Standing Rock protesters make a statement


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Jessica Wade

Armed with signs and a megaphone, volunteers and members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Inter-Tribal Student Council as well as representatives from the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs stood outside of Milo Bail Thursday with the hopes of raising awareness about the continuously growing protest taking place in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

“We’re here to make people aware of the pipeline being built in North Dakota,” Gretchen Carroll, a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation of Oklahoma and one of the activists, said.

“We don’t need any more pipelines, so many have burst already,” Carroll said. “There’s a movement going on in Standing Rock, and it’s not just a native issue, it’s a human being issue. We cannot drink oil.”

Led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, the protest began in April in response to a proposed oil pipeline that would carry crude oil from northwestern North Dakota to another pipeline in Illinois.

The $3.8 billion project would be built by Energy Transfer Partners and was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Dakota Access, the project’s developer and a sect of Energy Transfer, claims the pipeline would help the United States to become less dependent on foreign suppliers and would create an economic boom in North Dakota.

The proposal was met with immediate concerns over the possible environmental impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Two issues are paramount: the broader one is the use of fossil fuels,” Bruce Johansen, a professor at UNO and the author of multiple books on environmental and Native American issues, said.

Johansen said the two issues stem from environmental problems.

“Scientists believe that if we do not leave most of the oil and gas in the Earth, temperatures will rise too high to be sustainable. People who are protesting also are concerned about water quality and possible oil spills.”

The tribe took the issue to court when they filed a suit against the Army Corps of Engineers in July. A federal judge moved to halt the construction, a small victory for the tribe whose efforts have drawn national attention.

The Army Corps of Engineers may have seen the pipeline as a job-creating opportunity and one of the safest methods to transport oil.

However, many Native Americans and environmental activists see it as a threat to both sacred ground and an important water supply.

In early September, what the nation saw was members of a private security group assaulting peaceful protesters, many of whom were of Native American descent, with dogs and pepper spray.

Students, volunteers and members of the Inter-Tribal Student Council are currently taking donations.

A group plans to travel to Standing Rock over fall break to deliver supplies and show their support for the proteste.