On 7 March, a US district judge refused the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s attempt to stop oil flowing through a part of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) near their reservation.
The Sioux thought they had won on 4 December when the US army corps of engineers stopped construction of DAPL for alternative routes to be considered. Then, on 24 January, US president Donald Trump signed an executive decree ordering the secretary of the army to expedite approval of the pipeline – without a broader environmental impact assessment.
The US army corps of engineers were granted an ‘easement’ of the pipeline project which the Sioux had sought to reverse with an injunction based on the risks to the reservation’s water supply and to their sacred sites.
A new beginning
State troops and police had by that time cleared protest camps of ‘water protectors’ – after some 750 arrests during the previous year. With troops surrounding the main Oceti Sakowin camp, most campers left before the 22 February deadline. On 23 February national guard troops and police marched into the camp and forcibly removed those remaining, making dozens of arrests.
Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said: ‘Our hearts are not defeated. The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight. It is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started.’
On 10 March, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe led thousands of Native Americans through Washington DC as part of ‘Native Nations Rise’, protesting against DAPL and for indigenous rights.
At a rally, Standing Rock chair Dave Archambault II said: ‘The Standing Rock movement marks a turning point in history not only for tribes, but for every American, because the heart of our movement is now the heart of the resistance.... You stood with Standing Rock and now I ask you to stand with our Indigenous communities around the globe. Together, we rise.’
Norway’s indigenous Sami parliament successfully lobbied the country’s local authority pension fund KLP to divest from DAPL. KLP announced on 13 March it would sell $58 million worth of shares in companies involved in the pipeline.
On 20 March, ING, a global financial institution based in Amsterdam, announced it had sold off its $120m share of DAPL loan debt. ING had previously sold all shares it had in the DAPL parent companies.