Three Years Since the Standing Rock Protests

What Has Changed?

In 2016, Native American tribes and allies from all over the country came to North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is in the center of North and South Dakota. Standing Rock was originally established as a part of the Great Sioux Reservation, which was established in 1868. In 2014, Energy Transfer Partners LP made plans to build an oil pipeline that would stretch over a thousand miles from North Dakota to Iowa, and carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The pipeline, called the Dakota Access Pipeline, would run through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. 

When the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved in 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe sprang into action. The pipeline would run right next to their drinking water—any spill or leakage would contaminate their water supply. Additionally, the pipeline would run through the tribe’s sacred burial sites. 

On April 1, 2016, a group of 200 Native Americans rode on horseback to protest the construction. They set up a camp, called The Sacred Stone Camp, which became a site of protest for the cause. In November, 2016, the protesters were ordered to evacuate their protest site. The protesters intended on staying, and clashed with the police. 

Finally, the Obama Administration denied a key permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to be built. Protesters were relieved until a couple of months later, when the Trump Administration reversed that decision and approved further construction. The Dakota Access pipeline is now built, and carrying oil. Energy Transfer even plans on expanding, and transporting more oil.

But all hope is not lost. Standing Rock Activists did not give up the fight. Although the Sacred Stone Camp is gone, its ethos lives on in the Sacred Stone Village. Sacred Stone Village is an EcoVillage, whose mission is to combine Native traditions and sustainable living. Their Facebook page continues to update on the work that they have accomplished. Highlights include collecting trash from the cannonball river, planting indigenous trees and berries, and continuing to educate about the dangers of fossil fuels. 

The individual activists from Standing Rock continue to speak out and work hard to warn against the dangers of oil pipelines. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, founder of Sacred Stone Camp, continues to give speeches and educate the world about indigenous rights and environmental protection. Spiritual activist and former Standing Rock spokeswoman, Cheryl Angel, is still working towards her goal of uniting people in fighting for water safety and protection. 

Three years later, activists won’t give up on their mission to fight for their slogan, Water is Life.

ELIANA DOFT loves to write, travel, and volunteer. She is especially excited by opportunities to combine these three passions through writing about social action travel experiences. She is an avid reader, a licensed scuba diver, and a self-proclaimed cold brew connoisseur.