Dakota Pipeline Protests

Discord runs deeper than disagreement

In the latest in a series of violent encounters regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, law enforcement officers and nearly 400 protestors clashed on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Demonstrators set fires, and officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water at the crowds on a night where temperatures fell to 28 degrees Fahrenheit, according to CNN.

This is not the first conflict between the government and indigenous peoples, and it will not be the last. We the Threefold Advocate believe that we must consider that this ongoing discord between the government, law enforcement and the Sioux people runs deeper than a pipeline. Underlying the Native Americans’ protest are century old wounds inflicted by government intrusions on their tribal lands. Jennifer Baker, senior associate at law firm Fredericks Peebles & Morgan, said in a Washington Post article, “It’s important not to lose sight of the greater sovereignty issue. To overlook that would be to not do justice to such an important cause.”

The Dakota Pipeline conflict agitates a painful history of Native American dispossession and the advancement of business transactions and economic promotion over indigenous heritage and rights. The 1,172-mile pipeline may be profitable and efficient, but at what cost? The pipeline would carry nearly 570,000 barrels of shale oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois, according to the Washington Post.

The Standing Rock Sioux are worried about a potential oil leak in the Missouri River, which is their primary water source. Moreover, they are protesting to stop their sacred burial and prayer sites from being destroyed in the construction of the pipeline.

Legally, the dispute is framed around whether the tribe was meaningfully consulted about the project, and the international standard is consent, according to Al Jazeera. The Washington post reported that the tribal council had met with executives of Energy Transfer, the pipeline project owner, in 2014 and clearly stated their opposition to the pipeline. We The Threefold Advocate believe that we should support the Standing Rock Sioux in this conflict because the pipeline would cross their legal borders into land that is rightfully theirs, and they have not given consent.

We believe that any long-lasting conflict resolution is going to require cooperation between the government, law enforcement and the Standing Rock Sioux, but ultimately, the Standing Rock Sioux should be treated with dignity and their concerns should be respected, and their rights and heritage should be honored.