Tribes defy North Dakota pipeline to protect waterways

By Talisa Kupenga

Indigenous tribes from across the USA and as far as Canada have come together to stop a $3.8 billion oil pipeline being run under the Missouri River. The pipeline threatens the only water source available to the nearby Standing Rock Reservation.

They call themselves protectors, not protesters and their message is loud and clear.

Executive Director of Honour the Earth Winona Laduke told Te Kāea, "The Enbridge Corporation is not a healthy corporation. They just lost a $7.9 billion pipeline project in Canada all of their permits were revoked. They just got a $177 million fine for the largest oil spill in American history. It was discovered that they purchased faulty pipes from Thailand and they do not know where the pipes are." 

More than 2500 indigenous and non-indigenous groups stand united, friend and foe, to interfere with the Dakota Access Pipeline construction meant to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. In the past month, police have arrested more than two dozen people occupying the developer's site.

"They [police] have now removed the water tanks to ensure the people have nothing to drink. They have underestimated the support for this camp we have support all around the world. There are many tribes supporting and paying for water tanks to people who continue their resistance to Enbridge."

The pipeline would lie less than two kilometres from the Northern boundary of the Standing Rock Reservation. The Missouri is the longest river in North America and is the only water source for indigenous reservations in the area.

"This is the first time the drill came to our community and in the case of my tribe we fought that company off. We stopped them here and they announced that they were going there and so I said you cannot contaminate my relatives we will go fight you there too. We are very confident our people will outlast Enbridge.”

The federal courts have postponed the hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued to prevent protesters interfering with the pipeline to September 8.

"We always stand with the Maori people to protect their land and territory there as well and we appreciate the support so anytime you want to do a Haka for us to send Embridge back to where they came from you are welcome to come to our territory we would like your help."

Pipeline construction will cease until court matters are resolved.