About three and a half years ago, members of the Lakota nation and allies gathered at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, as protesters call it. The pipeline would bring shale oil from northwest North Dakota through to an oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.
The #NoDAPL protesters argued that inevitable leaks from the pipeline would threaten water supplies and ancient burial grounds. For seven months, the protesters tried to stop the pipeline’s construction and faced a police response that included water cannons, strip-searches, and dog kennels. The Daily Beast even reported that National Guard Troops directed two unloaded missile launchers at protesters for their "observation capabilities." Seven months, about 300 injuries and almost 500 arrests later, the movement failed to stop Dakota Access from building the pipeline. The #NoDAPL movement has, however, had somewhat of a ripple effect among indigenous land rights activists, including some closer to home.
The Lakota in Michigan, for one, have spent years lobbying to decommission the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. Enbridge Line 5 carries crude oil and natural gas under the straits that connect lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, at the very northern tip of Lake Michigan. It’s now 66 years old, decades longer than the infrastructure was designed for. Worldview's Ashish Valentine went up to the Straits of Mackinac to check out the 13th annual Rendezvous on the Straits Powwow late last month.There, he had a chance to talk to members of the community about the legacy of Standing Rock and how it informs the current movement to decommission Line 5. Hear from Joe Hock, a member of the Crane Clan who was a water protector at Standing Rock for seven months, and Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Aaron Payment.
Anna Luy Tan and Gabe Broderick contributed reporting.