How Dakota Pipeline Protest Became a Native American Cry for Justice
The year 2016 may become a turning point for Native American leadership in environmental activism, as a once-small protest over a little-known pipeline in rural North Dakota captured the imaginations of people worldwide and erupted into a global protest action.
The fight against Dakota Access, a nearly 1,200-mile pipeline from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois, became this year's Keystone XL, a celebrated fossil fuel project ultimately rejected by the Obama administration in the face of unrelenting opposition from environmentalists and landowners.
Dakota Access is halted but its fate is by no means settled. It is not the first major pipeline being constructed since Keystone XL perished. And Native Americans were not the first to oppose it, with Iowa landowners having raised their voices more than a year earlier. Yet when thousands of American Indians set up camp on the open prairie demanding their drinking water be protected, the world took notice.