Standing Rock Sioux have called for a last stand after the U.S Army Corps of Engineers signalled its intention to grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing drilling under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River.
Responding to Trump administration executive orders to both speed up energy infrastructure projects and limit environmental impact studies, the Army Corps of Engineers has moved quickly to reverse its prior decision to seek compromise on the project and is now pushing for it to go ahead as quickly as possible.
“The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk,” says Standing Rock Sioux chairman, Dave Archambault in a statement, “We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.”
The Army Corps also indicated that a customary 14-day waiting period would not be enforced, allowing Energy Transfer Partners to begin drilling to complete its US$3.8 billion project immediately.
In response, the Standing Rock Sioux have called for water protectors and their allies to march on Washington on the 10th of March and to protest at US state capitols.
Many water protectors have vowed to continue direct action at the site of the drilling. However, the Standing Rock Sioux have indicated that they are focusing on a legal battle- specifically with regard to the reinstatement of the environmental impact study.
In comments to Democracy Now, Archambault decried the federal flip-flopping the new administration had wrought on the process.
“For the federal government to say, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and then come back and say, ‘We’re not going to do this because of Donald Trump’—and Donald Trump has been—he’s a puppet. I would say he’s a puppet, because [billionaire investors] the Koch brothers are running this country now,” says Archambault.
“They feed all of Congress—not all, the majority of Congress. And this president is taking direction from corporate America.”
Archambault sees the Trump administration’s actions as part of a wider attack on civil and indigenous rights which run counter to its economic aims.
“I think this march is very important,” says Archambault, “Because I believe that Donald Trump is going to start attacking all of our rights, all of our treaty rights…We’re going to have to start battling for our law enforcement, our education, our healthcare. All of these things are going to be under attack.
“So, having this march is building awareness for this nation that our indigenous people are still here, and we’re not going anywhere, and we’re going to be here. And we are the first occupants of these lands.”