By Kota Yanagidani
Hundreds of people are joining the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, to protest the alleged disruption to water resources and sacred lands in return for a large oil supply and the economic impact of millions of dollars
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is Energy Transfer Partner’s $3.8 billion project that would carry up to 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day through the line, which would run from western North Dakota to Illinois and could be connected to the other regions of the country.
Hundreds of protesters are camping at the site, with more arriving daily. On Sept. 4, several hundred Native Americans and their supporters faced security officers with dogs, resulting in injuries on both sides.
UWS student Lydia Shinkle and her husband, Dan Jones Bizhew, Turtle Mountain/Leech Lake Ojibwe, have been part of the protest. They said that tribes from across the United States have been supporting the protest, as have other Americans and people from foreign countries. Jones Bizhew said the water supply to the campsite has been cut off, and bottled water is in short supply.
The protesters’ concern, however, is water in the Missouri River. With the pipeline slated to be built underneath the river, a break or spill would impact not only the Standing Rock people, but also residents living downstream.
“It’s a matter of when,” said Jones Bizhew.
There are also voices supporting the pipeline construction. According to the Energy Transfer Company, in addition to more oil supply to the South, approximately 10,000 construction jobs would be created. The project overall would be estimated to bring in several million dollars to the local economy. The company states that use of the pipeline is a safe way for carrying oil.
However, Shinkle and Jones Bizhew say there should be a better way to transport the crude oil. “The route is a problem; it goes across under the river,” Shinkle said. “Supporters for the construction view it as job opportunities.”
To help out protesters at the campsite, the pair is collecting donations from UWS students and faculty. The protesters need everything from food and camping gear to solar chargers and Menard’s/Lowe’s gift cards. Donation boxes will be left on the first floors of Swenson and the Yellowjacket Union, and Shinkle and Jones Bizhew will make monthly trips taking them to the North Dakota campsite.
“This is not a Native issue, but a human issue,” Shinkle said. “Everybody needs water.”