Pipeline protest

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Pipeline protest

Photo courtesy of miniplanet.us/

Photo courtesy of miniplanet.us/

Photo courtesy of miniplanet.us/

Leah Harrell, News Editor

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The Dakota Access Pipeline designed to carry oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota to a refinery near Chicago is threatening sacred tribal lands of the Sioux tribe.  Protesting has increased immensely as it moves towards completion.  The Sioux tribe is protesting because they fear this pipeline can contaminate their drinking water and will disrupt land that they claim is rightfully owned by an 1851 treaty with the United States government.

“We have never ceded this land.  If Dakota Access Pipeline can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland,” said Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network according to Reuters.

Protesters there are being met with what the Morton County Sheriff’s Department calls “less-than-lethal ammunition to control the situation” according to The Huffpost.  Pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets have been used against the pipeline opponents.  The United Nations is now getting involved in order to investigate allegations of abuses of human rights against Native American protesters.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur of Indigenous Peoples, argues in favor of the protesters.  “The actions taken by police are unwarranted.  It’s something that should not be done because these are their legitimate rights,” said Tauli-Corpuz to The World Staff at PRI.  She hopes by going to North Dakota she will be able to initiate talks between the protesters and the oil companies that will bring to light a resolution.

President Obama has said the Army Corps of Engineers are exploring alternatives to reroute the pipeline. In an interview with NowThis, he stated more time will be spent to find a solution but he also asked both sides of the dispute to remain peaceful so injuries can be avoided.

Former White House spokesman and head of communications at the Environmental Protection Agency, Frank Benenati, commented that as long as the environmental impact study isn’t concerning, the EPA would be fine with it.  However, the route of the pipeline is the actual problem. “As a general rule, our view is that there needs to be a way for us to protect the sacred land of Native Americans,” Benenati said.

The protest itself is gaining support nationally and internationally. Aboriginals all the way from Australia are showing their support for the Sioux. A social media movement has been placing the locations of pictures and posts on Facebook to be Standing Rock in North Dakota in order to show support and raise awareness to the issue.