Thousands of people gathered in camps at the reservation and on nearby federally-owned land after the tribe's requests for an injunction to halt the pipeline project were denied in court. The tribe's leaders claim they were not properly consulted before Dakota Acess, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, was granted a permit to move forward with the project.
Outraged Americans took to social media to highlight the striking differences in the way the Native American protesters have been treated as compared to the organizers of the January standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
"On the same day that a jury acquitted the Bundy brothers and their fellow protesters for taking over federal land in Oregon last January, police in North Dakota today used pepper spray gas and a painful high-pitched siren, and then arrested 117 Native Americans and others for protesting a private oil pipeline across land they say belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe under a 19th-century treaty," Robert Reich, secretary of labor under President Clinton, posted on Facebook on Friday.
"In other words, it's fine to mount an armed insurrection so your cattle can graze for free on federal land, but not if you want to protect your sacred burial ground or your only source of water from a private for-profit oil pipeline company."
— NYC Revolution Club (@NYCRevClub) October 29, 2016
— Crystal Johnson (@Crystal1Johnson) October 30, 2016
Social media has become the primary source for updates on the situation North Dakota, with the hashtag #noDAPL trending on Twitter.