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Standing Rock Sioux tribe rejoices — and digs in — as feds pause pipeline

After federal officials made a surprise announcement that postponed construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe vowed to fight on.
Des manifestants non loin de la réserve de Standing Rock . (Photo par Andrew Cullen/Reuters)

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard was on her way to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, with a group of teenagers from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe when she heard the news.

A judge had ruled against the tribe in its bid to halt the Dakota Access pipeline, which was set to carry crude oil under the Missouri River and, the tribe feared, threaten drinking water and sacred burial grounds.

"I was a little devastated, overwhelmed maybe," Brave Bull Allard told VICE News. She said the tribe planned to pray. "That's all we can do."


But then the devastation turned to jubilation thanks to a surprise statement from federal officials announcing they would not authorize construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Army Corps of Engineers land bordering and under Lake Oahe until they reassess previous decisions.

"We appreciate the District Court's opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act," read a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior. "However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain."

The government called on the pipeline company, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, to voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe.

"In Bismarck, there's a lot of people on the ground," said Brave Bull Allard, a community leader on whose land a camp of demonstrators has grown in recent weeks. "They are dancing and singing in the rain."

'We're trying our best for everyone to hear our voices, especially the government.'

Among them were teenagers Brianna Cabotte and Jordin San. Over the course of the summer, they left their homes at Standing Rock and ran 2,000 miles to Washington, DC — they arrived in early August — in an effort to bring attention to the movement against the pipeline. On Friday, back in North Dakota, they ran to Bismarck for a demonstration.


"I just want to say that I hope they stop the pipeline and I hope they know and think about how it's going to be in 50 years. They should be thinking for the future and how it's going to be then," said Jordin, who is 13. "When they poison our water, where are we going to get it from?"

Added Brianna, who is 15: "We're trying our best for everyone to hear our voices, especially the government. I'm pretty sure they are."

Brave Bull Allard says nobody is leaving the Sacred Stone Camp, which has drawn thousands of Indigenous people from across Canada and the United States to stand in solidarity.

"We are preparing for winter," she said. "We will not leave until every pipe is out of the ground, we will not stop praying until the earth is repaired, we will not stop until all the water is safe."

Follow Natalie Alcoba on Twitter: @nataliealcoba