Photography: Sara Lafleur-Vetter
After a long battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux has finally won. Yesterday afternoon, The US Army Corp of Engineers announced the Pipeline will be taking another route, away from the reservation.
“Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman, David Archambault II, in a statement. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”
At 1,800 miles the Dakota Access Pipeline will connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an oil terminal in Illinois. Had the government gone through with its initial plan, the DAPL would’ve run through the Standing Rock reservation, possibly destroying thousands of miles of land holding great cultural significance to the tribe, as well as threaten the area’s water supply. Over the last year, tribe members, water protectors and allies from across the country have traveled to North Dakota and Washington DC to protest the pipeline, culminating in yesterday’s victory. Now the government is tasked with finding an alternative route.
“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” said Army Assistant Secretary, Jo-Ellen Darcy. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
Whatever the alternative, Standing Rock is exactly what we needed. After a tumultuous year of heightened police brutality, senseless acts of violence and Trump’s presidential win, this victory is a reminder of the power in numbers and proof that our voices can be heard.