Indigenous Peoples

A huge win for the Sioux: the Dakota Access Pipeline has been blocked

Riconosciuti i rischi ambientali del progetto Dakota access pipeline. Una vittoria per i sioux e tutti gli nativi americani. Ma la lotta potrebbe non essere finita.

The unexpected news comes after six months of battles that brought together all major Native American tribes. The Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it won’t grant permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River and close to the lands of the Sioux. In turn, it will plan alternative routes after consulting the public.

Celebrations at Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

DAPL, the US army recognises the environmental risks

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project aims to build a 170,000-kilometre oil pipeline that would carry 400,000 oil barrels (64 million litres) every day, extracted with invasive techniques from the Bakken formation. The army’s technicians have recognised that the pipeline would have threatened the water reservoirs of the Standing Rock settlements, located between North Dakota and South Dakota. Sioux’s protests in the area have begun in April and many indigenous tribes have joined the movement.

For its environmental value, the protest has straight away gained the support of many Hollywood stars: from Jane Fonda and Mark Ruffalo to Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Kennedy, Susan Sarandon and Ben Affleck. Just a few days ago, 2,000 veterans joined the Oceti Sakowin campsite, where thousands of people gathered to physically oppose the construction of the pipeline. Their arrival has also prevented other clashes between officials and protesters, which were given an ultimatum to leave the area owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

dakota access pipeline
© JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

What if Trump will try to reverse the decision

“This kind of victory is rare precisely because it’s contagious, because it shows people everywhere that organizing and resistance is not futile,” writes Naomi Klein, journalist and activist who took part in the protest. “Everyone here is aware that the fight is not over. The company will challenge the decision. Trump will try to reverse it. The legal path is not yet clear”.

The victory, however, won’t relieve the violence protesters had to endure – from massive arrests, threats with dogs, pepper spray and tear gas that caused several inured. But it gives hopes: it will serve as an example and inspiration for finding alternatives to economies based on fossil fuels, which threaten the climate and water resources. “The first people of this land have to teach this country how to live again. By going green, by going renewable, by using the blessings the creator has given us: the sun and the wind”.

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