Native American Tribes Take a Stand Against Pipeline, Celebrities Show Support

Celebrities, including Shailene Woodley, have joined with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop construction of an oil pipeline with potential to pollute drinking water.

By Sheryl Estrada


North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to contest the construction of a $3.8 billion, four-state oil pipeline, which they say would pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

On Wednesday, a federal court in Washington, D.C., heard a challenge by the Standing Rock Nation, which seeks a preliminary injunction against federal agencies that approved theBakken pipeline, also known as the Dakota Access pipeline. District Court Judge James Boasberg said he would announce his decision by September 9. He set a status hearing for September 14.

Outside the courthouse, “Divergent” star Shailene Woodley, 24, an environmentalist and a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, headlined a rally consisting of more than 100 people. Tribe members from across the country were also joined by Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon and actress and songwriter Riley Keough.

“Clean water is now a political issue. It shouldn’t be, but it is,” Woodley, who has been protesting against the pipeline since February, said in an interview.

In the following video, Woodley explains why she is against the pipeline:

Woodley and Keough, daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and eldest grandchild of Elvis Presleyand Priscilla Presley, also attended a “Stop The Dakota Access Pipeline” protest on August 7 in New York City.

Energy Transfer Partners is leading a group of firms in building the nearly 1,170 mile buried pipeline. It would be the first pipeline to carry more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois. The company said it would provide millions of dollars for local economies and is safer than train cars and trucks to transport the oil.

The pipeline would cross the Missouri River a mile away from the Standing Rock Reservation. The tribe said that if the pipeline leaks or breaks, a large amount of crude oil would spill into the river, threatening residents’ drinking water and potentiallyaffecting millions of people.

Related Story:Meeting in a Box: National Native American Heritage Month

The tribe said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not conduct efficient historical and cultural reviews before granting a federal permit for the pipeline in July.Although the majority of the pipeline runs along private land, federal approvals are requiredwhere it crosses bodies of water.

“They’re going under the river 500 yards from my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my aunt who I buried last week,” Ladonna Allard, a member of the Standing Rock Nation and the closest landowner to the proposed pipeline, said in April. “I really love my land, and if that pipeline breaks everything is gone.”

Construction has been slowed since April by protests in North Dakota, and some work has been halted. Lakota Sioux protesters won a short-term victory on August 17 when Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas agreed to halt construction near the reservation for a week, until the federal court date.

Prior to the agreement, the company sought a restraining order against protesters on August 15. Prairie Public Broadcasting reported that two days later the number of protesters grew to more than 1,500: “Native Americans from Wyoming, Colorado and as far as Oklahoma are pulling up by the busload.”

“I could give you a list of every wrongdoing this government did to our people. All of that is frustration pent up, and it’s being recognized,” Dave Archambault II, the tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux,told The New York Times.

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