Protesters block highway against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near Standing Rock Indian Reserve

by Thor06 on November 25, 2016 - 4:48pm

The article “Standing Rock pipeline protesters repelled by force at bridge crossing” written by The Associated Press aims to inform the public on the increasing tensions associated with the construction of the $3.8 billion “Dakota Access” pipeline in Standing Rock Indian reserve adjacent to their primary source of water. The Dakota Access pipeline is expected to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois which will eventually reach its destination to Gulf of Mexico. As protesters continue to stand on state Highway 1806 against the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, their treatment by law officials remains perilous and highly excessive. Having said that, law officials have used water cannons while temperatures were below freezing, tear gas, tasers and shot rocks from slingshots towards protesters. Furthermore, approximately 180 out of 400 protesters were injured and at least 17 people were sent to hospitals.

The list of key players are complex and have their behavioural and interest conflicts with each other. Behavioural conflict occurs when there are ongoing disagreements between affected parties due to a history of previous relations of conflict and mistrust while interest conflict occurs where there are various parties that disagree on who should receive the benefits and who pays the costs (Mitchell, 2015). Pipeline corporations create revenue for operating their business. By doing so, (depending on where the individual lives), this creates jobs and economic opportunities. Meanwhile, it is important to realize that Aboriginal communities play a strong role in preventing these projects from being built on their lands or by adjacent bodies of water which makes me believe that they are one of the strongest players in this scenario.

The author states that law officials use excessive force towards protesters against the proposed Dakota Access pipeline and I agree with their stance because there's no need to attack peaceful protesters with aggressive force comprising of heavy duty water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. As mentioned before, there's an interest conflict involved because there's a clear disagreement on who pays the cost if the pipeline breaks/leaks into the Standing Rock reserve's water supply. And it would be in their best interest to just avoid any pipeline leaks/oil spills that would compromise their water supply. There's also a clear indication of behavioural conflict because there's a history of pipeline leaks throughout First Nation reserves adjacent to water bodies.

I am displeased to know that people who are protesting peacefully are being confronted with ongoing maltreatment and violence from the government. On top of this, tribe officials have seen construction workers remove the topsoil of burial and cultural sites along the path of the proposed pipeline. Aboriginal maltreatment isn't new to North America but does that mean we should let history repeat itself. I understand the Aboriginal's concern for their drinking water and to be quite frank, they have every right to demand clean water. However, the need for clean water shouldn't be this extravagant. They shouldn't have to endure safety risks and endangerment for the right to clean water.

This leads me to say that North America is a fossil fuel society. Essentially, a fossil fuel society means maximizing profits of oil and gas through economic growth/development by subjugating people and surrounding environment. To add on, fossil fuel societies are built by transforming landscapes and atmosphere catering to those needs. We live in a lifestyle heavily influenced by oil as well as gas and so making progress requires leadership from us (citizens) who are willing to speak out against these disturbing government practices in order to meet the needs and challenges faced by Aboriginals in North America today.  


Mitchell, B. (2015). Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. Canada: Oxford University Press.

The Associated Press. (2016, Nov 21). Standing Rock pipeline protesters repelled by force at bridge crossing. Retrieved from 1.3859945


The extent to which the protests had gone to just demand a basic human right in clean water is disturbing to say the least. In hind sight, knowing now that the protests worked and that the pipeline is now finding a different route, its a feel-good story. But question becomes why were the protests ever necessary? Destroying any communities access to clean water should cancel any sort of resource project, especially with the historical treatment. I agree that we are a fossil fuel society, and hopefully investments into green energy help change our societal values.