Now that Donald Trump has been elected, it is time to face the truth about the outcome of the Dakota Access Pipeline. North Dakota is the second-largest domestic oil producer in the United States. Trump backs measures to upgrade United States oil and gas infrastructure and won the state of North Dakota by a wide margin.
Currently, 85 percent of the DAPL has been built. The only part that remains is the section planned to be built under the Missouri River. This past Friday, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfers Partners, the Dallas-based construction company in charge of building the DAPL, stated that the incoming Donald Trump administration is “100 percent sure” the pipeline will be approved. This year, Warren donated $103,000 to the Trump campaign.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R–N.D.) is a proponent of the pipeline and serves as one of Trump’s agricultural advisers. He activated the North Dakota National Guard to deal with the protests, which currently has a traffic checkpoint a few miles south of the main protest encampment. Though the president-elect has yet to comment on the pipeline, his campaign financial disclosure forms reveal that he has a financial interest in its completion. He has reportedly invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners.
The #NODAPL movement in Standing Rock, N.D., is a place that has stood in direct opposition to environmental devastation, as well as spiritual and cultural genocide. The $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, a black snake of fracked Bakken crude oil, is planned to travel under the Missouri River and rip through the sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It is not a question of if, but when, it will burst, destroying one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater and spilling 500,000 gallons of toxic sludge into what is currently drinking water for people of the Standing Rock tribe and communities in South Dakota.
Enbridge Energy Company, which has the largest ownership stake in the Bakken Pipeline — which includes the DAPL — at nearly 30 percent, is responsible for many U.S. pipelines, including Michigan’s own aging and crumbling Line 5 that transports tar sands crude oil under the Straits of Mackinac. We cannot forget Enbridge’s Line 6B that burst and contaminated the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, one of the severest and costliest oil spills in U.S. history.
The construction and inevitable spills of pipelines in recent years have not only wreaked environmental havoc, but continue the 500-year genocide that threatens to extinguish the natural way of life that indigenous people know to be a familial and inseparable connection with all of Earth.
From the occupation of a prayer camp called Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí — the Sacred Stone Camp — established in April of 2016 by LaDonna Bravebull Allard of the Standing Rock tribe, the #NODAPL movement has tremendously expanded to become many camps. The camps continue to grow daily — as a gathering of water protectors from hundreds of tribal nations and countries standing in solidarity against the pipeline.
The message that has drawn people to come together in resistance and communal prayer is the knowledge that water is life. And it is the inarguable attack upon life that has caused the water protectors to react in nonviolent direct action against Dakota Access.
Water protectors literally stand and live in the path set for the Dakota Access Pipeline, blocking construction with their bodies. Law enforcement departments from five states and the National Guard have been called in to intimidate, attack, arrest and forcibly remove protectors with riot gear and military tanks. County, state and federal government officials have failed to condemn these acts of excessive force, choosing instead to side with corporate interests.
On our campus, an interdisciplinary group of students has come together to spread awareness at the University of Michigan about the DAPL. We have written a comprehensive and educational zine to explain the background and timeline of the Standing Rock Sioux, the cultural significance of the water, the legal challenges at play and the importance of the current resistance. We hope this publication serves to provide critical information about the resistance at Standing Rock so you can best be of service and navigate your role as an ally to the indigenous people on the frontlines.
The #NODAPL movement of Standing Rock continues to stay strong in the face of these injustices through prayer that roots protectors in love and healing. As the inauguration approaches, Dakota Access will push harder to put the pipeline through at all costs. Now more than ever we need a strong coalition of water protectors, allies working in solidarity and decisive action from the Obama administration to reroute the Dakota Access Pipeline and defend indigenous rights.
This Friday, Nov. 18, there will be a zine-release fundraising event for Standing Rock in North Quadrangle Space 2435 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be free food, zines, audio interviews and information about the moon dance ceremony, as well as a visual gallery of the occupation in Standing Rock, N.D., and a drum circle. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noor Ahmad is an LSA senior and Zach Kolodziej is an Art & Design senior.