The Struggle at Standing Rock:
Pipeline Protest, First Nations’ Uprising
“What white man can say I never stole his land or a penny of his money? Yet they say that I am a thief.” — Sitting Bull, Lakota Holy Man, Grand River.
For the past few months, an encampment has sprung up on the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The resistance has been led by the Standing Rock Sioux opposed to the routing of the $3.8-billion pipeline transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields through burial grounds and sacred sites under the Missouri River. Any break in the line would do enormous damage to the water supply and the historical territories of the Sioux. Hundreds of First Nations and tribes from across North America, and also from other parts of the Americas, have lent their support to the struggle and come to Standing Rock. There has also formed a united front from some 50 First Nations against further pipeline development that would add to the development of the fossil fuel industry and the problems of climate change.
This is a struggle for climate justice, First Nations sovereignty and land rights, and the ecological protection of the land and water against capitalist development. It follows on the struggles of the Lummi Nation to stop a massive coal port development and protect fishing rights, the opposition of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation against the Petronas LNG plant on the coast of British Columbia, and a series of other struggles against pipeline developments in Canada and the USA.
This has motivated The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, and the campaigning work of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
The warrior spirit at Standing Rock is a critical drum beat inspiring other social and class struggles demanding an alternative.