By JAMES WELLS
They did it! Protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota, have finally gotten through to the U.S. federal government, putting a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The pipeline was supposed to run under the Missouri River, which Native American and environmental activists feared would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites. After spending three-quarters of 2016 protesting peacefully, setting up camp and attracting worldwide attention, those who came together to stand up for what they believed in were finally rewarded.
The Obama administration, whether it was because of some last-minute moral consciousness, or because war veterans were showing up to support the protesters, came to the conclusion that it was time to find an alternative route for the pipeline.
I really, really hope that this alternative route is found and used. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are currently responsible for the “protection” of the area surrounding Standing Rock, and also responsible for scouring the land for alternative routes to bypass the river and sacred native land.
My biggest fear is when president-elect Donald Trump takes power in four days. He could have this whole deal to find an alternative route thrown out the window. Trump has made it clear that he supports the pipeline, even donating approximately $500,000 to $1 million in support of its construction. A president who would support an oil and coal market and doesn’t believe that climate change is caused by humans should not be allowed to have a voice of power in this matter.
We all know politics can be slippery at times, which makes this part really interesting. Upon seeing my news notifications about the victory at Standing Rock pop up on my phone, I thought to myself, is this real? Well of course it is real, but is it a certainty? That was my biggest concern when I first saw the “Victory” headlines.
It turns out though that I am not the only one who thinks this. From the sounds of it, after reading a couple of different articles published by CBC and Vice News, protesters are not going to be leaving Standing Rock any time soon. The encampment has been asked to pack up their things and head home now that they have been told that their protest was a success.
However, as slippery as I mentioned politics can be, I think this is a wise move on the protesters’ part. Many protesters believe that this could be a ploy to remove them from Standing Rock in order to proceed with the construction of the pipeline. I agree. It’s going to be a cold and tough endeavour to remain at the encampment this winter, but I believe it is in the best interest of the protesters to remain there until there is a guarantee that the pipeline location won’t impact the river or them.
This was a great victory for the people of Standing Rock, North Dakota, as well as a victory for all humanity. Here it was proven that no matter the oppression by big business, militarized police or the government of a country, standing up for what you believe in shows us all the power people still possess in this world.