Tensions are rising after North Dakota’s governor issued an order demanding that water protectors evacuate the Oceti Sakowin camp by Feb. 22. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has protested construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for well over a year, joined by thousands of supporters, including military veterans.
The DAPL violates Indigenous sovereignty and Native land and water rights. Oil leakage from the pipeline threatens to pollute the water supply relied on by up to 18 million people.
The pro-Big Oil Trump administration approved resumption of the pipeline’s construction, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the easement permitting Energy Transfer Partners to do so.
A statement from Gov. Doug Burgum’s office argues that rapid snowmelt in the area is creating a risk of flooding that is dangerous to activists and could lead to pollution if waste from the camps is pulled into the river.
This isn’t the first time the state has cited dangerous weather conditions as a reason for evacuation. Back in November, the state expressed concern about activists’ safety in the freezing winter temperatures. Of course, that didn’t stop the state from using water cannons to violently remove activists.
The concern about pollution is an added irony, given the state’s continued attempts to drill an environmentally destructive oil pipeline under Lake Oahe.
The water protectors have refused to move and have begun a systematic camp cleanup in an effort to appease officials.
Meanwhile, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has a hearing set for Feb. 28 to continue the fight through the courts. Activists across the country are also continuing their solidarity and demanding divestment from the pipeline. They have met some success, notably in Seattle, where the city broke ties with Wells Fargo for offering financial support to the pipeline. Now, 120 investors, whose combined assets amount to $653 billion, are feeling the pressure and have urged banks to support rerouting the pipeline.
A call by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders has also been made for a march on Washington, D.C., this March 10. More than an action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the march will be an act of solidarity with all Indigenous peoples and a stand to protect Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth).
As of right now, the march has three demands, as found on standwithstandingrock.net:
“#TakeTheMeeting // President Trump must meet with tribal leaders to hear why it’s critical that the U.S. government respect tribal rights. This administration must work with us.
“#ConsentNotConsultation // Tribal interests cannot continue to be marginalized in favor of the interests of corporations and other governments. Consultation is not enough — we must require consent.
“#NativeNationsRise // The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe. It has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.”
Local actions will also be planned for those who cannot go to Washington.
Workers World Party stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and supports the self-determination of Indigenous peoples everywhere. We look forward to rising in solidarity this March.