3_thumbnail_566nationstronglogo-002.jpg

Leonardo di Caprio, Jackson Browne, and Susan Sarandon are but a few famous people who are speaking out to gather support for this cause. For more information and to help, check out these sites:

#566NationsStrong  #StandingRock #NoDAPL #RezPectOurWater #Hunkpapa

The #566NationsStrong design is by Joey Montoya, Urban Native Era (

Several weeks ago the protest made the front page of The New York Times, something that rarely happens for Indians. The power of this protest is galvanizing Indigenous communities and holds great promise for gaining justice for land rights and sovereignty for Native Americans in the future. "Stay United" is the watchword from the nations until the final ruling occurs, and that is precisely what they are doing.

To read more:


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Dr. Mays is a professional writer with a doctoral degree in Native American Studies who has taught at the college level for nearly two decades. She is committed to educating about Indigenous cultures, especially about practices that specifically relate to women, in order to raise awareness about current issues in Indian Country, dissolve stereotypes, and create healing among all communities.


  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Monday, 19 September 2016

    If there is a danger in white neighborhoods, there is danger on Indian lands. How long will the genocide on which this nation was built be allowed to continue. Thanks for this post!

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