Dakota Access Pipeline rerouting shows power of protest



Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at Grand Central Station in solidarity with the indigenous and non-indigenous allies who are on the front lines in North Dakota fighting the construction of the 3.8 billion dollar Dakota Access Pipeline on Nov. 1 in New York City.

By Andrea Anastassov, Columnist

After months of protesting at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Native Americans and their many supporters have gained a victory in their protests against the Dakota pipeline.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this past Sunday that the Dakota Access Pipeline will be rerouted to avoid running under a major lake near reservation sites.

Protests began in early August, opposing the pipeline due to the fear of damage to local water supplies and the desecration of sacred land. The pipeline was set to run near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and would put their local water supply in danger — the 1,172-mile long pipeline was set to carry 20 million gallons of water every day.

It has been a long road and a tough fight for protesters who were ordered to leave sites and arrested on the spot. What began as a fight for Native Americans gained the support of thousands, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Upon the news of alternate routes being explored for the pipeline Sanders tweeted: “In 2016, we should not continue to trample on Native American sovereignty. And we should not become more dependent on fossil fuels.”

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Not only is this statement accurate, but it is exactly the mindset that America needs to adopt regarding environmental issues.

While the Dakota pipeline may have seemed like  the most efficient route, the land that  the company constructing this pipeline wanted to use is actually sacred and holds emotional and spiritual importance to a large group of people. Not understanding or respecting this viewpoint is ignorant and wrong.

One problem with the way that environmental issues are tackled in this country is that there is one dominant view that drives decisions regarding land, and the government holds the power to make or not make changes in legislature that could be beneficial to the environment.

This country is not made up of just one group of people or one viewpoint; we are a melting pot, and every view should be respected and heard. While this seems nearly impossible given so many different viewpoints and the fact that arguments could go on indefinitely, it is only right that every ethnic group has equal opportunity and say in the land that is rightfully theirs.

While the pipeline may have been technically legal, the work of the many caring protesters convinced the powers that be that it was just not right. These people have strong ties to this land and there is a significant religious and spiritual importance to the land itself.

We cannot keep on disrespecting other religions or groups of people, making it seem like their viewpoint on the land is lesser than the dominant ideology.

Each viewpoint should be heard and respected, and it is encouraging to see that in the case of the pipeline the correct choice was made. It was a hard-earned victory, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Andrea is a freshman in Media.

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