In the very early morning of Wednesday, November 16, as tens of thousands of people rested after attending #NoDAPL solidarity actions at US Army Corps of Engineers offices and banks across the globe, the horizontal directional drill equipment arrived the banks of the Mni Sose (Missouri River) at the Standing Rock encampments. Although it was transported largely without detection, drone footage from our friends at Digital Smoke Signals clearly shows the new equipment at the heavily fortified drill pad on the Cannonball Ranch, guarded by a surreal fortress of 15’ walls, razor wire, floodlights, and military forces.
Earlier that day, people took to the streets en masse and dozens were arrested in cities across the country, in over 300 solidarity actions targeting US Army Corps offices and banks holding investment in the pipeline. These actions were a response to a call from Honor the Earth, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and many of our closest allied organizations, for an International Day of Action to pressure the Army Corps and the Obama Administration to deny the final permit for the river crossing, and halt this destructive project.
As thousands marched in the streets of Washington DC, a group of 23 members of congress under the leadership of Raul Grijalva sent a letter to President Obama asking him to take immediate action in support of the water protectors at Standing Rock. The letter asked Obama to “deny the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, deploy observers to ensure water protectors and journalists are safe and their rights are upheld, and urge the state of North Dakota to stand down from its escalation of the use of force."
This incredible display of solidarity, as well as the arrival of the drill, all came just just one day after the US Army Corps, on Monday, November 14, issued a statement delaying its decision on the last outstanding easement required for the river crossing, and calling for further consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In that statement, the Corps affirmed that “while these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur.”
screenshot from video by Digital Smoke Signals
While the Corps’ offer to consult with Standing Rock about ways to proceed with the Lake Oahe crossing – additional safety precautions, a possible reroute, etc – is a step in the right direction, this approach bluntly ignores the demands made consistently by the tribes, the grassroots encampment, countless allied environmental organizations, and millions of people standing in solidarity across the globe.
The tribe’s pending lawsuit against the Army Corps for its violations of federal law during the permitting process already thoroughly articulates the tribe’s case. It asks the Corps to permanently vacate the permits and initiate a full Environmental Impact Statement with a survey of cultural resources conducted through formal nation-to-nation consultation. View the main on the ground coalition’s response to the statement and reiteration of demands here.