They do not call themselves protesters, but rather protectors. They are the brave and beautiful tribes protecting Mother Earth.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a $3.8 billion 1,100 mile oil pipeline currently under construction from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois.
Plans call for the DAPL to carry oil across four states, 200 waterways and land sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux.
Many have noted that the pipeline was repositioned from its original route after white citizens complained that a spill would pose threat to their drinking water, a threat recognized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
However, the Corps failed its federal mandate for meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Tribe before signing off on a route that moved the pipeline to their doorstep.
This is not to say that those who originally complained were wrong. What is wrong is that the pipeline exists in the first place.
Given this ongoing shift to clean energy (and the fact that renewables offer a more sustainable, more prosperous and healthier future), it seems almost unbelievable that North Dakota authorities are spending energy and money violently defending a dirty and dangerous system of energy production.
And many agree.
The pursuit to prevent the pipeline from being built has brought people from all walks of life together. Sometimes hundreds, and sometimes thousands have assembled to decry the pipeline project.
Sadly, their peaceful efforts are being met with force. Authorities have resorted to tear gas, rubber bullets and freezing cold water.
Just a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed executive actions to advance approval of this pipeline and others, casting aside efforts by former President Barack Obama's administration to block construction.
Despite the indigenous people’s cries: “Mni Wiconi, Water is life,” the pipeline is being built.
Under orders from President Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers approved a final easement on Feb. 7, allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Lawyers for the company say it could take as little as 30 days for oil to flow through the pipeline.
Those at Standing Rock are taking one last stand. In a statement on the “Stand With Standing Rock” website, supporters state:
“In honor of our future generations, we fight this pipeline to protect our water, our sacred places, and all living beings.”
This is not a conflict that can be resolved with brutality and ridicule. Rather, it must be faced with common humanity — more specifically — with peace and with love.
I support the brave and beautiful protectors of Mother Earth. I stand with Standing Rock.