There is a celebration in Standing Rock Indian Reservation tonight.
Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers blocked the DAPL Pipeline by refusing to grant an easement over land claimed by Native Americans for the pipeline.
This does not mean the pipeline will not be built. The Army is conducting environmental impact analyses to determine possible alternative routes.
So while protesters are claiming a major victory, the eventual placement of the pipeline is yet to be known.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 4, 2016
In a statement, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said:
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” the tribe said in a statement. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.
The denial comes as thousands of veterans have descended upon Standing Rock to support hundreds of native Americans as they protest the planned intrusion onto their sacred lands. Law enforcement officials had promised to start clearing the protesters’ encampments starting Dec. 5th. Today’s announcement should avert the showdown.
Native Americans have protested law enforcement’s heavy-handed approach to these peaceful protesters, in comparison with the treatment of anti-government protesters who occupied a federal preserve in Oregon earlier this year, and their leaders’ eventual acquittal by a jury.
This appears to be a demonstration that the power of the citizenry can prevail over government bureaucracy and monied interests. It occurred, of course, under the Obama administration but may provide a blueprint for similar action under the apparently upcoming Trump administration.
The Corps of Engineer’s decision will not likely kill the pipeline. It will almost certainly divert it from disputed lands. However, if the Trump administration actually takes power, there will be factions within it that will attempt to overturn the Corps of Engineer’s decision, for political purposes and reignite the dispute. If the Army documents its objections properly, it may become legally impossible to build the pipeline on tribal lands, no matter what the Oil-rich Trump administration wants.
Therefore its important to recognize what helped get the message out here, so preparations are easier next time:
- organized medium to long term resistance
- effective supporters among veterans’ groups, law enforcement and credible celebrities, such as Jane Fonda (please see fine article here)
- national media coverage that tells a compelling story on a human level
- involved local media, such as Christopher Hagen’s fine articles in the High Plains Reader and on Facebook.
- live video feed of the site (particularly compelling was the live blog of a nighttime law enforcement attack)
- a David vs. Goliath (citizen v. corporate or citizen v. one percenter) storyline
- compelling victims who are able to communicate their story and concerns
- photojournalists who use pictures to tell the stories of the people
- committed and passionate supporters, willing to risk arrest and harm in the pursuit of an ideal
- monetary, political and legal support
- an effective counter-media strategy to respond to the disinformation put out by law enforcement and its supporters to sway public opinion.
- always telling the truth, and portraying the reality of the situation as it is, without exaggeration or falsity.
This strategy can be duplicated over and over again as new challenges present themselves.
This will be crucial for the environmental battles to come.
Other articles by Marty Rudoy
Featured Photo: 2016 DNC Protest By Becker1999 from Grove City, OH via Wikimedia Commons
Stand with Standing Rock SF Nov. 2016 By Pax Ahimsa Gethen (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Dakota Access Pipeline “Elder Addressing Crowd”By Shane Balkowitsch (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Malheur Wildlife Refuge Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons