In 2014, Dakota Access LLC submitted an application that would allow them to build a 358-mile pipeline from Bakken and Three Forks oil formations. The application was accepted and in January 2016, the project was approved.
What started out as a 358-mile pipeline soon changed to a $3.7 billion project and a 1,172 mile pipeline that would stretch from northern North Dakota to southern Illinois. This would ease transporting crude oil to refineries on the gulf and east coasts.
According to CNN, the current plan would cut through Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation, possibly destroying sacred lands and preventing access to clean drinking water.
Colonel John Henderson of the USACE or the United States Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing later in April, so Native tribe members could speak out about the project. Those who spoke up rejected the project.
In July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed lawsuit and then a preliminary injunction against the USACE once they discovered construction for the pipeline had already begun.
Most recently, protesters from all over the country have travelled to the site to stand their ground despite threats of persecution by law enforcement. Over the months of protesting against the construction, the tribe has been joined by many within the community and others outside growing stronger and remaining firm in their stance.
Sources have reported both sides resorting to violence in hopes the other would move. Fires are being started by protesters and officers are trying to remove the crowds with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water hoses.
Tribal chairman David Archambault II said the accusations against the protesters acting out violently were false.
“They are the ones who are bringing the aggression.” He said. “ They’re the ones using weapons.”
Public figures such as Shailene Woodley, Amy Goodman and Bernie Sanders have joined rallies against the pipeline. Sanders spoke out in front of the White House in September against the plans and also wrote a letter to President Obama.
In his letter he asked Obama to intervene on the project and to protect the Native Americans and the rights to their lands linked to the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. He said, “I urge you to take all appropriate measure to protect the safety of the Native Americans protesters and their supporters who have gathered peacefully, to oppose the construction of the pipeline.”
He continued in the letter urging Obama to take the same stand as he did for the Keystone pipeline in 2010.