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  • Sami protesters, dressed in traditional clothes, walk through downtown Stockholm.

    Sami protesters, dressed in traditional clothes, walk through downtown Stockholm. | Photo: Reuters

Thousands have gathered from around the world to stand in the way of construction, contending that the pipeline would disturb sacred land and pollute waterways.

Indigenous Sami people and environmentalist groups convinced Norwegian bank DNB on Friday to sell all of its assets in the Dakota Access pipeline, which amounts to about 10 percent of the project’s total cost.

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It announced it was considering divesting earlier this month if concerns raised by Native American tribes against its construction were not addressed.

"We have initiated an independent review of how Indigenous rights are safeguarded in this process," said DNB’s Even Westerveld. "In addition, we have intensified the dialogue with our customers to use our position as a bank to influence a solution to the conflict."

The campaign Sum of Us, aided by Indigenous Sami people, Standing Rock camp attorneys and Greenpeace Norway, delivered a petition with 120,000 signatures demanding that the bank and others pull out of the pipeline. The Sami Parliament also pressured Norway's Oil Fund to reconsider its investments in the project, which is expected to transport over 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

“What we are bearing witness to at Standing Rock is a moment of history,” read the petition. “ We can't all be in North Dakota, but we can all stand in solidarity with those who are.”

DNB became the first bank to divest from the project, as pressure on TD Bank and Citibank is growing across the U.S. in solidarity actions.

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"The writing's on the wall for the Dakota Access pipeline. People power is winning," said Martin Norman, sustainable finance campaigner of Greenpeace Norway. "All financial institutions with a stake in the pipeline must quickly realize that financing this project is toxic. It would be smart for them to get out ahead of the growing movement of customers looking to divest from banks that finance the destruction of our planet and ignore Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Local authorities and protesters have been clashing over Energy Transfer Partner's US$3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline project, which, according to tribes, did not fully consult Native Americans, whose lands stand in the path of the pipeline.

Thousands have gathered from around the world to stand in the way of construction, contending that the pipeline would disturb sacred land and pollute waterways supplying millions nearby.

"DNB looks with worry at how the situation around the pipeline in North Dakota has developed. The bank will therefore take initiative and use its position to bring about a more constructive process to find a solution to the conflict," Norway's largest bank said in a statement earlier this month.

Reuters reported that the bank had supplied US$342.36 million in loans to build the pipeline.

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