Why the Dakota Pipeline Matters

by Patty Affriol

Native American rights often get pushed aside and left forgotten in human rights and equality discussions. Lately, however, their environmental concerns have been front and center, as protestors gather to stop the construction of the Dakota Pipeline – which is a proposed pipe that would transport crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa and into Illinois. While the pipeline may bring economic growth to the region, it is being constructed without the consent and concern for the Native Americans that reside there.

The Dakota Pipeline, also called Bakken Oil Pipeline, is being developed by the Dakota Access, which is a branch of Energy Transfer Crude Oil. The company claims the pipeline is a positive step for the environment, as the pipeline would lessen US dependence on oil from foreign countries. The pipeline would also reduce the environmental impact from rails and trucks that are needed to transport oil.

The benefits sound great…but not so fast! The company completely brushed aside any concerns for the owners of the land the pipeline is crossing. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has filed a complaint against the federal court, claiming that the pipeline “threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe,” as discussed in the CNN. There is also concern that digging of the pipeline under the Missouri River could contaminate the Tribe’s water supply.


Hundreds have gathered at the construction site to protect sacred land. Yet, tensions between protesters and the oil company have recently turned violent, as construction continued. Some of the protesters were set upon and bitten by police dogs, as well as pepper sprayed. In response, the court has halted construction until it will make a decision on the pipeline’s fate, Friday.

It is vital that history does not repeat itself by pushing Native American’s rights aside to increase U.S economic development. We must take notice and make an active effort to ensure Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s has a right to their land.

You can show your support by attending a Rally in NYC this Friday in Washington Square Park. Or if you are not a native New Yorker you can show your support by donating to the cause.

Top photo from Children are Sacred

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