“Our hearts are full, this an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation,” tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “Our voices have been heard.”
The tribe had sued the Army Corps of Engineers after its approval of the pipeline’s route, citing concerns that sacred sites and water would be at risk of irreparable harm. In addition to litigation, members of the tribe have been joined by thousands of Native activists since April in a powerful show of solidarity, occupying the pipeline’s site and staging waves of nonviolent action.
At a solidarity rally in San Francisco, I met Indigenous Mindanao activists fighting for their rights in the Philippines, who read a statement of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. And they weren’t alone – that day, the Sarayaku of Ecuador, the Navajo from Arizona, and the Pomo from California were also represented – by last week over 200 Indigenous tribes had spoken in solidarity with the Sioux.
That global organizing extended to Laos, where an activist asked President Obama during his Southeast Asian trip last week what he could do to protect Native rights against the oil pipeline. The UN Standing Forum on Indigenous Peoples ruled that the US was in violation of the treaty by approving the pipeline. And the tribe’s own lawsuit charged that the US was in violation of its own laws by failing to adequately consult the tribe.
Even as the court ruled against the tribe, the US Government clearly saw the flaws in the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The joint statement continues by highlighting the need for a discussion about reforming the government’s approach to tribes around large scale infrastructure projects. These are encouraging words in 2016 as we confont a dramatic surge in oil and gas pipeline, rail, manufacturing and export proposals.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind Dakota Access, is also proposing to build the Trans Pecos Pipeline to ship Texas natural gas to Mexico, a matrix of cryogenic and fractionation plants in western Pennsylvania, and the Mariner East Pipeline system to bring natural gas liquids to from the Marcellus Shale to coastal chemical plants and export.
Congratulations to the Standing Rock Sioux for standing strong against oil and for inspiring a global movement against fossil fuels. It’s high time that we stop expanding this industry and hasten our transition towards energy that doesn’t threaten our future.