Standing Rock takes a stand



Nantinki Young – known as Tink – stirs large pot of soup for protesters gathered along the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

As corporate interests attempt to disrupt an Indian reservation and the environment around it, the name “Standing Rock” takes on a new meaning. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline not only endangers the environment but also negatively affects the community. As a result, the pipeline should be eradicated, or at least rerouted.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil pipeline that is projected to stretch from North Dakota to Illinois. The construction of this pipeline is controversial due to the effect it may have on the environment and the people surrounding it.

Because of these concerns, there have been protests by groups including environmentalists, Native American tribes, and landowners. Pipelines similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline can burst or leak, which can wreak havoc on the surrounding ecosystems. The pipe is underground, which means that if oil escapes into the soil, it will become difficult to clean up.

Also, because the pipeline is underneath the Missouri River, if there was a spill, the oil could seep into the river’s water, contaminating it immediately. The bursting of the pipe would be harmful to the surrounding natural resources such as crops and wildlife. The depletion of these natural resources due to oil spills could be detrimental to local economies.

The pipeline will also negatively affect the community surrounding it. Originally, the pipeline was routed underneath the Missouri River, a historically sacred area for the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation. The pipeline would endanger the well-being of the river, which is important to the history and heritage of these people.

Other landowners are also affected by this pipeline, because if the oil escapes into the environment, it can be harmful to their health and also to their communities.

The pipe is proposed to be a safer alternative to the current way that oil is transported, which is by railroad. Instead of using a pipeline which upsets large groups of people, it would be better to just improve the current system.
On Dec. 4, the Sioux had a major win when the Army Corps of Engineers went back on its decision to let the pipeline run under the Missouri River after veterans showed up to aid in the protests. While this decision is not definite and could be rescinded, it is still a victory for the protesters.

Even when police authorities took violent action against the protesters by using K-9 forces, pepper spray, and even proposing cutting off food and other supplies to the protesters, the protesters remained peaceful and showed strength and perseverance.

This just goes to show that when protesters remain peaceful, they can still have positive results. It also shows that in a society that advocates for violence, there can still be peaceful resolutions.

For example, the April 2015 Baltimore protests that quickly turned into riots would have been more effective if they would have remained peaceful. Turning a protest into a riot undermines any good intentions and results in failure.

Overall, if the Dakota Access Company just altered the existing route to one that was more beneficial to the environment and the people around the pipe, then it would be a plan that is easier to support. In addition, the Sioux Native Americans showed that a peaceful protest is more effective than one with violence.

Elizabeth Harmison is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and