Tensions Rise in Standing Rock Sioux Nation

by jessieparlee on November 25, 2016 - 11:00pm

In summary, the piece of media which has been selected is regarding the protest against the North Dakota Pipeline in Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Thousands of people have now displayed their support with the first nation community. Protests, marches and rallies have also taken place all over Canada, as a way to display solidarity. Standing Rock Sioux Nation is opposed to the construction of a multi-million dollar project that would transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field, close to the border of Saskatchewan Canada, into the border of Illinois. This pipeline is roughly 1886 km long.  The motive behind why tribal leaders, other members of the aboriginal community and society are opposed to the construction of the pipeline is based on the fear that the pipeline may leak and poison the entire Missouri River. The reason why this is concerning, is simply because ‘water is life’. With this being said, humans and all other species on Earth need water to exist, thrive and live. Humans cannot drink oil, and the way the government has been managing resources are as if they would rather have profits over people. The pipeline is also being opposed due to lack of regulations, potential seismic activity, and the backlash in regards to making investments to the fossil fuel industry.

The turnout of support for Standing Rock is overwhelming and what first started out as a small camp has now transcended into thousands of people living in tents, RVs and Teepees to show support. The camp has grown in size so much, that there are now cooks to feed and host new comers, to thank the public for support. However, due to the size of support being shown for Standing Rock, there are now police check points coming in and out of the territory, and overall police activity has been high. In fact, Standing Rock has declared they are in a state of emergency to address the seriousness of the situation. As a result of the emergency declaration signed by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, the fight is not predicted to end anytime soon. Although protestors have been peaceful, police brutality has increased with the use of pepper spray, water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets, which only perpetuates the situation. In summary, protest to the North Dakota pipeline is expected to continue and is expected to get worse before it gets better depending on decisions.

Aboriginal communities are immediately affected by the pipeline, as it is set to be built across their traditional territory, thus making them a major stakeholder. Other stakeholders include NGO’s, landowners and all levels of government. Other stakeholders include people who are employed within the fossil fuel industry. This is because many members of society are dependent on the jobs which are created from constructing and maintaining a pipeline, also from the extraction and shipment of oil. With this being said the DAPL would give the economy a huge boost, and would be beneficial to raise unemployment.

The opposition to the pipeline is not news; in fact there are many issues around the shipment of crude oil. The cause of the initial conflict is due to different levels of understand the issue. There is a behavioral conflict as Aboriginal communities and the state have had a poor historical relationship. In other words, First Nation communities do not believe that the government will protect common resources, as they have not efficiently done so in the past. There is also a value conflict as different stakeholders have contrasting views regarding the goals of management, (exportation vs. conservation). Lastly, there is also a cognitive conflict as the different parties involved have different levels of understand the environment, (TEK vs. scientific knowledge). Over all, this entire problem is a concern and could be easily mitigated if the government respectfully involved aboriginal communities in economic development. As a final point, First nations can either stand in the way of development or be respectful partners in it.


Great post. It gave all the relevant information in a succinct manner. I am only a little bit confused by the end, do you think that it is equally the government and first nations fault or is one more than the other? In my opinion it should be the aboriginals who hold treaty rights over this land to be allowed to stand in the way of development if they so chose. I'm wondering what you think.

Hi, Thank you for your comment and I am sorry about the confusion. Yes, you are right, it should be aboriginals who hold treaty rights over the land used for development. I was just trying to assess the situation and discuss why the conflict in North Dakota is growing so intense. I thought that bringing in the course content regarding conflict would really help with that. I was ultimately trying to convey that the conflict is present due to a poor historical relationship, regarding first nation communities and the state. I also wanted to address the lack of mutual understanding regarding how to develop land. Despite the government and aboriginal communities not seeing eye to eye on development, the government approves development anyways, which only further escalates the conflict. I also wanted to address the fact that not all aboriginal communities are against development, hence they can either be partners in development or stand against it.

Hi, I really liked your article! Not only is the topic relevant, it helps bring awareness to the Aboriginal peoples needs and where conflicts may arise. One thing you mentioned that really struck me was 'Humans cannot drink oil'. Now I know that's fairly obvious but, in today's economy and society we act as if oil is as vital to our survival as water is. The fact that this conflict is even occurring shows that, to some extent, it is. The extent of oppositions governments face to pipelines is not something that should be overlooked and yet, governments continue to act like the people who are affected by these developments are non-existent.
With that being said, you mentioned that First Nation support is also possible for certain developments. We know there's a duty to consult Indigenous people prior to any development but for the most part, does it really matter whether they support the development or not, seeing as how the government often times chooses the path that's most beneficial to their economy vs. the people. However, that doesn't mean that Indigenous people should be passive about this by any means. I think that the peaceful protests occurring at this moment are necessary and vital. Things would change tremendously if Aboriginal people were treated with the same significance as economic development was given.

Hi there,
Awesome post! I chose to comment on this one because I have been following the Standing Rock protests closely and was interested to another opinion on it and to see some coverage on it as it relates to class. You did a great job summarizing the issue. I have been thinking a lot lately about water protection due to Nestle buying a well in my community (Elora). It is astonishing to me how hard people have to fight to protect the water because to me it just seems like common sense. How far is this protest really going to go before the government will address the human rights abuses going on as well as what the people want, not big oil? I feel that decisions are constantly being made to accomodate to the economy (which could sustain or thrive with a switch to green energy) instead of to the environment (which can't just be altered to physically tolerate fossil fuels without a change). Here is a link to a recent article I think is really interesting about U.S veterans joining the Sioux fight against the black snake. I think it is interesting because these are people who have take large sacrifices for their country (and/or country's desires) and now they are standing up for the kind of country they want America to be. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/standing-rock-north-dakota-1.3877269

Hello jessieparlee great post. The rising concerns regarding the Sioux Nation and the North Dakota pipeline has become one of the most prominent environmental issues regarding today’s conflict scenarios. The entire conflict displays the many issues regarding past aboriginal relationships, land rights, and state resource management. The unbelievable way that the state treats the protest has been absolutely disturbing besides the lack of recognition of aboriginal rights and fresh water concerns. The implementation of the Dakota Access pipeline poses a large amount of risk towards essential resources used and consumed by the Sioux First Nationals people as well as many other citizens.
The protest and support for this concern is absolutely essential in achieving recognition from the state on the importance of our natural resources and environmental health. The state should idealistically be looking towards more viable resources than crude oil in the first place, rather than introducing a massive environmental risk such as this pipeline. Support locally and around the world will aid in achieving a more beneficial result from this massive issue/event and hopefully lead to greater aboriginal rights and recognition. Economic gain should not be put ahead of citizen health and environmental concern. Overall great post and ultimately hope to hear more beneficial results regarding the Dakota Access pipeline in the future.