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Struggle To Kill Dakota Access Pipeline Reinvigorated By Obama Intervention

Starting from roughly a dozen people when the camp formed in April in response to the prospective Dakota Access Pipeline, the Sacred Stone encampment has now climbed to over 8,000 people. Indigenous activists, both young and old fill the camp, and several Native American tribes have united in what has been described as a historic show of solidarity.

Recently, non-indigenous activists, including members of the Black Lives Matter movement, visited Standing Rock. On the celebrity front, the cast of the Justice League have voiced their support for the resistance movement in Dakota.

Most of the protesters view themselves as water protectors, as they are engaged in a struggle to protect water for future generations.

Due to the unyielding protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple activated the National Guard on Friday. According to “Democracy Now!”, Dalrymple activated the National Guard “ahead of the ruling on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. government over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.”

Dalrymple stated the National Guard “will be deployed to a checkpoint along Highway 1806” and as many as 100 additional guardsmen from the 191st Military Police Company will be on standby to be deployed at any moment. (Note: Over the weekend, “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman was charged by North Dakota with a criminal trespassing misdemeanor for reporting on the encampment and mercenaries, who attacked protesters.)

The Department of Justice released a joint statement from the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior in response to the suit, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, since it is the primary federal agency that authorized the permits needed for the pipeline’s construction.

The judge in this case, James Boasberg, ruled in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and concluded “the Tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.”

But the joint statement published by the Department of Justice indicated authorization for part of the pipeline construction was put on hold:

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.

Francine Garreau Hall of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe told “Democracy Now!” she was grateful for the intervention because the “federal government is bound by treaty law to protect our interests.” Bill Picotte, also a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said, “I’m pretty happy with the decision for them to step in. I know that maybe it’s not the end of the battle, but at least today, you know, we celebrate a small victory.”

While the development is seen as unprecedented, the resistance at Sacred Stone Camp continues, with coalitions further solidifying each day. And the water protectors organize under a powerful refrain: kill the pipeline, save the land.

September 13 is a #NoDAPL Day of Action. For more information, go here.

Creative Commons Photo from Marquette University
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Roqayah Chamseddine

Roqayah Chamseddine

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American writer, published poet, and journalist, whose work can be found at