Dakota Access: A Disaster Waiting to Happen.

The Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by criminalintent on Flickr.

The Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by criminalintent on Flickr.

ShadowProof has given us some much needed coverage. Still asking mainstream media, where the hell are you all? There are a thousand stories to be told, at least. So many stories. And there is one hell of a big story, if you can manage to pull your heads out of oil’s backside.

The Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota will not only impact the environment but also lead to an influx of out-of-state workers and increase crime, drug use, and sex trafficking, according to an indigenous columnist.

If completed, the pipeline, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, would travel from North Dakota to Illinois through 50 counties in the United States and transport crude oil. A data sheet published by Dakota Access, LLC, indicates it is a $3.7 billion “investment” intended to run some 1,172 miles, or 1,886 kilometers. It is expected to “transport approximately 470,000 barrels [of crude oil] with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe launched a protest encampment called the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp back in April, but in recent weeks, demonstrations against the pipeline have intensified, as thousands have traveled to the camp to support the struggle of indigenous people against Dakota Access.

Ruth Hopkins, a Lakota and Dakota of the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, and an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Nation, told Shadowproof oil development tends to bring in a lot of non-Native men from out of state who do the work, often on a temporary basis. This influx of transient workers “brings an increase in crime, drug use, and sex trafficking. The Bakken is a perfect example of that.”

As the oil boom began, North Dakota saw a major population spike, and the state’s law enforcement, particularly on reservations, wasn’t prepared.

“We don’t have the kind of funding necessary to combat crimes waves, and there are special concerns regarding jurisdiction on tribal lands,” Hopkins said. “As a tribal judge on a nearby reservation, I witnessed the effects of this oil boom. It pushed the tribe to the point of declaring a State of Emergency due to rampant drug use.”

Hopkins, who is also a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network and co-founder of Last Real Indians, described how the pipeline will be built on a shifting riverbed and directly threaten the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s main water source.

Dakota Access has already failed to complete a sufficient “environmental impact statement” as required by law, according to Hopkins. The company has failed to consult the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe regarding human remains in the ground at the site. This was the reason the tribe was awarded an injunction against Dakota Access.

Hopkins argued the pipeline “is a disaster waiting to happen, and once a leak occurs, there aren’t stringent enough regulations in place to ensure proper cleanup.” She has seen this scenario before in the case of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, which spilled on her reservation, Lake Traverse. “It was never properly cleaned up.”

A leak would also impact millions living along the Missouri River, but locals continue to be told the pipeline will never leak.

The mainstream media has played a part in compounding the trauma caused by the project by ignoring events and forcing local indigenous activists to work tirelessly to garner any media attention. For example, despite Sacred Stone Camp protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline having taken place for over a week, with more than 2,000 people there in order to defend the land and water, they’ve been “pretty much shut out by national news”.

Hopkins suggested, “Dozens of other Native Nations are joining the cause. If this story isn’t worthy of coverage, nothing is. The public is beginning to realize this. #NoDAPL trended nationally on Twitter.”

Jon Eagle Sr., Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, recently stated in a video interview with Newsy that “the last time the seven bands of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota Nation stood together was at the Battle of the Greasy Grass in June 25, 1876”, making their presence at the Bakken protest incredibly historic.

The movement against the Bakken Pipeline project isn’t the first for indigenous activists. They have battled against the Keystone XL pipeline in recent years. They have fought to save Pe’Sla, a sacred site in the heart of the Black Hills, which private parties attempted to auction in 2012.

Throughout history, indigenous resistance has remained creative, vibrant, and unrelenting. “The Black Hills were promised to the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, in the Fort Laramie Treaty. They were stolen after gold was discovered. The Supreme Court of the United States held that the Black Hills rightfully belongs to us. After much effort, we got it back,” Hopkins recounted.

For those interested in helping local indigenous communities with their movement against Dakota Access, Hopkins says they can share information about their protests, and fund their efforts.

“Also, you can show up. Come and join us.”

We should not have to fight for healthy earth, clean water, and clean air. We should not have to fight for these things for all the generations to come. We must protect our earth, we must protect our people. All of us, every single one of us, let us raise our voices in unity and strength. We have the right to say no. Join the resistance, come to the camps if you can. If you can’t, donate money, supplies, a few moments of your wireless to get the the word out, whatever you can do. It matters. Every action matters. Every word matters. You matter. Make a difference.

