How You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux from Afar


Stands with Standing Rock! Peaceful March & Rally in Seattle, WA. [Image Credit: Wikimedia/John Duffy]

VICTORY CHEERS rang out across the U.S. on Sunday, as the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not grant the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) permission to drill under the Missouri River. For the Standing Rock Sioux — whose reservation is located less than one mile from the proposed crossing of the DAPL and Lake Oahe, and who have remained on-site in peaceful protest of the oil installation for months — the announcement was an achievement worthy of celebration.

As Sacred Stone Camp notes, the battle for clean water is far from over. The announcement stated that “[t]he Department of the Army w[ould] not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe,” and Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, indicated the Corps would use an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to “explore alternate routes” for the DAPL, but the companies behind the pipeline were undeterred. Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners released an official response, which read, in part:

The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.

As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way. [emphasis ours]

Before the Army Corps denied the DAPL easement, organizers called for each day in December to be a day of #NoDAPL action. In the wake of Sunday’s victory, that has not changed. The Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth says, “This is a victory for organizing, and it doesn’t stop now. We are asking our supporters to keep up the pressure, because while President Obama has granted us a victory today, that victory isn’t guaranteed in the next administration.”

And so, the Standing Rock Sioux will continue to protest peacefully against the DAPL in the coming weeks and months. Water protectors fear that the Army Corps’ announcement might create the opportunity for a bait-and-switch — lulling indigenous communities into a false sense of security, only to plow ahead into Lake Oahe.

Not everyone is welcome to stay at the protest site, however. Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II asked non-Sioux protesters to leave the encampments, assuring them that “[n]othing will happen this winter.” Archambault may be correct to say that his tribe’s water supply would be safe in the immediate future, but he likely has another motive for asking non-Sioux to leave Standing Rock. Recent months saw an influx of white visitors, who attempted to colonize the site by “treating it like it is Burning Man.”

Non-indigenous people can — and should — help native water protectors. It is vital that activists do not rest on their laurels, but continue to focus on how the DAPL project is developing, until it is certain that the war for clean water in the U.S. has been won. But remember: good activism begins with listening. Archambault has told us what his tribe needs, and it is our duty to respect their wishes.

Here are three easy ways for you to help the Standing Rock Sioux from afar.

1. Continue to spread the word about developments at Standing Rock

It’s likely that #NoDAPL will disappear from your news feed soon, just as the Flint water crisis did. Don’t let that happen. Follow these Facebook pages for consistent and accurate updates:

2. Send winter donations to water protector camps

Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone Camp make their updated supply lists publicly available online. As a general rule, monetary donations are more useful than supplies to movements and organizations, because they are more malleable. The water protectors can stretch your dollar much, much further than you can, believe me.

Oceti Sakowin can only accept monetary donations by mail, and supplies must be delivered directly to the site. Sacred Stone Camp accepts both financial and material contributions by post.

3. Be prepared to fight the next administration for clean water

Donald Trump owns stock in ETP and Phillips 66: the constructor and quarter-owner of DAPL. Spokesman Jason Miller says the incoming administration “support[s] construction of” the pipeline. Big Oil is already lobbying Trump to prioritize DAPL approval, which could be subject to an executive order. Unless President Obama designates the area around Lake Oahe as a national monument, the DAPL is likely to continue as planned.

Send a donation to the Water Protector Legal Collectivecall your legislators, and be ready to organize however you can. Mni Wiconi.