Drums and song filled the Stevenson Union courtyard Wednesday Nov. 9 as students and community members took a stand of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The event, organized by the Native American Programs on campus, brought out a crowd of nearly 100 people. It included traditional native songs, prayer, and two short speeches addressing the issues surrounding the proposed pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, originally proposed in 2014, would span 1,200 miles through the middle of the United States.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company attempting to construct the pipeline, created the route which includes a section underneath the Missouri River. Many are concerned that the pipeline could eventually burst or leach out affecting the drinking water and other natural resources in the area.
“It can be pretty destructive in regards to leakage and environment. From my experiences and the things that I’ve seen in cleanup of them, or lack of, or none at all,” said SOU Native Nations Liaison Brent Florendo. “It makes me want our society to shift to a more sustainable type of energy.”
Protests of the proposed pipeline have gone on for several months. For many, however, the core issue of the pipeline’s creation is not oil based, but based on the continued acts of injustice towards native peoples.
“Because of the history of how Indian people are looked upon in this society, of marginalization and invisibility, I think a lot of times people think they have a right to abuse us, and they do [abuse us],“ said Florendo. “But we are all human beans. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.”
The pipeline is also zoned to cross through a burial ground which is sacred to the Sioux tribe.
“That needs to be respected,” said SOU student Lakia Solomon. “Because you wouldn’t build a pipeline through a church, so why would build one through sacred land that is a church to so many people”
President Obama addressed these disputes asking Energy Transfer Partners to halt production while a reassessment of permits could occur. Energy Transfer Partners have ignored these requests. Concerns continue to rise, however, as many believe President Elect Donald Trump will support construction of the pipeline and possibly undo any action from the Obama administration.