Controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline is coming to a head as construction crews approach the contested river crossing. Police and protesters are exhausted, but everyone is willing to fight the long fight.
Natives and other protesters demand clean water. They see DAPL as another broken promise and slight against their dignity. They believe the right to the land is theirs, as it is a sacred burial site and provides clean water for their people. Prayer circles and songs are their most common method of protest. They see police action as unjustified; some walk away with unnecessary bruises and injuries from arrests.
“What I said to the police officers when I was sitting down in a prayer circle, I asked them, ‘Don’t you drink water, too? Don’t your children drink water? ” –Mekasi Horinek, activist
Police see the situation differently. The protesters are breaking the law; the land was rightfully given to the company. Some protesters have encouraged violence, potentially harming officers.
At the end of the day, this is a contest of land claims. Who’s land is the river crossing? What rights come with that land? Are there better methods both sides could use to resolve the conflict? Should other mediating bodies involve themselves?