For many Indigenous students on ENMU campus, the Dakota Access Pipeline not only affects their communities, but their basic human rights as sovereign nations. “It [the outcome] is going to effect me and native culture as a whole,” said Giselle Quiver, ENMU junior from San Felipe Pueblo. “Everything goes back to the water…it is our way of life.”
Since April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have faced off against big oil companies, including Energy Transfer Partners, who are determined to implement a pipeline through treaty lands, sacred burial sites and three rivers.
In addition to the Keystone Pipeline, commissioned in 2010, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has fueled tension between Indigenous communities and the United States Government. If the pipeline is built, it runs a risk of contaminating neighboring tribe’s water resources.
Throughout the duration of the #NoDAPL movement, Indigenous tribes (both international and domestic) have stood in solidarity with Standing Rock and the fight for clean water. This includes demonstrations in London, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and Norway.
The growing movement of water protectors has led to more than 4,000 people joining the Oceti Sakowin Camp located in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Through non-violent direction action has been taken, chaos ensued after August 10, 2016, resulting in the arrests of over 500 people.
Among those arrested have been Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, Shailene Woodley (actress), Red Fawn (active water protector and political prisoner), and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!).
Despite the peaceful efforts of Indigenous water protectors, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the National Guard, and Dakota Access Pipeline affiliates have responded in a militarized fashion. Beginning on September 3, 2016, DAPL authorities began to employ attack dogs, tasers, and LRAD sound machines, leaving over 300 protectors injured and in serious condition.
With the risk of flooding, the water protectors have begun a major clean-up of camps beginning in early February, with the hopes of moving camps to higher ground. As word spread about Trump’s executive order, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has since taken legal action as of February 14, 2017 to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Following the executive order of Trump, the police and militant forces have begun immediate evacuation processes. Encroaching toward the Oceti Sakowin Camp, riot police have begun arresting individuals on the front lines, including media reporters as of February 22, 2017.
Despite these intimidation tactics by police, water protectors continue to remain vigilant at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, determined now more than ever to stand until the end.