Despite ongoing resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a North Dakota federal court has ordered the Indigenous group to stop their blockade protests of a US$3.8-billion oil pipeline.
The restraining order is in response to the group’s protests at the pipeline’s construction site for the past few days.
“The tribe is committed to doing all it can to make sure the demonstrations … are done in the right way,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as reported by Think Progress. “As we have said from the beginning, demonstrations regarding Dakota Access must be peaceful.”
On Monday, protesters arrived at the site and surrounded the machinery at the work site, prompting an instruction to the workers to leave their equipment. On that same day, the developer of the pipeline, Dakota Access, filed a lawsuit against the protesters, citing that worker and law enforcement safety was at risk.
The Bakken pipeline, as it is known, is almost as long as a previously proposed mammoth pipeline, Keystone XL. It will cut through all of Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. As it’s owned by a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the line will carry around 570,000 barrels of sweet crude oil every day, that is fracked from North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken Formation, all the way to Patoka, Illinois.
The project will run through wildlife areas, sacred Native American sites, and water sources such as the Mississippi and the Missouri, some of the longest rivers on the continent, prompting its critics to press that the pipeline poses a major threat to ecosystems.
Federal agencies, however, continue to argue that the Bakken avoids “critical habitat” and is safe.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe countered with their own lawsuit against the developer to challenge their permits to build the pipeline. The hearing is set for next week.
Protests by different nations at the site. | Photo: Urban Native Era
“The pipeline presents a threat to our land, our sacred sites, our water and to the people,” said Archambault. “Our basic message is that the Corps of Engineers has failed to follow the law and has failed to consider the impacts of the pipeline on Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”
Law officials started to detain people two days after the protest began, and Archambault was among them, charged late last week with disorderly conduct and trespassing.
The protests have grown considerably this past weekend, with celebrities such as Shailene Woodley, Rosario Dawson, and Riley Keough coming out to support the protesters.
“It is our responsibility to learn the narrative in which Native Americans recall their own history and are walking their own history, and this is a beautiful opportunity for that,” said Woodley, as reported by Look to the Stars, a celebrity news site. “Not only are we saying enough is enough to the fossil fuel industry but we’re saying enough is enough to silence. That’s why this fight is so profound to me.”
While the restraining order has been put into place, the protest is likely to continue, albeit further away from the site.