The Dakota Access Pipeline is a project proposed in 2014 that would cary 450,000 barrels of crude oil every day from North Dakota’s oil field 1,134 miles underground to Illinois, so it can be converted into usable fuel. The project, FYI, is estimated to cost a whopping $3.8 billion. In theory, it would make the entire oil-to-fuel process safer, because it wouldn’t be carried by trains. Obviously, if a train derails while carrying oil…it explodes.
But that’s just in theory. A pipeline would not be a foolproof system for protecting the environment from oil spills, for one. And for two, there’s a problem that Big Oil and the government weren’t anticipating: the protectors of the sacred land near Lake Oahe.
In case you haven’t heard the news, members of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes have been PROTECTING — not protesting — the construction of this pipeline. It is the first time in recent history that so many Native American nations have stood together in solidarity against the government.
For the next installment in our #AskaNativeAmericanGirl series, we invited two young women from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — Wacantkiya Mani and Wanbli Waunsila — to explain what their lives are like since the Pipeline’s construction began.
There are two crucial things for you to understand: The first is that the pipeline crosses Lake Oahe, which is their main source of drinking water. If an oil leak were to happen (and many outlets have reported that this isn’t a scenario of “if” so much as it is a scenario of “when”), it could contaminate their drinking water, putting their health and families at risk. And if you need a primer on what happens when a water supply gets contaminated, look no farther than Flint, Michigan…a community that is still without clean drinking water.
Second, the pipeline will run through an area that they consider sacred — it’s where their ancestors are buried. Construction will literally rip up the remains of their ancestors, and defile a ground they prayed on