With rallies, marches, and acts of civil disobedience taking place in all 50 states and beyond, organizers called the day of action and the movement that inspired it “one of the most courageous stands against a fossil fuel project this country has ever seen.”
In the U.S., many of the actions are taking place at Army Corps of Engineers offices. On Monday, the Army announced it had completed its review of an easement that would allow the pipeline to cross the Missouri River, and “determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property.”
The Army called for further talks with the Standing Rock Sioux over how potential pipeline spills and ruptures could impact the tribe’s water supplies.
“While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement,” the statement read.
Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault III acknowledged that while the decision “was not 100 percent what the tribe had hoped for,” it suggested the Obama administration has heard the outcry from Indigenous water protectors and their allies.
“We are encouraged and know that the peaceful prayer and demonstration at Standing Rock have powerfully brought to light the unjust narrative suffered by tribal nations and Native Americans across the country,” Archambault said.
But others had a harsher response.
“There are communities going underwater from rising seas,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth. “Cancer clusters, destruction of sacred places. Indigenous people being attacked by dogs, maced, shot with rubber bullets. Climate change is happening now. Dakota Access is bulldozing burial grounds and hurting water protectors now. The delays and noncommittal statements from the Obama administration are disappointing to say the least. We want answers. Conduct an Environmental Impact Statement. Halt the construction of this destructive project.”
Added Sacred Stone Camp spokeswoman LaDonna Bravebull Allard: “We do not negotiate. We cannot negotiate the safety of the water, and we will not negotiate. We will stand, and continue to stand until every pipe is out of the ground. As our leaders come together, they need to understand that the people’s voice comes first.”
Furthermore, the decision and day of action come in the context of Trump’s upset victory, and its implications not only for DAPL itself but for the fossil fuel industry as a whole as well as for freedom of expression and the right to protest.
“President-elect Trump has no regard for the environment and cares even less about those of us trying to protect it,” said Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes and organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, on Monday.
Indeed, participants in Tuesday’s actions acknowledged in a frank statement: “[W]e don’t know what the effect of our protest will be.”
“We need the Obama administration to act, and act decisively—not to simply run out the clock on their responsibilities,” said movement leaders in a call-to-action. “Even if he does so, his successor may undo his work and grant the permit. But many things may happen after January 20, and we had best get in the practice of resistance, or at least of bearing witness.”