Five years have passed since the world watched as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stood against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline just north of their tribal land. And, the pipeline continues to be a source of division to this day.
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes a new environmental report on the pipeline, new research by the American Petroleum Institute shows that shuttering the pipeline would cut oil production from the Bakken shale region, killing thousands of jobs and costing state and local governments millions in tax revenues generated by energy production.
So, what’s at stake for the economy? The API research shows that if the pipeline were to shutter during the environmental review, it would initially cause the loss of 3,000 direct upstream jobs in an initial shutdown period. When adding indirect jobs in other related sectors, as well as indirect workers in the economy, such as restaurant and grocery stores, the total loss would be 7,400 jobs. It would also cause the loss of $912 million in state production taxes to North Dakota and Montana, during the analysis.
Standing Rock’s attorneys contest those figures and furthermore point to the immeasurable cost if the pipeline were to leak into the Missouri River contaminating millions of American’s drinking water.
For Monday’s report, we are exploring a different conversation. NoDAPL united thousands of water protectors, including representatives from more than 300 tribal nations.
It’s easy to look back on NoDAPL as a divisive time where one side was pitted against the other, but in all actuality, it was a time of togetherness for Indigenous communities.
Alayna Eagle Shield was there when thousands of water protectors began arriving to camp.
“I had always heard about it growing up that we were going to come together again, I just didn’t know it would be in my lifetime or my kid’s lifetime,” said Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm Co-Executive Director Eagle Shield.
People from all over the world who knew traditional medicines and healing practices came together. Integrating everything from medicinal herbs, to acupuncture, to even midwifery. A baby was born at camp.
“That’s something we’ve been told over and over by our elders. Don’t say that we’re bringing back these ways, or we’re going back to this because they’ve never left. They’ve always been here. They’ve just been in a different state,” explained Eagle Shield.
After camp disbanded, water protectors like Tasha Peltier and Eagle Shield decided they were going to carry on the services that had been established during camp by starting the non-profit Mni Wiconi Farm and Clinic, which is thriving today.
“For generations and centuries there have been people that have challenged the status quo and that’s the only time we’ve seen real great change is when people do standup,” explained Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm Co-Executive Director Peltier.
Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm focuses on women’s health, keeping of the soul, sacred ceremonies and food sovereignty.
“We just want to be able to practice our healthcare, our education, our energy needs. All the things that we know are best for our people. We just want to do that in the way we know how, and we want the space to figure out what that looks like,” explained Eagle Shield.
Spirituality is a critical component of Indigenous healing and wellness, and people of all faiths were drawn to the camp.
Franciscan Sister Jacqueline Schroeder came to camp four times to support and bear witness.
“Each visit, it was a very prayerful experience, a very peaceful experience,” said Sister Jacqueline. “Being there in the atmosphere of prayerful, peaceful, sharing of life.”
The water protectors at NoDAPL did not find success in stopping the pipeline, but they did find a deeper success through togetherness.
“There was all of these, since time immemorial, of us practicing our traditions and carrying on our lifeways, but when camp happened we realized how much support we had, and we realized how many relatives we have now, and so that’s where we’re like alright this is what we have to do now,” explained Eagle Shield.
Tuesday night for part II of “NoDAPL Legacy” we will explore how the protest put the wind in the sails for a major renewable energy project for The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
We will be talking with SAGE Development Authority about their 60-turbine, 235-megawatt wind farm owned by a Native nation that prioritizes people, land and nature over profit.
Anpetu Wi (“morning light”) wind farm will be the single largest revenue source for Standing Rock, and it will be reinvested back into the tribe.
Join us Tuesday night on KX News at 10 for part II of “NoDAPL Legacy”