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    Lakota Activists and Supporters Protest Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota

    Native American Activists Successfully Hold Off North Dakota Pipeline

    © AP Photo/ James MacPherson
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    For the past two weeks, Lakota, Yankton, and Dakota Sioux members have camped out on a Missouri River tributary, protesting the construction of an oil pipeline they state is a threat to the river and surrounding watershed. For the time being, the activists have held off Dakota Access, the pipeline company, as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    Two hearings are scheduled this week in North Dakota federal court. On Wednesday the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s July 27 lawsuit against the USACE will be considered, challenging the Army’s refusal to conduct a thorough survey of the pipeline’s environmental impact.

    The suit, filed by the environmental group EarthJustice, says, in part, "The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the tribe's environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the tribe." 

    Last Monday, Dakota Access filed a suit of their own against Native American activists and their supporters, seeking a restraining order for blocking access to the pipeline build site. A temporary restraining order was granted the following day by US District Judge Dan Hovland. On Thursday, August 25, Hovland will hear arguments on whether the order should be made permanent.

    Kyle Kirschmeier, Sheriff of Morton County, North Dakota, warned against visiting the site, claiming that Sioux organizers had pipe bombs and were carrying weapons. Most reports, however, showed protesters wielding only cell phones, drums and a tribal flag.

    Sacred Stone Spiritual Camp and Red Warrior Camp residents celebrated after Sheriff Kirschmeier announced on Prairie Public Broadcasting that "construction of the Dakota Access pipeline south of Mandan, has been stopped — for safety reasons." 

    A spokesman for the parent company of Dakota Access, Energy Transfer Partners, said that construction on the 30-inch-diameter pipeline, "has been halted at the protest site," until the August 24 court hearing, but indicated that progress on the pipeline "continues elsewhere."

    Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners intended to pump some 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day through the pipeline, a 1,168 miles stretch from Bakken Oil Fields in western North Dakota to a terminus in Southern Illinois. 

    Lead defendant and Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault was one of 28 protesters arrested last week, and refutes the claims of violent intent made by Dakota Access and local law enforcement. "The position of our tribe is clear" he said, "There's no place for threats, violence or criminal activity, that is simply not our way."

    The Morton County Sheriff’s Office claimed that, "unlawful actions that led to their arrests included breaching law enforcement lines, charging at officers with their horses and throwing objects at officers," adding, "Our goal is to keep this situation peaceful and lawful, if at any time the protests become unlawful, law enforcement will take appropriate actions to mitigate the situation."

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    Tags:
    environmental activism, Native American, Crude Oil Pipeline, North Dakota, United States
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