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Standing Rock Fight Continues as Pipeline Company Refuses Government Order

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The headlines coming from major news outlets are misleading. Although many were quick to jump for celebration, the fight has only temporarily been slowed down but is far from over. Hundreds of vets battle the winter storms to peacefully march toward the front lines and through the Standing Rock camp in solidarity and protection. 

standing rock live protest

Activist December 5th, 2016.  Photo David Sikorski

On Sunday, December 4, the Army Corp of Engineers, a federal agency branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, issued a statement denying the final easement and permit from federal authorities to finish the current Dakota Access Pipeline. This order was also released the similar day that a caravan of over 2,000 veterans (with an additional group of veterans arriving independently of around 1,000) came to stand in solidarity and protection for the rights of the people at Standing Rock. BUT, the news was met with reserved celebration from the peaceful gatherers currently at Standing Rock. Although, many rejoiced for what was an incredibly delayed response from the Obama administration that has allowed weeks of inhumane treatment of indigenous people by militarized police (from which multiple lawsuits are currently pending against the use of tear gas, concussion grenades, water cannons, rubber bullets and more on unarmed water protectors), many understand that the delay will only complicate things for the Dakota Access group who have no intention of stopping. As major news outlets jumped to push out articles with headlines reading “Victory” or “Won,” they hadn’t taken the time to wait for this morning’s rebuttal from the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.

This morning, Energy Transfer Partners issued an official press release stating, “As stated all along, [Energy Transfer Partners] and [Sunoco Logistics Partners] are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe, nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”

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The repercussions for the continuation of the pipeline can go anywhere from a trespassing arrest to a simple fine. The government, in a publicly strategic move, has now distanced themselves from being grouped in with the bad guys and finally taken side with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and it’s water protectors. This is certainly a step in a positive direction but the indigenous Sioux are still not allowed to occupy the land surrounding the pipeline that was originally promised to them during the Treaty of 1851. Since the news broke, people here at camp are still prevented from crossing the major front line bridge that once separated the police and the water protectors. A mutual “stand down” was put into act but means nothing more than that the police can go home and the state will temporarily no longer need to pay for the patrol but the natives are still not allowed to cross and need to stay by their tents. Do your best to understand that.

As of right now, the camp is still in full effect working hard and hunkering down to build winterized structures to keep the children, families, elderly and veterans out of the subzero temperatures during the coming winter months. The original contract for the construction of the pipeline does not expire until January 1st, so people will be working hard to peacefully delay the construction as much as possible. After that, there will be a continued fight as president-elect Trump has publicly shared his support for the pipeline, from which he has a personal investment in.

The announcement from the Army Corp of Engineers is still a step in the right direction but the fight continues and we need to build on this momentum. People from around the world are still pouring in to assist in building wood shelters, cooking, handing out donations, joining in prayer and doing whatever is needed. All are welcome. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT AND DONATIONS AS THEY ARE STILL NEEDED!

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David Sikorski

David Sikorski

San Francisco-based writer covering culture, music and everything this beautiful world has to offer. And yes, I am the guy that got engaged to a burrito.