|Photo by Thane Maxwell|
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a planned 1,172-mile oil pipeline, with an expected capacity of 500,000 barrels of oil per day. The pipeline would originate in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and terminate in Pakota, Illinois. For frequently asked questions on case litigation, please refer HERE.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River just one mile north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, home to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The proximity of this pipeline to the Missouri River could threaten the Sioux people’s access to clean water, and in April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux initiated a protest effort to protect this international human right.
Tribal leaders also argue that the pipeline infringes upon their sacred burial grounds, and in July, the Reservation sued the Army Corps of Engineers over their failure to conduct meaningful consultation and to adhere to environmental and historical protection regulations. While the judge ruled against the Sioux’s request on September 9th, 2016, on this same day, the Army Corps of Engineers, with the support of the Departments of Justice and Interior, halted the pipeline’s construction near key tribal lands until they could fully review the permits granted for construction. On February 8, the Army Corps granted the final easement to complete construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and construction is moving forward.
Since April, 2016 a growing popular movement lead by indigenous people has formed at the site of pipeline construction. As of mid-September, thousands of native and non native protestors have demonstrated support at the protest camps, and an unprecedented 180 tribal nations have sent letters of solidarity. These camps are being monitored by the National Guard, and private security companies have attacked some protestors with dogs, among whom number women and children. There are between 200 and 300 people currently residing in the camps and North Dakota Governor Burgam has issued an evacuation order to be enacted on February 22nd.
Our Stake As Presbyterians:
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting in Portland, Oregon in June, passed two overtures which effect the 95 Native American Presbyterian churches across the country.
· An apology to Native American’s for the church’s involvement and administration of boarding schools during the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose purpose was the “civilization” of Native American children.
· A repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery: this “doctrine” derives its authority from Pope’s and European royal decrees stating “explorers” may seize lands and convert “non-Christians” in their name and for the good of the Christian Church. It remains the basis, as late as 2005, for Indian Law and Supreme Court decisions against Tribes.
Strong support for the land defense effort by the Standing Rock Sioux is one step in making good on the apology and towards right relationship with Native people.
The 207th General Assembly (1995) addressed the issue of environmental racism in the Hazardous Waste, Race, and the Environment statement.
What can you do?
a. defund banks that support the DAPL. Close your accounts and encourage all organizations, governments and colleges you are associated with to do the same. A list of these can be found HERE along with a guide and support to closing your account.
b. Donate money to: Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Cliff Drive, Eagan, MN 5512. Payable to: Synod of Lakes and Prairies; note: Dakota Access Pipeline Acct #2087, to help defend those who have been arrested and to fight in court the easement granted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
c. March IN Solidarity in DC and other cities to support our Indigenous brothers and sisters against theDAPL on March 10.
d. PRAY for those at Standing Rock and pray that God’s justice will prevail with the DAPL. Many thanks to Carolyn Winfrey Gillette who wrote new hymns to be sung in solidarity with water protectors. They can be found HERE.
e. SPEAK OUT REPEATEDLY to government officials, especially your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Call Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Committee on Indian Affairs and other members of the committee. Congress.gov has contact information for legislators as well as pending bills and other legislative information and activities.
f. Stay informed. Know the facts. Keep your contacts informed through social media. Helpful accounts to follow are
Thanks to Irvin Porter, Elona Street-Stewart, Mark Koenig, and Gary Payton and Presbyterians for Earth Care for their contributions to this guide.