Standing Rock The water protectors

For more than six months thousands of people, mostly indigenous Americans, have been fighting against the construction of a massive pipeline, which is building to transfer 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. The “Dakota Access Pipeline” is a 3.8 billion dollars, 1.100 miles fracked oil pipeline which is slated to cross Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nation

On December 4th, the US Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the federal land where the main protest camp is located, announced that it would not grant an easement to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. Instead, the Corps will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for alternate routes.

This was a huge victory for the peaceful protesters who have been standing against robber bullets, heavy armed police forces, security guards with dogs attacking them and water canons spraying them in subfreezing temperatures, only to protect the quality of the water for their communities and Standing Rock Sioux sacred grounds, including a Sioux burial site. Up to 20 million people need fresh water covered from resources in that area and these resources are going to be endangered by the fracking activity in the Bakken shale fields as well as by the construction of the pipeline which would be laid underneath Missouri River, the longest river on the continent.

The Oceti Sakowin camp
A water protector is riding his horse at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, ND

However, despite the historic decision made by the US Army Corp of Engineers, the feelings among the water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp were mixed. Most of them were happy that the long and rough fight against the pipeline’s construction brought the desired result. Nevertheless, many of them were cautious, saying that the government “fooled” them many times in the past and they don’t trust it anymore. Moreover, some of the protesters were sad because after this “victory”, they had to leave the camp area which they thoroughly enjoyed its feeling and atmosphere.

Richie from California chopping wood at the Oceti Sakowin camp

Regardless of the mixed feelings, all the protesters agreed on one thing; nothing is over. The Standing Rock “Uprising” was a wake up call for the American people. It was a huge step toward the fight against corporate greed and environmental protection as well as the beginning of more struggles they are about to encounter all over the country.

The inside of a tipi at the Oceti Sakowin camp

More photos can be seen here: http://dimitriosmanis.com/p810422999

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