Background on the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation is home to Dakota and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Since time immemorial, they have lived and governed a vast territory throughout North and South Dakota, and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Currently, the Tribe is located in central North and South Dakota.

Despite strong objections from the Tribe from the first time they heard of the project, on July 25, 2016, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers granted authorization to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe as part of the construction of a 1,100 mile pipeline that is proposed to carry over a half-million barrels of Bakken crude oil to Illinois and across four states. The current route of construction takes the pipeline less than one half mile from the Tribe’s reservation border, and thus the Tribe maintains a sovereign interest in protecting its cultural resources and patrimony that remain with the land. In addition, all along the route of the pipeline are sites of religious and cultural significance to our people – including burial sites of our ancestors. The pipeline would cross the Tribe’s traditional and ancestral lands and the construction of the pipeline jeopardizes many sacred places. But, while federal law requires meaningful consultation with the Tribe on these matters, that has not happened here. The Tribe opposes DAPL because we must honor our ancestors and protect our sacred sites and our precious waters.


Initially, Dakota Access considered two possible routes of construction: a northern route near Bismarck, and the southern route taking the pipeline to the border of the Standing Rock reservation. Federal law requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review—and ultimately deny or grant—Dakota Access’ application for the necessary permits to construct the pipeline because the southern route takes the pipeline across the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, implicating lands and water under federal jurisdiction.

In the initial environmental assessment, the maps utilized by Dakota Access—and reviewed and incorporated by the Army Corps—did not indicate that the Tribe’s lands were within one half mile of the proposed crossing of Lake Oahe. Furthermore, the company selected this route because the route to the north would be near and could jeopardize the drinking water of the residents in the city of Bismarck. The company’s initial draft environmental assessment of December 9, 2015 made no mention of the fact that the route they chose brings the pipeline near, and could jeopardize, the drinking water of the Tribe and its citizens. It actually omitted the very existence of the tribe on all maps and any analysis, in direct violation of the US environmental justice policies.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been actively opposing the permitting and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since the Tribe first learned of the proposal in 2014 and the pipeline’s proposed construction. The Tribe has voiced its strong opposition to the company, to the federal government, to Congress, and to the State. Yet, the Tribe’s plea was ignored and instead the US sided with the project developer. From the beginning, the Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office requested tribal consultation, but their requests were never fulfilled.

The Tribe continued its efforts to engage as many decision-makers as possible and actively oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Tribe submitted several sets of detailed comments to the Corps, met with high level officials in Washington, DC, and communicated on numerous occasions with the North Dakota Congressional delegation over the past few months. The Tribe specifically met with numerous federal agencies to discuss the harm imposed by the pipeline, including: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. All three agencies subsequently wrote letters to the Army Corps expressing environmental and cultural resource concerns related to the pipeline.

The Tribe has filed litigation in federal court in the District of Columbia to challenge the actions of the Corps of Engineers regarding the Dakota Access pipeline. Basically, this is a suit to enforce their federally protected rights and interests. The Corps has failed to follow the law – both regarding the risk of oil spills and the protection of their sacred places. The Tribe is seeking a preliminary injunction to undo the Corps’ approval of the pipeline, and there will be a hearing before the Judge on August 24. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has asked to join the lawsuit, and other tribes may also be joining.


Separately, tribal citizens have begun a camp called the Sacred Stone Camp. The Tribe continues to stress the importance of handling this matter in the right way, which means that non-violence must be the guiding principle at all times. And, the Tribe will do all it can so that the safety of everyone involved is safeguarded and protected.

In addition, Standing Rock youth ages 6 – 25 from the reservation vowed to run to Washington, DC to deliver a petition with 160,000 signatures on opposing the pipeline to the President of the United States. After running for 2,200 miles, they were only able to meet with Army Corps officials, and held several rallies along the way. They returned to the reservation on August 10, 2016.

Several Tribes have passed resolutions in support of Standing Rock, including the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and others. To find out how to take action and get involved, please visit

Posted by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

11 thoughts on “Background on the Dakota Access Pipeline

  1. Pingback: Background on the Dakota Access Pipeline — LRInspire | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  2. These pipelines have proven over and over again that they are a disaster waiting to happen and the only ones who benefit from them are big oil!! The government needs to stop letting them destroy destroy the lands that people have worked hard to save!!

  3. We are not dealing with a ‘government’ anymore, not since the Act of 1871. This Act created the United States Corporation or what we know as the District of Columbia (Washington, DC). The U.S. Government we all think we know ceased to exist. Now, this was done by a specific group of people with a specific type of agenda. Why do you think they killed President Lincoln. It wasn’t some lone gunman as is always the case even today. The Corporation was set in place and the citizen agenda was born for a population slave work force that could be taxed and controlled. Anyone claiming to be a U.S. Citizen is pledging their allegiance to the District of Columbia and cannot be an American (free individual). So, when speaking about a corporation such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, you are speaking about a, D.C. conglomerate of the D.C. Now it has overstepped it’s bounds because, even though there is a Congress that makes laws, the D.C. was only allotted jurisdiction within the boundaries of what is the District of Columbia encompassing sixty-eight (68) square miles.
    Now, this change of 1871 was done deceptively and started slowly and gradually that no one, no one noticed, and if they did they were taken care of. These people of the Corporational form of government could lie, cheat and steal from the American people and anyone, like the American Indian. The government was changed without the consent of the people. So, as a corporation, it could implement anything it wanted over a long period of time. We are now seeing the results of that as the Corporation is robbing and cheating it’s citizens, breaking treaties, breaking land holdings (destroying the White and Indian cattle livelihoods in Nevada, Utah and elsewhere just to name recent activities. Some communities can’t catch rain water. State, municipal, local and tribal government structures have been infiltrated with the same corporate ideology thinkers. They are controlled and set forth control on the citizens.
    Another thing is as the Corporate monster grows and extends itself with agencies or bureaucracies it has to have the ‘consent of the people’, because there still was the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They still had to follow these or the people would have rioted and fought back. that’s why the gradual progression. Over a decade ago it had to comply when it tried to do something underhanded and was caught. An example when the Sho-Bans blocked a radiological highway shipment and a U.S. Naval Nuclear Shipment forcing corporate and military to sit at the table to work out consent. Now as the Corporation is so large and getting ready for a revolution of war and genocide it is breaking the laws, it’s own laws. This is better explained in a video. We need to know who we are dealing with.

  4. Pingback: Sioux Tribe stands in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline « War Dog 6 Actual: Rumor Control

  5. Pingback: Supporting the Fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline by Matt Remle | LRInspire

  6. Pingback: We Stand with Standing Rock | American Indian OIC

  7. Pingback: Supporting the Fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline -

  8. At the beginning you say “Despite strong objections from the Tribe from the first time they heard of the project, on July 25, 2016,… ”

    Later you say “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been actively opposing the permitting and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since the Tribe first learned of the proposal in 2014 and the pipeline’s proposed construction.”

    The beginning of your article makes it seem that they learned of this project 2 months ago, but later on you say they opposed it 2 years ago.

    Am I missing something?

    • That sentence says that despite the tribe having objected to the DAPL since the first time they heard about it in 2014, the Army Corps approved permits on July 25th. Hope that clarifies.

  9. I’m writing an Op-Ed for my school’s newspaper The Oracle ( and was wondering if you had any photographs from Standing Rock/the camps that I could include in my article. If you do, can you please send them to the email listed and include who the credit for the image should go to.

    Thank you!

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