Support Sacred Stone Camp. Legal Fund Help. Rezpect Our WaterSign the Petition. Sign urgent petition. And please, please, signal boost as much as you can, spread the word – mainstream media is still acting like nothing is going on, and I saw one new MSM article today, and it was covering the 3rd day in August! This has been going on since April, and even now, media can’t manage to be remotely current. Help them out by doing their job for them, since they can’t seem to handle it. Thank you!

Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff. – Feds Grant TRO Against Standing Rock Members. – Dakota Access Protest: We’re being sued – help us fight it!Dakota Access Standoff Calls on Obama. – Among Those Arrested…Sacred Stone Camp: Calling Water Warriors!Dakota Access: About That Oil…Dakota Access Purchaser Looking Like Enron.Standing Rock and IITC File Urgent Communication to UN.Sacred Stone Camp.North Dakota: State of Emergency Declared. – Solidarity Sings!Settling into CampWashington DC: Action AlertSolidarity Sings Along. – WE ARE…URGENT Petition Call and Solidarity Sings III A Tale of Two Standoffs. – Lakota No Access. – Coping With Cops. – Dakota Access and The Mindset of Christendom. – Adding Insult to Injury. – Tanka’s Mark Tilsen Speaks. – Los Angeles: Action Alert.Sadness.Reno Nevada: Action Alert.Never Broken.Resistance: Photo Essay. – Washington, DC


  1. says

    All it’d take to turn it into a big media story is a kardashian or something.

    I wonder if it’d be possible to googlewhack some stars’ publicists and mention that there’s an opportunity for them to be the match that ignites a media blaze. Hm. I don’t know how that game is played, but presumably it’s all marketing.

  2. says

    Three big star actors are already involved, Shailene Woodley, Riley Keough, and someone whose name I don’t remember, Mark Ruffalo, DiCaprio, Susan Sarandon, and more. Lots of major rappers are on board, Pharrel is the latest. People, we have them. No one is paying attention anyway. That’s just how far this country is up oil’s arse.

  3. says

    Oh, and our governor, Jackkk Dalrymple, the *only* thing he cares about is keeping the construction going (it never stopped, Dakota Access just said they’d stop, but they haven’t):

    The state plan is to meet with leaders of the seven North Dakota tribes protesting the pipeline and determine a timeline to end the protest, which began in April.

    Dalrymple said they’d like to work with tribal leaders, as well as regain “full control of our state highway” and establish a safe zone around the construction area so work may continue.

    “My hope is that these events can unfold in some sort of planned way,” he said.

    Jackkk’s so invested in oil that if this doesn’t go through, he’ll lose those fat pockets of his. Fucker.


  4. Kengi says

    I read articles in the Washington Post and the BBC this morning which covered an overview as well as today’s hearings. (Don’t have links at the moment…) Looks like it took protesters showing up in DC where the media had reporters waiting for the news to come to them.

  5. says

    Yeah, their way of covering it…yeesh. The Guardian did okay, but they only did minimal coverage, and the MSM article I saw today was from the freaking 3rd of August. This has been going on since April.

    No MSM is out at the camps, no one is telling the story that needs to be told.

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    TYT covered the pipeline and the protests. Of the hosts, Cenk Uygur was a bit mixed* and John Iadarola was clearly against the pipeline.

    They agreed that the protests are justified and the Energy Partners is wrong to continue building the DAP while the case is in courts. Also they dismissed the claims of weapons and pipe bombs made by the cops as preposterous and compared the treatment of the protesters to the Bundy Ranch case.

    All in all, their coverage was a bit halfhearted and no connections to TYT’s favourite topic, money in politics, were made.

    TYT isn’t mainstream media, but the videos may get 50k -- 100k views in a day or two, by people who don’t follow Indian Country media.
    * = He put on the argument about development vs. culture and environment, snickered about hippies (not cool) and was a bit unsure about the legal stuff, while acknowledging to some extent that the Indigenous people’s must be heard and they may be right.

  7. rq says

    Ooooh, hippies, eh? I’m not a huge TYT fan, but I’m extra disappointed at that attitude, and the lack of awareness (or willingness to investigate) the economic/big money aspect of the pipeline and protests against it.
    Anyway, I’m overall disappointed with MSM for completely missing out on all the actually good things they could have done with this story right from the beginning. And still now.
    Nope, nothing racist to see here, not at all!

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