News Staff Writer
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is involved in a legal battle against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
According to the official court document, the pipeline is projected to be 1,168 miles long and allegedly violates multiple federal laws.
Trey Adcock, director of American Indian Outreach and assistant professor of education at UNC Asheville, said the project was originally to be run through Bismarck, but when environmental assessments showed a high pollution risk, they moved it to the reservation.
While Adcock said part of the intent may be to decrease dependence on foreign oil, the Dakota Access Pipeline poses serious threats.
“One is they want to dig under the Missouri River and so any sort of leak would be catastrophic, not only for their water supply, but everybody downstream. Two is in the path where they’re building the pipeline there are sacred sites,” Adcock said. “Three is the Army Corps of Engineers kind of fast tracked this pipeline when it got moved from Bismarck and they approved it without consulting with the tribe, which violates different federal laws.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has not let this go unnoticed.
Devyn Smith, president of the Native American Student Association at UNCA, said the eastern band of Cherokee’s tribal council agreed to send aid to the Standing Rock Sioux and provided some insight on tribal council.
“They actually agreed to a resolution, the tribal council did and the tribal council works very similar to a congress. They have a legislative body, they have two executives, things like that,” Smith said. “So that’s how that works. What they agreed to is to send $50,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux to help the legal costs.”
Adcock said non-Natives can contribute by donating, staying informed and simply listening to Native perspectives.
“I think always listen and observe, read up on it as much as possible, particularly the perspectives of Native people,” Adcock said. “The Indigenous Environmental Network is a great resource. Sarah Sunshine Manning, who writes for Indian Country Media Today, is a great, great source of information.”
Brantly Junaluska, treasurer of the Native American Student Association, said he agrees and the government needs to step down and let the Standing Rock Sioux speak.
“Just listen to them, I guess. Give them a chance. I know a lot of people didn’t think this protest would amount to anything, but they did put a temporary halt to the building of the pipeline,” Junaluska said. “But it’s only temporary. So, we realize it could probably still happen and the best thing the government could do is shut it down completely.”