Mainers react to people-powered victory at Standing Rock

Mainers react to people-powered victory at Standing Rock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Sunday that it has denied an easement to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to pass under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, and will instead explore alternate routes away from local water supplies and lands sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“This is a significant victory for two reasons. It potentially keeps the pipeline out from under the Missouri River, and any relocation will likely result in a full environmental assessment,” said Sherri Mitchell, an attorney, activist and member of the Penobscot Nation who is currently at Standing Rock. “The concern, amidst the joy, is that DAPL has pledged to keep drilling and just pay the fines. But, today, there’s no denying the power of peaceful, prayerful people.”

Since water protectors began assembling at the Sacred Stone Camp in April, the action has grown to become the largest indigenous mobilization in more than one hundred years. More than 2,000 U.S. veterans are expected to join the activists standing against the pipeline over the next few days.

“This is a huge victory today for the Standing Rock Sioux and the many who have braved the freezing cold and brutal violence to oppose this project and its threat to the tribe’s sacred sites and water supply,” said Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.  “I applaud President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers for acting on their concerns, but I will continue working to ensure those promises are kept in the months ahead.”

This halt to construction is a significant victory for the anti-pipeline activists and shows the power of indigenous organizing. It may be short-lived, however. President-elect Donald Trump is a pipeline proponent who personally owns stock in the companies building the project. His administration is expected to reverse the Corps’ decision.

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