Last month, after years of resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies, a judge ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down.
This is good news. But it’s not the full story.
Before I tell you the story — and it’s as damning a tale as any told about this nation’s dealings with its First Peoples — I’m going to ask you to use your voice today to support Indigenous Peoples around the world and across the country.
Though you’ve probably already heard much of it, here’s the synopsis:
An oil pipeline (which counted Donald Trump as one of its investors) was rerouted from the predominantly white city of Bismarck to run directly through the treaty lands and drinking-water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. When the tribe protested and filed a lawsuit, the National Guard was sent in. Protestors and activists who came to support the Standing Rock Sioux were met by weapons of war — in fact, some of these federal agents were better armed than militaries, with weapons like surface-to-air missile launchers.
After months, President Obama intervened, ordering an environmental review. But days after his inauguration, President Trump reversed the decision, and oil began flowing through the pipeline later that year.
While last month’s news that the pipeline must be emptied is undoubtedly something to celebrate, this is not the first or last battle in this centuries-old fight. The history of the Dakota Access Pipeline just shows how precarious Indigenous rights are and how committed we collectively need to be to protecting and advancing those rights.
Julian Brave NoiseCat
Member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and a descendant of the Lil’Wat Nation of Mount Currie
Advisory Board Member, Evergreen Action
Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Data for Progress