Land of the free, home of the Sioux

By Shawna Daly
Special to The Communitarian

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is unearthing the ageold question of oil and water. It has been referred to as the “black snake,” burrowing through sacred land and brushing alongside Cannonball, N.D. where the Mississippi River meets the Standing Rock Reservation. The Sioux [soo] people want to protect their homeland and their surrounding hunting ground.

The placement of the pipeline is the foremost concern during early planning stages of the DAPL, and the historical and cultural legitimacy of the sacred land seems a good place to start. Experts say there has been no deliberation regarding the impact of the pipeline on the Sioux people.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, offered this statement regarding the DAPL in August: “Our basic position is that the Corps of Engineers has failed to follow the law and has failed to consider the impacts of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”

The Natural Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assures that all branches of government give proper consideration prior to undertaking any major federal action that significantly affects the environment. Because of this, the proposed pipeline route currently undergoes inspection.

Determining the cultural significance of an area is a threestep process: pre-field research studies, a review of historical literature, and relevant resources to determine points of interest for inspection.

Next, the reconnaissance inventory finds areas with high cultural resource concentration.

Lastly, an intensive cultural resource inventory is conducted by historians, archaeologists, and other specialists in search for artifacts.

“The [Iowa] Chapter is disappointed that the permit fails to require Dakota Access to complete an environmental and archaeological study,” the Sierra Club reported.

The tribe filed a court complaint in the case of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to officiate a temporary restraining order.

The case argues, “The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, 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.”

Since the start of the peaceful protests, spiritual sanctuaries, burial grounds, ancient cairns and stone prayer rings have been bulldozed over, the tribe claims. An oil spill would further devastate the cherished landscape.

Evaluation of the Clean Water Act was cited in the court complaint as a legal and ethical deterrent against the pipeline. Specifically, any discharge of pollutants such as dredged material is not permitted in U.S. waters to protect biological integrity. Permits for construction near watersheds are administered in the case that they,  “will cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and will have only minimal cumulative adverse effect on the environment.”

Even if the DAPL doesn’t directly impose on the Standing Rock Reservation, the resounding effects of an oil spill would indefinitely impact the sacred landscape.

America has more than twomillion miles of pipeline for the transport of oil and petroleum, according to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company (ETCO) is head of operations for the pipeline. Their mission statement claims to move oil in a “…cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner,” and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) believes pipelines to be the safest means of resource transport.

Yet DOT admits that unintentional release of hazardous liquid from the pipeline can, “… impact surrounding populations, property, and the environment, and may result in injuries or fatalities as well as property and environmental damage, impact wildlife, or contaminate drinking water supplies… and have significant economic effects such as: business interruptions; damaged infrastructure; and interruption in the supplies of fuel such as natural gas, gasoline, home heating oil, etc.”

DAPL’s projected costs amount to $3.8 billion, according to ETCO. Since 1996, the company has had 11,199 reported incidents, 360 fatalities, and spent $6.8 billion in incident related costs.

Concerned readers can sign the petition at standwithstandingrock. net to take a stand against DAPL. Visit instagram. com for more information. #Standwithstandingrock #NoDAPL

Contact Shawna Daily at

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