Native Americans celebrate pause of North
Dakota pipeline, vow to fight on
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[September 12, 2016]
By Dave Thompson
CANNON BALL, N.D. (Reuters) - Native
Americans protesting construction of a North Dakota oil pipeline near
land they consider sacred on Saturday quietly celebrated the U.S.
government's decision to pause construction on federally owned land, and
vowed to press for a full halt to the project.
On Friday, the Obama administration temporarily halted construction on
federal land of the planned pipeline that has angered the Standing Rock
Sioux Tribe, and asked the company behind the project to suspend nearby
The move came shortly after a federal judge in Washington rejected a
request from Native Americans for a court order to block the project.
The government's action reflected the success of growing protests over
the proposed $3.7 billion pipeline crossing four states which have
sparked a renewal of Native American activism.
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose tribal lands are a half-mile south of the
proposed route, say the pipeline would desecrate sacred burial and
prayer sites, and could leak oil into the Missouri and Cannon Ball
rivers, on which the tribe relies for water.
On Saturday, many activists in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, touted the
latest victory, but said its temporary nature meant they would not end
their protests, echoing Friday statements by Standing Rock Sioux
"This could go all winter, and into next summer,” said Lance Dorian,
spokesman for a group from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota that
has set up camp on the south side of the Cannon Ball River, on Standing
Rock land. “We’re in it for the long haul.”
His tribe had set up big Army-style tents as well as a kitchen.
With prayer and song as well as the occasional drum beat in the
background, activists vowed not to leave.
“We won the day,” said environmental activist John Wauthen from
Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “There’s a long fight still ahead of us.”
[to top of second column]
Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota
Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in
Cannon Ball, North Dakota. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Opposition to the pipeline has drawn support from 200 Native
American tribes, as well as from activists and celebrities.
Speaking from the red carpet at the Toronto International Film
Festival world premiere of "Snowden" on Friday, actress Shailene
Woodley, who has backed efforts to halt the pipeline, lauded the
U.S. government's decision.
"It's about damn time," she said. "I'm extremely grateful and I hope
that momentum continues to move forward."
Dakota Access, subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP that is
building the pipeline, declined to comment on Saturday.
Brigham McCown, an industry consultant and former head of pipeline
regulator U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, said the federal action came "out of left field" and
"We don’t know what the implications are, other than that it's going
to have a huge chilling effect on our national ability to move
forward with infrastructure projects," he said.
(Reporting by Dave Thompson in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Catherine
Ngai and Joseph Ax in New York and Rollo Ross in Toronto, Writing by
Ben Klayman; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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