Solidarity with Standing Rock

September 15, 2016

The International Socialist Organization states its support for the brave struggle against a pipeline project that would pollute tribal lands and further endanger the planet.

TODAY, WE are witness to a historic Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Thousands of people, representing over 200 Indigenous nations, along with supporters, have arrived at the Sacred Stone Spiritual Camp to stand up against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

This struggle of the Indigenous nations and many others acting in solidarity has pushed back against the corporations that are destroying our environment by poisoning the water and land and causing further climate change. We owe a debt of gratitude to Native Americans who are standing up for their self-determination--and, through their resistance, for all of us. It is only through grassroots, popular struggles like this one that we will win a better world.

The Dakota Access pipeline, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, would stretch 1,172 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa, before terminating in Illinois.

The $3.8 billion project was begun in 2014 and is supposed to be completed by the end of the year. Once finished, the pipeline would carry a daily load of 570,000 barrels of crude oil extracted through hydraulic fracturing. It would cross 209 rivers, creeks and tributaries, including the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, threatening the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of people further downstream.

Protesters in Chicago take to the streets against the Dakota Access Pipeline
Protesters in Chicago take to the streets against the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for the displacement of thousands of members of the Sioux Nation over the past several generations for land and resource extraction, fast-tracked the Dakota Access pipeline without legally required consultation with tribal governments or completing a mandatory environmental impact statement. The pipeline would come within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservations, whose residents have been on the front lines of resistance since April.

Under the banner of "Mni Wiconi"--Lakota for "Water is life"--Native and non-Native people at Standing Rock are fighting not just for the integrity of vital waterways and ecosystems, but also for the right to Native American self-determination and sovereignty.

They have been attacked by dogs and pepper spray and confronted by riot police and the National Guard. But the images of repression have angered people across the country, leading to an outpouring of solidarity and support from millions of people already outraged by the attacks committed against Black people in the fight against police brutality.

A lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asking for an injunction against further construction was rejected by a federal judge earlier this month. But that same day, the federal government intervened to temporarily block construction on a specific area near the Standing Rock reservation and to promise a greater effort to recognize tribal concerns and decision-making. This move was clearly prompted by pressure from the struggle that has been taking place over the past months. But the fight will not be over until the project is stopped altogether.

The International Socialist Organization stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in support of their right to self-determination and sovereignty, and against the continued extraction of fossil fuels.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is an affront to the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868, and tribal lands today. We call on the United States government to fulfill its treaty obligations and end the destructive practice of fossil fuel extraction that pollutes Native lands and threatens destruction of the entire planet.

As socialists, we stand in solidarity with all oppressed nations in their fight for self-determination and demand that the Dakota Access Pipeline be stopped once and for all.

Further Reading

From the archives