Native American leaders of the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have called for a massive march in Washington, D.C., following a flurry of decisions at the federal level that have paved the way for the final phase of construction on the controversial pipeline.
On Jan. 24, President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner ... requests for approvals to construct and operate” DAPL. On Feb. 8, the corps granted the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the final approval for the mostly finished project.
This critical easement is for the 1.25-mile portion of the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which is to be drilled underneath a dammed section of the Missouri River.
Furthermore, the environmental impact statement (EIS) promised by the corps during the final weeks of former President Barack Obama’s term was terminated.
ETP acknowledged that it would move ahead with construction after receiving the necessary approvals.
“This reckless decision is deeply disrespectful and dismissive of the tribe’s treaty rights and status,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, Feb. 9. “President Trump’s administration … is showing the American people that profits are more important than the national interest, the environment and the legitimate concerns of Native American communities. This is especially egregious given [Trump’s] past investment in the company building the pipeline.”
Udall’s comments echoed those of tribal officials from Standing Rock.
“As Native peoples, we have been knocked down again, but we will get back up, we will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“The Obama administration correctly found that the tribe’s treaty rights needed to be acknowledged and protected and that the easement should not be granted without further review and consideration of alternative crossing locations,” said Jan Hasselman, lead attorney for the tribe. “Trump’s reversal of that decision continues a historic pattern of broken promises to Indian tribes and unlawful violation of treaty rights. They will be held accountable in court.”
Pipeline resistance protests, actions and gatherings were hastily called for Feb. 8.
A group of Taoseños took to Taos Plaza for a moment of silence, speeches, songs and prayers. That evening, the Pueblo Water Protectors, a coalition of folks from Taos Pueblo who are organizing locally around the “NoDAPL” fight, demonstrated outside of a Santa Fe hotel where a legislative oil and gas dinner was being held.
On Feb. 9, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed for a temporary restraining order in federal court in D.C. in order to immediately halt construction and drilling on the DAPL, citing the immediate threats to water and the risk that posed to the practicing of Native American religions.
However, a federal judge denied that motion Feb. 13, which allowed construction to continue.
In response, a march on Washington has been called for March 10 to demand the Trump administration and federal government respect tribal rights and treaties.
While the Standing Rock tribe has previously asked those camped near the drilling site to return home as the tribe dives deeper into the court battle to stop the DAPL, many remain and others have joined again as the camps are being taken down and reassembled elsewhere because of flooding. Reports of the number of resistors on the ground are inconsistent, ranging from about 300 to 500 to as many as 1,000 people.