By Robert Waddell
September 16—Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies recently celebrated a federal judge’s order to halt construction of a section of oil pipeline on sacred lands. But the temporary restraining order is a mixed victory as construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to continue.
Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed 1,100-mile oil pipeline poses a great environmental threat to many Native Americans, their sacred lands and their drinking water. The most recent protest was triggered last week when pipeline company workers used bulldozers to destroy sacred tribal sites whose locations had already been identified in court documents.
Native Americans like the Sioux continue vigilant protest that brought national headlines and international unity against the plan.
Many in the Native American community see this again as the United States breaking yet another treaty. Over 200 people have camped out near the proposed pipeline site in North Dakota, and many New York Boricuas stand with Native peoples to protect their land and their water supply.
The Naguake Boriken, a New York City-based Taino organization recently announced their support for the Standing Rock Sioux in defending their land against the pipeline. On Saturday, August 28, Naguake Boriken leaders Yarey Melendez and Luis Sanakori Ramos read a letter of support while others rallied with other Standing Rock Sioux allies in front of the national Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan.
“The United States government is committing an international crime; the Native people should denounce this at the United Nations,” said activist Iris Colon Dipini – a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party’s New York City chapter who sees the Dakota pipeline as an invasion of sovereign land. “Both the government and the private company in charge of the pipeline must cease and desist,” she added.
“Native people and environmentalists have drawn a line in the sand,” poet and educator Bobby Gonzalez said. “The United States government must honor its treaties and safeguard the precious waters of the Missouri River.”
Unknown environmental effects could not only harm Native lands and water supplies but could affect water used by non-Native people. If there were severe damage to the pipeline, water in the region could be severely contaminated.
“Native people are protecting the water that we all need to sustain life,” said Taino activist Taino Ray. “We are all in this together.”