For three days, Jacob Crane, a business management major at UVU, traveled just south of Bismarck to the site of the North Dakota Access Pipeline to protest the construction of the pipeline Sept. 8.
The proposed pipeline has generated intense environmental and cultural outcry from both environmentalists and members of Native American tribes, specifically the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation sits dangerously close to the projected pipeline.
Tribe members and environmentalists alike are concerned for the environmental impact the pipeline will have on water systems and the ecology of local terrain.
“We went to Dakota, really to support the Standing Rock Sioux and support the others who were already there,” said Crane. “It was amazing. Everything they are doing over there is important.”
Protests continue to rage at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a pipeline designed to carry roughly 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota 1,172 miles to processing facilities located in Illinois.
Crane said that the camp he visited contained approximately 5,000 supporters and included Native Americans and other protestors, all praying and supporting each other.
“The camps had such an amazing energy, they were huge. It was like being in an Indian camp from a different time. All the tepees and tents were out, people were talking to each other and everyone had the same goal,” said Crane.
Crane is a member of the Tsuut’ina Nation, a First Nations tribe rooted in Canada. While Crane is not directly connected with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, he describes the protest as a place where all First Nation and Native Americans come together to fight for a common goal.
“It was enlightening to be surrounded by all the people. The Standing Rock Sioux brought out a sacred object that had not been used in ceremony since they were at war with the United States over 100 years ago,” said Crane.
Protestors were dealt a heavy blow when the federal court denied tribal requests for an injunction to permanently block the pipeline Sept. 9. This ruling allows energy corporations to continue construction on the land.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is the second major pipeline to be met with large protests within the past 5 years, raising concern for the future of the areas in development and the global impact of increasing oil dependency.
Crane drew similarities between the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline, a pipeline system that runs through Canada and the U.S.
“[We] will stand together and become unified in this,” said Crane. “This is the same damn thing as the Keystone Pipeline, just with a different name and construction methods.”
For now, protesting continues. Crane is hopeful that through common effort, First Nation tribes, Native American tribes and government agencies may work together to reach smarter solutions and preserve the integrity of the planet’s terrain.