Why The Victory Of Standing Rock’s Water Protectors Matters

Social media solidarity, rubber bullets, climate change, protest and people power

Why The Victory Of Standing Rock’s Water Protectors Matters

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

They said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe wouldn’t and couldn't win. They said defeat was inevitable. And then, last night they were proved wrong.

After months of protests and campaigning it has been announced that the US Army Corps of Engineers will not grant a permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river or cross Lake Oahe which spans North and South Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe were resolute in their stance against the controversial oil pipeline proposals. They feared it would contaminate their water supply from the Missouri river and threaten sacred Native American lands.

High profile supporters joined the protestors, including Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley who was arrested at the site.

The activists called themselves ‘water protectors’, their slogan has been ‘water is life’. Since April, despite being unarmed themselves they have been involved in clashes with militarised policewho have reportedly fired rubber bullets, water cannons and used pepper spray on activists.

Throughout their protesting the water protectors have maintained that the initial decision to allow the pipeline to run close to the Standing Rock Sioux Native American Indian reservation was made without consulting tribal governments or conducting a study of its potential impact. This formed the basis of their argument: that the project violated federal law and long standing native treaties with the US government.

The BBC reports that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have called this an ‘historic decision’ and said that they will be ‘forever grateful’ to President Obama and his administration. The US Army Corps of Engineers will now look at alternative routes for the pipeline and conduct proper environmental impact studies.

The decision comes just in time as protestors were being ordered to clear the area by today, December 5th.

The decision is being described as a victory for people power in the face of giant corporate machines, indigenous rights and a demonstration of the the power of protest by the likes of Greenpeace.

Writing in The Nation, author of This Changes Everything Naomi Klein explains the importance of this decision both in terms of protest and climate change action. It is, she says, a ‘rare’ and ‘contagious’ victory’. ‘It shows people everywhere that organizing and resistance is not futile. And as Donald Trump moves closer and closer to the White House, that message is very important indeed.’ We can all learn how to stand up for what we believe in and fight back even when others tell us that it’s futile to do so from everyone at Standing Rock.

However, the* New York Times* warns that President-elect Donald Trump actually owns shared in the company who are building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners. He said just last week that he supported finishing the pipeline along the original route. They report that his team have not responded to their requests for comment.

**Liked this? You might also be interested in: **

This Is Why Everyone On Your Facebook Is Checking In At Standing Rock

Ask An Adult: Is Going Vegan Better For Me?

What's The Real Human Cost Of Your #CleanEating?

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us