Five years have passed since the world saw the Standing Rock Sioux tribe oppose the construction of the Dakota Acess pipeline just north of their tribal territory. And, the pipeline continues to be a source of division to this day.
So what’s at stake? Research shows that if the pipeline were to shut down during the environmental review, it would initially result in the loss of 3,000 direct upstream jobs during an initial shutdown period. If indirect jobs are added in other related sectors, as well as indirect workers in the economy, such as restaurants and grocery stores, the total loss would be 7,400 jobs.
It would also result in the loss of $ 912 million in state production taxes for North Dakota and Montana, during the analysis.
In our first part of this series monday evening, we explored how NoDAPL was a pivotal period for solidarity among indigenous peoples.
Tuesday we have a different discussion.
For Joseph McNiel Jr., a member of the Standing Rock Tribe, NoDAPL was a landmark period for Indigenous sovereignty.
“It rocked, you know, it was like a big rock falling into the lake and these ripples went around the world,” said McNeil Jr., managing director of the SAGE Development Authority.
The message resonated far beyond North Dakota.
“Protecting our lands, protecting our sacred sites, protecting our water, protecting our children, and we didn’t expect anyone to show up,” McNeil said.
Thousands of water protectors arrived, including representatives from over 300 tribal nations.
It was an expression of Indigenous sovereignty seen by the world.
A key moment was September 6, 2016.
Protesters walked through a fence to access the pipeline construction. They stopped the bulldozers from turning the earth. They were greeted by private security and charged with trespassing.
“What really got people going that day was that we were told, I mean the pipeline was going to come in, they discovered resources and they demolished them – they destroyed them – and there is a reason we have cultural resources. These cannot be touched at all. You have to find a way around them, a border to protect them, ”said Fawn Wasin Zi, who worked for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes Land Management Office.
In the process, the tribe renewed and deepened its commitment to self-determination.
Now, with the same spirit, Standing Rock is seizing a new opportunity to stand up for what they believe.
We followed Joseph Smith, Director of Land Management for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, to the main site where the SAGE Development Authority is building a 235 megawatt wind farm and 60 wind turbines, Anpetu Wi (“morning light”) in Lakota.
“You can see that five minutes ago it was pretty quiet. Now it’s blowing pretty well, depending on the altitude and the wind, ”Smith said.
Here in the Porcupine Hills, the SAGE Development Authority is building several wind turbines along this ridge line. Now Standing Rock owns Anpetu Wi wind farm, so they do a lot of pre-development work including cultural resource surveys and the idea is not to rely on anything that is sacred to the tribe and its members.
“We did it in some of those turbine sites where the initial recommendation was to put in a turbine, once it was studied we said, ‘Well, we have to move it.’ And they were able to adjust it so not too far. Always in the area for the best wind, ”said Smith.
At all levels, Anpetu Wi Wind Farm represents who they are. NoDAPL helped financially launch the project.
“So in the days of NoDAPL, President Archamboldt received a $ 200,000 award from the Wallace Global Fund for the work we did with NoDAPL, the work we did with the environment, and he told me. spoke and he said I wanted this to be reserved for the wind. Farm, ”said Fawn Wasin Zi, chair of the board of directors of the SAGE Development Authority.
The tribe is using their worldwide fame gained through NoDAPL to run an online crowdsourcing campaign that raised $ 225,000 to reach their goal of $ 420,000.
“We have an interest in this process, through the development phase, through the ownership phase, where we increase our level of ownership over time. It is community led, it comes from the board, it benefits the community for the infrastructure. And that helps us. This spirit that we carried here years ago continues to live on in the hearts of people. And, they want to see a win, ”McNeil said.
The SAGE Development Authority hopes that the project can be a model for other communities. McNiel will speak with Jane Fonda about the project on her podcast this Friday.