OXFORD, Miss. – A group of students and community members are organizing a solidarity protest on the Union Plaza on Tuesday, Nov. 15th from 2:00 – 6:00 PM in opposition to the North Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) that is currently under construction in North Dakota.
The protest is one of hundreds being held at Army Corps of Engineers sites nationwide on November 15th that hope to pressure President Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump to halt the construction of the pipeline. The protest organizers call for community support with Tuesday’s protest to, “protest the construction of the pipeline and to defend indigenous peoples’ rights to sovereignty over their land and their water and to defend what is sacred,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
Reminiscent of the backlash to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline which was rejected by President Obama in 2015, the North Dakota Access pipeline is being criticized by protesters for putting the water supply of over 10,000 Standing Rock Sioux Native Americans at risk on their own ancestral lands.
The Standing Rock Sioux have sued the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming that the construction of the pipeline violates their cultural and environmental rights under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). However the pipeline is still under construction while the case is being heard in court.
The North Dakota Access pipeline would transport 500,000 barrels a day of shale oil over 1,100 miles, through four states and across Standing Rock Sioux sovereign land. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reported that since 2010, over 3,300 instances of oil and gas pipeline leaks have occurred nationwide, calling into question the safety of the water supply. In response to protesters who have blocked the route of the pipeline, President Obama has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to search for an alternate route that would “accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” but has not signaled that he would halt the project entirely.
Maddie Jewess, a senior International Studies and Mandarin Chinese major from Ocean Springs, is one of the lead organizers for the Oxford protest who sees the pipeline as exploitative and illegal. When asked why she felt compelled to act in solidarity with the protests nationwide, she said, “This pipeline was redirected from an area where it would impact residents of a predominately white community to treaty lands where it is directly destroying and threatening Indigenous peoples’ lives, land and water. This country has a long history of settler colonialism, the genocide and exploitation of Indigenous peoples for their land and resources, and the DAPL will be a continuation of that history unless we stand with Standing Rock and fight against it.”
Click here to view photos of the protest on campus.