• Taylor Piotrowski

Standing Rock is Standing Their Ground

“Election night changed everything”

Stated Matthew Ramsey, the COO of Energy Transfer Partners in leaked audio during a recent meeting about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"We're going through a transition where we will have a new President of the United States. And he gets it. We fully expect as soon as he is inaugurated his team is going to move to get the final approvals done and DAPL will cross the lake."

Shaun King, a New York Daily News writer has uploaded an audio recording onto his sound cloud of a speech in which a man’s voice, identified as Matthew Ramsey, has spoken up about the future of the DAPL (The Dakota Access Pipeline).

According to the audio, Ramsey believes that upon approval the pipeline’s construction will only take about 65 days to cross Lake Oahe. This is a devastating announcement for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and the 80 other Native American tribes who came to support the protest and stand against the government's continued mistreatment of Native Americans. Along with thousands of environmentalists, ranchers, farmers and celebrity activists the protesters have stood their ground for months on end.

“This has been quite a fight here on [Dakota Access],” Ramsey said. “So let me just tell you, make no mistake about it, this pipeline is going through. It's going through exactly where we have planned.”

Ramsey’s speech was said to have been recorded the morning of the most recent spill of about 3,000 barrels of oil into the waters of the Ash Coulee Creek. Waters which are located 18 miles from drinking and water sources in the Missouri River, said Bill Seuss, the program manager for the Dakota Department of Health, and 150 miles from the pipeline protest on Energy Transfer Partners land.

This spill is the most recent confirmation of the protestors’ fears concerning water contamination, which the DAPL project of 1,172 miles of pipeline through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois would threaten.

“Mni Wiconi”

Following months of protest, the DAPL issue was finally brought to mainstream media’s attention after September 3rd 2016 when the local police force unleashed vicious dogs and pepper sprayed nearly 100 unarmed Native Americans and advocates, who peacefully chanted “water is life” or “Mni Wiconi” in The Standing Sioux Tribes’ language. Six people were bitten, one being a small child, but it was only after this horrifying attack that the world finally took notice of the protest’s magnitude (Hurn).

On October 22nd , a prayer circle was ambushed and peaceful protestors were arrested, taken to the local kennels and processed into jail where they stayed for three days (Hurn). This being one of the many instances of arrests during a period when the local police were the most actively engaged and conducted about 141 arrests a day. The terror began to subside once the media’s coverage aired around the world and people finally became aware of and stood up against DAPL to protect the sacred native waters.

DAPL’s original plans intended to cross ancestors’ land with historical and cultural significance, which went through the Lake Oahe river, about a half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation. This being one of the many actions against Indigenous rights and, according to the Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, they have been continuously exploited and taken advantage of by the federal government for years. Archambault says the tribe repeatedly pays the price when there is a national benefit such as energy independence or economic development, and he, along with his fellow natives, will not stand for such ill-treatment any longer. Continued construction of DAPL would threaten sacred waters, fuel climate change and respectively undercut the U.S’s standing as a leader in global climate change action.

Fortunately, on December 4th 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with thousands of peaceful protestors, experienced a major victory when the Army Corps of Engineers granted a halt to the construction of DAPL. A decision announced by the assistant secretary for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, as “a need to explore alternate routes” for the crossing.

This was an act headed by the Obama administration wherein “The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful… for this historic decision” Archambault announces.

Nevertheless, the months of sleeping in tents, tepees, cooking in open air, fighting hypothermia and organizing on-site daycares and medical centers may not pay off when President Elect Donald Trump enters the White house.

“We support” the construction of the pipeline “and we will review the situation when we are in the White House to make the appropriate determination at the time” reported Trump’s transition team spokesperson Jason Miller.

Trump has been a public supporter of the oil and natural gas industries and has alluded to his plans to reverse the Obama administration’s derail of DAPL. Trump’s support is motivated by the positive impact DAPL would have on the American economy, and is levied by his personal and financial investment in the pipeline. In fact, Trump is associated with two of the pipeline companies owning an approximated $500,000 to $1 million of the Energy Transfer Partners, LP stocks, which have earned him a high of $50,000 in 2015, along with the $100,000 to $250,000 he owns in Phillips 66.

In light of the Trump Presidency, the Standing Rock Tribe, along with thousands of protesters, have voiced caution concerning the pipelines appeal and will remain on site, continuing their stance against the DAPL until the drill is indefinitely shut off.

“We’ve been lied to and deceived this whole time” says Archambault, who continues to insist that “Everybody needs to stay in place” and not give up.

Trump stated in a Fox News exclusive interview that if a solution to the Dakota Pipeline fails to be confirmed by the time he’s in office a decision is going to be made by his administration “fairly quickly.” Yet, he fails to identify his exact plans regarding the project.

Trump’s goal of improving the U.S.’s economy has been documented throughout his campaign trail. The pipeline would be a major advancement for more efficient daily transport of about 470,000 barrels of crude-oil to the Midwest and Gulf coast markets, increasing production, employment and America’s global economic standing.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers stated in support of the pipeline’s construction that “Our challenge is getting that [crude oil] energy to the world and the only way we can do that is through more energy infrastructure, such as pipelines, which will enable us to deliver oil and natural gas to more customers at home and abroad” according to Tim McMillan, the chief executive officer.

The change in Presidency will continue to threaten the sacred waters of Lake Oahe. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their advocates will stand their ground and continue to peacefully protest. However, all protestors can do now is continue to pray that the Trump administration will respect Obama’s decision to halt the project and consider an alternative route for the Pipeline.

“Water is life” or “Mni Wiconi” will continue to be the chants of protestors echoing throughout the Energy Transfer Partners land, even in the most frigid of winter temperatures.



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