Why Have Native Americans Been Banned From Protesting an Oil Pipeline?

Plans to swiftly put up the Dakota Access Pipeline are not going nearly as smoothly as oil companies would have liked, thanks to demonstrations by thousands of Native Americans which have effectively halted construction.

Members of the Lakota and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, amongst others, have gathered in North Dakota to impede construction of a massive pipeline on their land. It’s disturbing how the American government will set aside reservation land for these tribes, then decide to take some of it back when a lucrative oil project is proposed.

You would think that Native Americans – who weren’t consulted before the project was approved, mind you – should at least enjoy the autonomy to protest on their own land when something like that occurs, but the American government is attempting to strip them of that right, too.

Last week, Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, petitioned the courts to put a stop to the protests. Bafflingly, the courts agreed to put a restraining order on the protesters since Energy Transfer Partners was losing money due to its construction delays.

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

Police officers also said they are worried that the protests could turn violent, citing allegations that some of the protesters have carried weapons. Dave Archambault, the head of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who has already been arrested for protesting, said, “The position of our tribe is clear – there’s no place for threats, violence or criminal activity. That is simply not our way.”

To their credit, the Native Americans have not given up their protests despite the court order. If anything, the protests have grown larger. Hundreds of Native Americans from other tribes around the country have shown up to participate in solidarity.

As a consequence of these continued protests, there have been dozens of arrests, but construction of the pipeline has not continued in this area. When demonstrators surrounded the machinery, workers had no choice but to abandon their posts.

Native American activists are concerned with more than just the fact that the pipeline infringes on tribal land: Their primary concern is the environment. The pipeline is set to cross more than 200 rivers and creeks, which would put the area’s sole water resources in jeopardy.

“Everything that oil is used for, there is an alternative for, there is a renewable alternative for that oil,” said Joye Braun, member of Indigenous Environmental Network. “There is no alternative for water.”

Native Americans are not the only people attempting to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. In Iowa, landowners have requested that a judge issue a temporary stay on construction since crews are slated to start before their lawsuits can proceed. The landowners argue that the eminent domain laws do not pertain for this particular project and therefore the government should not be able to seize the land.

If and when completed, the pipeline will carry over half a million barrels of oil each day over 1,172 miles. That leaves the Dakota Access Pipeline just seven miles shy of the length of the controversial Keystone Pipeline, which makes it all the more strange that the Dakota Access Pipeline has been largely ignored by the press.

Perhaps that is why the government keeps approving these projects as quickly as possible, skipping some common sense steps along the way. They know that if people have a chance to become aware and organize, the plan has a real shot of being thwarted.

Although this is a struggle that should concern all of us, thank goodness the indigenous people of this country are committing themselves to protecting the environment. It’s not too late to support them in their efforts – sign this petition urging the Dakota Access Pipeline to be scrapped altogether.

Photo Credit: Maureen


Fernanda S
Fernanda Sampaio2 years ago

Indigenous people are the real heroes, giving a huge lesson to the all world: Am so gratefull to them, for putting them seles at risk on behalf of Nature, for all of us.If we were that couscious everybody would be there and that pipeline would never be constructed. I mean, we all drink water! #WaterIsLife! That's why Mother Nature love them most. Prayers, love and gratitude to indigenous people.

Patricia H.
Patricia Harris2 years ago

Now I really know the meaning of the word ''Indian Giver''. We give to the Indians, and then we come to take it back.

.2 years ago

Who are the "baddies" now?

Robin Pasholk
Robin Pasholk2 years ago

We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our descendants.

chris B.
chris B2 years ago

Signed. And commented.

chris B.
chris B2 years ago

I read about this before too. It is BS. This is their land. I don't understand how a big corp. can come in and get the land for oil. This is just not right. Wish I could be there to protest with them. How can this be stopped. It's their only water supply. Why can't the state, county, town, our country, see this? They wouldn't want a pipeline in their back yard. Or running through their wells, or gardens, or near their water treatment plants. ugh, how frustrating for those poor people. Poor gentle people. We suck.

Jay W.
Jay W2 years ago

I read about this before and was so pissed off about it. This is total BS, these people should be able to have a say in what happens to their land, all American citizens should be able to do that! You've got one more signature on your petition

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Nathan D.
Nathan D2 years ago

The Vatican is considered a nation within a nation, it is its own government. Just like the Native Americans are also their own government, they too are a nation within a nation. Would anyone take the Pope to court if he protested against an oil pipeline running through the Vatican? I find it funny how people buy into the belief that buildings built on ancient Indian burial grounds are "haunted," when that's basically all America is, an Indian burial ground. Did we not slaughter the Native Americans? Did we not steal their land? And are not to this day continuing to take the pitiful amount of land we "gifted" the TRUE Native Americans? I now know where the term "Indian giver" originated from, it's what we gave to the Native Americans and then took back. This entire country is cursed for all of what we have done to them.