Mni Wiconi means “water is life” in the Lakota language. Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP), the corporation responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), is in violation of basic human rights for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose lands and welfare are affected by this disruptive project.
Accessibility to water is considered to fall under Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”
Even though the company offered to move the tribe’s water intake further away from the pipeline’s construction, as it is currently 20 miles away, ETP’s relocation of the water 70 miles away does not lessen the tribe’s concern over water contamination.
The proposed 1,172 mile-long pipeline has a hefty estimated cost of $3.78 billion and plans to transport 470,000 barrels of oil across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, according to the ETP’s fact sheet. DAPL proposes to create 8,000 to 10,000 jobs during its construction.
Its fact sheet also projected the pipeline to, “translate into millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase and an estimated $156 million in sales in income taxes.” While the economic benefits are tempting, it is crucial that we, as a nation, recognize why resisting DAPL is such an important cause: to preserve the sacred lands of Native Americans and their wellbeing, to honor our citizens basic human rights to adequate health (Article 25, UDHR) and to own property (Article 17,UDHR).
DAPL continues to receive major media coverage from national news outlets such as CNN and the New York Times because this is one in a handful of historical moments when Native Americans have had thousands of allies on their side to protect their lands. Tribes across the U.S. have always had to fight for their lands, and now, approximately 2,100 veterans have arrived at the construction site in solidarity with protesters, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This group is organized under its name “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock,” whose mission is to “put [their] bodies on the line…in complete nonviolence” to “prevent progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline and draw national attention to the human rights warriors of the Sioux tribes.” Veterans join alongside thousands of protesters who believe in defending the tribe’s fundamental rights to accessible, clean water and their sacred lands.
On Sunday, the Department of the Army announced that it will prohibit ETP’s drilling for the pipeline under a dammed part of the Missouri River, meaning that it would seek alternative routes for the project.
This is definitely a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but we must be cautious moving forward, considering President-elect Donald Trump supports the pipeline’s construction and actually has stock in the company that is building it, according to the New York Times.
Talk about rigged.