By Lauren McCauley –
A federal judge reportedly denied an emergency request on Tuesday for a restraining order filed by the Standing Rock Sioux in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline. But supporters of the Native American protest heralded the ruling as a partial victory anyway due to a stop work agreement on the part of the company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A representative for the tribe explained in a press conference that an “agreement” was reached with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) company not to continue construction on the area east of North Dakota Highway 1806, which is under jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, until Friday, when U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is expected to issue his ruling on the preliminary injunction.
The judge said he did not have jurisdiction to suspend activities on both sides of the highway.
“We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court’s decision does not prevent DAPL from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop construction of the pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault II said in a statement.
The emergency request for a restraining order was filed in response to the holiday weekend desecration of sacred sites.
According to images shared on social media and reporting on the ground, multiple protectors, as they refer to themselves, have locked themselves to construction equipment.
“Many tribal nations, our allies—everybody’s here as water protectors. This land is ours. This water is ours!” declared Cody Hall, a representative from the Red Warrior Camp, standing in front of the occupied machinery.
The action comes just days after security forces hired by pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners attacked tribal demonstrators with dogs and mace.
“They won’t drag us down, they won’t push us back,” Hall continued. “We are here and we will make sure this snake dies.”
One of the individuals on lockdown, Jules from the Oglala Lakota nation, explained how construction of the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline would not only imperil the sacred water of the Standing Rock Sioux, but also harm native communities, which struggle with drug abuse and violence against women.
“I’m here on lockdown to send a message that our water is sacred, our women are sacred, our children are sacred,” said Jules, who is founder of the Mothers Against Meth Alliance. “And these pipelines bring in man camps and hardcore drugs, which leads to sex trafficking of native women, which leads to missing and murdered native women. So that’s why I’m here today.”
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., attorneys representing the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux are preparing to argue before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg that Dakota Access deliberately rerouted construction over the holiday weekend to target traditional burial grounds and ritual sites. Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman saught the temporary restraining order to halt construction in and around the site until Boasberg issues his ruling on the preliminary injunction requested by the tribes, which is expected to be handed down on Friday.
For its part, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the defendant in the case, has said it would comply with a temporary halt in construction.
Hasselman reiterated how important these ancient burial sites are to the Standing Rock Sioux and the “shock and anguish” felt by the tribes when it was clear that Energy Transfer Partners took the newly filed information about the archaeological sites and “12 hours later, the bulldozers were out.”
Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said that both the dog attack and the desecration of sacred sites are examples of how, throughout this months-long standoff, the pipeline company as well as the North Dakota government have tried to incite violence from the peaceful prayer camps.
“I think what happens is the company or the government … doesn’t understand how peaceful, prayerful standoffs work,” he said. “They look for confrontation. So, that’s what they know how to deal with. But when it’s prayerful and peaceful and when it’s something that the youth want, they have to try to figure out how to deal with us.”
With over 100 tribal nations now represented at the prayer camps, resistance has grown tremendously since April when the Standing Rock Sioux received notice of the construction. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her vice president Ajama Baraka also expressed support appearing at the protest Tuesday.
“It’s one of the most beautiful things that I’m fortunate to witness,” said Archambault of the outpouring of tribal solidarity. “I think when tribes come together in unity and with prayer, there’s a lot of healing that is taking place. And the tribes that are all coming, every one of them will share a story on how the government or how the corporate world has infringed on their indigenous rights, has infringed on their indigenous land, has contaminated their environment or their water in one way or another. And this unity coming together just says it’s time to stop.”
Updates on the situation are being shared on Twitter with the hashtags #NoDAPL and #RezpectOurWater.
A version of this story was first published on the website of CommonDreams.org.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.