Victory At Standing Rock!

US Army Corps of Engineers denies easement for DAPL to cross beneath Lake Oahe. The water from the lake feeds into the Missouri River and is the sole water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of people who live down river. 

The power of the people wins a victory against the oligarchy! The millions of people whose drinking water was placed at risk by the planned construction of a fossil fuel pipeline in North Dakota owe a great debt of thanks to the Native American Tribes who gathered, for months, at Standing Rock as Water Protectors. These peaceful demonstrators remained despite militarized police and private security details which inflicted numerous human rights and civil rights violations against them. They weathered elements from heat to freezing temperatures, were maced, shot with rubber bullets, bean bags, tear gas,  and concussion grenades; they were attacked by private guards and police forces and vicious dogs. Hundreds of protectors were injured, including broken ribs, dog bites, broken arms, bruises and lacerations and even loss of limbs as a result of the abusive treatment they received. Despite the violence committed against them, they remained vigilant and peaceful. They took a stand against the corporations willing to discard the threats they pose to masses of people and the environment, all for profit.

The Water Protesters were largely ignored by the media until more than two thousand US Military Veterans took up the cause to protect them, arriving just days before the Army Corps of Engineers was set to evict and remove the tribes, by force if necessary. These brave women and men who have served our country valiantly, did so again, forming a human barrier between the people and the government and private forces threatening them. Is it a coincidence that the Corps of Engineers suddenly decided not to grant the easement for the pipeline to pass beneath Lake Oahe just as these veterans arrived to protect the protesters? Probably not. It is far easier to vilify dissidence perpetuated in large part by a minority population than it is to demonize war heroes. News streams of US Veterans being attacked as they protected peaceful demonstrators behind them would have brought immediate outrage across the country. Once our veterans stepped in, the media battle was lost. What is sad, however, and truly telling of how little we have evolved as a nation and people, is in how it took our veterans protecting the protesters for their cause to be respected.

While this is an enormous victory, it is far from final. The Army Corps of Engineers assistant secretary for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, said in an issued  statement,  “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternative routes for the pipeline crossing.” This sounds promising, however, shortly after the Army corps of Engineers’ announcement, Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, issued a statement calling on the President-elect, Donald Trump, to  “reject the Obama administration’s shameful actions to deny this vital energy project, restore the rule of law in the regulatory process, and make this project’s approval a top priority as he takes office in January.”

As you can see, the fight may not yet be over. Some have hope that Donald Trump will neglect his personal business investments in the DAPL and the preferences of his big money buddies in favor of doing the right thing for the people and the environment. Most do not share this optimism. The more prudent ideology is that this is a stay on the pipeline and gives some time to rest before taking additional actions to protect the masses.

Today, however, we will celebrate this victory for our Native American heritage and peoples, for all our people, our nation and our environment. For these efforts made by the sacrifices of many, we are all freer, our voices a little clearer. The war may not be over, but this was a monumental battle which will forever in history be the Victory at Standing Rock.

We are One Woman, One World.

photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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