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By: Amber Xu

This July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a $3.7 billion dollar project to construct a pipeline that would transport approximately 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields. This project was authorized amidst pending lawsuits and local resistance. Thousands of Americans across the nation are standing against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), and these protests have grown to the largest gathering of Native Americans in over 100 years. Protests are painting the news, as well as the fact that excessive, and even military style force is used against protesters. Police have fired tear gas, water cannon and concussion grenades at them. So, what is this national protest really about?

DAPL’s route crosses agricultural land, protected wildlife habitats, and three major rivers: the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Big Sioux, which provide water to millions of Native Americans. If the pipeline breaks, these millions will be hit hard, as it is such a significant source of water. An alternative route had been proposed, but was rejected in part because it crossed a part of the Missouri River near where the city of Bismarck gets its water. They rejected this alternative route because the city of Bismarck would be impacted, but continue its construction where Native Americans will be impacted. This pipeline could also disrupt certain sites of significant cultural and historical importance, including burial grounds. A lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribes against the DAPL contended that the construction of this pipeline will cause irreparable damage to sacred lands. Furthermore, it states that the Dakota Access LLC failed to adequately consult with local tribes before construction, which is in active violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. The tribe filed an emergency motion on September 4 for a temporary restraining order “to prevent further destruction of the tribe’s sacred sites by Dakota Access Pipeline,” said KCCI News, quoting the tribal chairman as saying, “On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites.”

Look at it this way. The safety of millions of indigenous people whom we, as a nation, have historically oppressed ever since this country was founded, or the money that this pipeline brings in? We already took this country from them. Should we take more? Now you may be thinking, “There’s no way I can go to Standing Rock to protest! Is there anything else I can do to help?” And the answer is yes! You can sign the petition in telling President Obama to permanently end construction of the DAPL. You can also donate to aid in the protest effort, as the days are getting colder and protesters will need all the help they can get. If not for the blatant human rights violation, I believe we owe Native Americans just this much, to stand with them against a pipeline endangering their water supply and sites that hold great cultural and historical significance.

About Eric Guo

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