Student groups laud decision to reroute Dakota Access Pipeline

Sunday, December 4, 2016 - 7:42pm

The United States Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday it will not approve construction plans on the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing under a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

This decision comes after thousands of demonstrators from across the country spent months camping on the reservation in protest of the pipeline’s potential damage to the tribe’s water supply, including University of Michigan students. The alternative route for the 1,172-mile pipeline has not yet been determined, but protesters on the reservation celebrated the decision Sunday.

Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, released a statement Sunday thanking the Army, the Department of Justice and President Barack Obama’s administration for the “historic decision.”

“We are deeply appreciative that the Obama Administration took the time and effort to genuinely consider the broad spectrum of tribal concerns,” the statement read. “In a system that has continuously been stacked against us from every angle, it took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful.”

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said in a statement the Army released Sunday she had heard tribal leaders’ concerns and decided other route options needed to be explored.

“It’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

Though many are celebrating the decision, in recent months, politicians from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to President-elect Donald Trump have supported the DAPL plan and criticized protesters for what they characterized as trespassing on federal property.

Multiple groups at the University of Michigan have organized in support of the Sioux tribe — the Native American Student Association and Students4Justice both started fundraisers to send supplies to protesters at the camp.

Sandra Momper, social work associate professor, visited the reservation earlier in November to deliver donations from social work faculty. In an email interview with the Daily, Momper hailed Sunday’s decision as a “victory” for all Americans.

“I am overjoyed that the non-violent ‘water protectors’, both Native and Native allies, have won a victory to save sacred lands and the water,” she wrote. “(I) hope that in the future our efforts to protect and preserve Mother Earth will be just as successful.”