(by Boshra Yazahmeidi)
It was a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of Dakota when on December 4 last year, the Army Corps of Engineers made the decision to prevent drilling under the Missouri River, which is close to Sioux lands.
This victory was hard-won with months of protests that touched tens of thousands of people, many of whom came to Standing Rock to show their support.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project is a 1,720-mile pipeline transporting 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of oil per day between North Dakota and Illinois. A section of its route would cross through the Sioux lands and would require drilling under the Missouri River to let the pipe through. However, the Standing Rock Sioux objected to this development since learning about it in late 2014 for fear that it would jeopardize their water source and sacred sites.
With these protests having spurred the largest gathering of Native American tribes in more than a century, the victory is significant, and in the words of Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, “For once our voices are being heard and the right decision was made”.
However, the fight is far from over as the new US President-elect has shown strong support for the project and the decision could be reversed.
According to the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility, the investor community has an important role to play now in engaging the banks that have provided loans for the DAPL. The change in oil markets since 2014 has also meant that investments are now more risky. Civil society and individuals have a role to play in urging the banks and energy companies to adopt human rights criteria that recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples.