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#StandingRock Explained: 5 Facts on the Dakota Access Pipeline Project That Threatens Indigenous Life, Environment

Sep 27, 2016 04:08 AM EDT
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For now, the government has halted construction on the pipeline that the Standing Rock tribe and thousands of their allies are protesting. This is a temporary respite and the controversy is expected to stretch ahead. Here are a few facts to better understand the Dallas Access Pipeline project and its consequences on the Sioux and the greater population.

Standing Rock, or the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, is a reservation in North and South Dakota. According to the official website, the Sioux is a term used for the people of the Dakota and Lakota nations. Even among the Sioux, there are nuances in culture, language, territory and politics, and the tribe has its own council that passes legislation, drafts and approves financial transactions, and makes major decisions.

The federal government, specifically the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approved the pipeline using a fast track option called Permit 12. According to a report from the New Yorker, the tribe says that this rushed approval had the government neglect to consult with them about the construction of the pipeline, which would have to dig up a number of their sacred sites.

The pipeline wasn't supposed to even be in Sioux territory. It was originally set to cross Missouri near Bismarck, but when officials realized an oil spill could destroy the state capital's drinking water, the project was moved to half a mile from the Standing Rock reservation. The Smithsonian reported that the completed pipeline is expected to span nearly 1,200 miles and the capability to transport 470,000 barrells of crude oil daily.

Standing Rock and its allies at Sacred Stone Camp are fighting for their heritage and their lives, which are intertwined with the water. "First, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) just a half a mile upstream of the Tribe's reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic," a statement on the Standing Rock website read. "Second, the pipeline would pass through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred sites and burials that federal law seeks to protect."

The administration halted work on the pipeline section near Standing Rock, but construction is ongoing in other sections. A report from Huffington Post revealed that it's because other sections are located on private land. Meanwhile, the Sioux have a pending lawsuit against the Army Corps.

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