11:49 GMT14 May 2021
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    The construction of an oil pipeline that passes through the US state of North Dakota represents an opportunity for federal and local governments to increase tribal involvement in infrastructure projects, Dakota Resource Council (DRC) field organizer Nicole Donaghy told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that environmentalists have joined the protest of Native Americans against the construction of the pipeline, a 3.7 billion project.

    The pipeline will transport domestically-produced light crude oil from North Dakota through the states of South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois.

    "I think this is an opportunity for North Dakota and the federal government to look at the policies and how to better improve involvement in large pieces of infrastructure such as this," Donaghy said.

    However, the pipeline is being built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and the tribe claims it infringes on their burial grounds, sacred places and will affect their water sources. Since April, thousands have protested against the pipeline's construction, often in spite of brutal treatment by armed guards and police.

    Donaghy said anything that would destroy the Missouri River water supply poses an issue, which is the same argument that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has made.

    If North Dakota wants their energy independence, it should re-route the pipeline, but it should not be at the cost of millions of people, Donaghy pointed out.

    "At DRC, we support any efforts made by the Standing Rock Sioux tribes," Donaghy added.

    One hundred and twenty three mostly Native Americans protesting the construction of the pipeline have so far been arrested since August, according to media reports.

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