Protests about the North Dakota pipeline have been going on for more than 6 months now, with recent reports like "Police fire water cannon at Dakota pipeline protesters in freezing weather" and ugly associated video footage becoming more common. Yale Environment 360 has a look at what has been happening - At Standing Rock, A Battle Over Fossil Fuels and Land.
For more than eight months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been leading a protest to stop an oil pipeline from crossing near its land and potentially threatening its drinking water and sacred sites. In many ways, the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil some 1,200 miles daily, is a traditional fight over Native American land rights. But as indigenous environmental justice expert Kyle Powys Whyte sees it, the demonstration also points to the important role tribes have played in opposing fossil fuel energy projects in recent years, from the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. to the Northern Gateway pipeline in Canada.
“Almost everywhere you go, tribes have taken direct action to protect their health and their cultures and their economies from the threats, as well as the false promises of, extractive industries,” says Powys Whyte, an associate professor at Michigan State University who studies climate policy and indigenous peoples and is a member of the Potawatomi Nation.
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Powys Whyte talks about the long history of coal and oil and gas development on native lands, the longstanding divisions within indigenous communities over allowing such projects, and why the Standing Rock protest has become a lightning rod for opposition to fossil fuels.