Cultural Connection

Standing Rock: We Will Not Back Down

Miranda Martinez , Cactus Writer

Water protectors at Standing Rock, who have fought construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, were surrounded by militarized police forces. They faced an evacuation order that the state of North Dakota and Army Corps of Engineers enforced on the afternoon on February 22nd, 2017. However the water protectors were on treaty territory, and the raid violated their treaty rights. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set a deadline for the camp to be cleared, citing the threat of spring flooding. Many of the protesters planned to go peacefully, but authorities were prepared to arrest others who said they would defy the deadline in a final show of dissent. Some of the last remnants of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp went up in flames that Wednesday as opponents of the project set fire to makeshift wooden housing.

About 150 people marched arm-in-arm out of the camp, singing and playing drums as they walked down a highway. It was not clear where they were headed. One man carried an American flag hung upside-down. Many of the people who were staying at the camps moved to private land to continue this fight without the fear of another fire threatening their safety. The move to use force to remove indigenous people from this treaty land is the latest chapter in the history of the United States’ cruel colonialism to take land from the original owners. However, this betrayal upon tribal treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. government. There are some senators who are in opposition.

Part of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River tribes’ efforts is to halt drilling under Lake Oahe. It was suspended by the Trump administration to quash the legal analysis done by the department before Trump was inaugurated. Yet, after his inauguration, President Trump has signed off on the continuation of the drilling for the pipeline. Trump’s approval of both pipelines is an early sign of how his administration will take a drastically different approach to environmental issues. Beyond approving the pipelines, Trump has also vowed to slash environmental protection regulations and has nominated several skeptics of the overwhelming scientific proof of climate change, these skeptics are going to be key Cabinet speakers dealing with environmental issues. This is a tragedy not only for those at Standing Rock but for all who know that our environment should come before all else.