The Standing Rock Pipeline: Facts before Takeoff

It’s 5 a.m. when I awake. I dreamed of a pipeline.


I could snooze another 40 minutes, but I need a pre-departure shower…


It may be my last in four days.

road sign approaching standing rock

I’ve camped before—festivals, farms, wilderness. But before, there has always been a foreknowledge toward what the outing would hold. On this morning, there is none.

What I can say is that by tonight I’ll have squeezed into a -40° sleeping bag within a double-wall tent, the air outside will be well below freezing, and my mother—the only person who volunteered to accompany me on this junket—will be zipping up beside me.

It seems paltry, this small handful of facts.

Even for a non type-A personality, I am decidedly unsettled by the dearth of information I’ve been able to gather in preparation for Standing Rock.

A child of the internet age, I began searching the web long before Google existed. A mix of tech-savvy and pure stubborn always ensured prevention of being thwarted when seeking online answers.

And yet:

It is as though the Standing Rock Protest hardly exists. Not online, not on the news.

Where are the stories hiding? Where is the news coverage?

There are tidbits here and there: Dogs released upon women and children. A protester firing a gun. Rubber bullets from gas-masked sentries.

Though corroborated, they all read somehow as rumors. Distant tales.

Like the prevailing absence of media coverage—caused by impending elections, we hope—makes us reluctant to accept a truth with implications already too terrible to fathom.

What are the facts about Standing Rock?

1. Land belonging to the Native Americans under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 is simply being taken back for the purposes of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Because the Natives already have so much land, right?

TWO PERCENT. Yes, 2% is how much land Native Americans have in the United States. 52.6 million acres out of 2.3 billion total.

Fewer than three hundred years ago, they had it all.


2. The DAPL claims that the Standing Rock pipeline would be efficient and non-hazardous to the environment

Wait…In the past six years, there have been at least 3,300 national pipeline leaks.

Pipeline accidents have cost America over four billion dollars in the past ten years ($4,009,443,331, to be exact).

Adding insult to injury, existing technology to detect leaks still works about as well as a child hunting lizards in the woods.

Oh, and also:

Leaks from the estimated 17,000 gallons of oil that would speed through the pipeline every minute would unavoidably pollute the region’s water supply and no doubt disrupt the land in other damning* ways.

Oh…and also:

The pipeline is an investment toward increasing America’s dependence on fossil fuels—a step in the opposite direction needed if we are to reach our Paris Agreement goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2026.

How can I put this…

Why isn’t the $3.78 billion cost of the pipeline going toward expanding research on sustainable energy?


3. Ancient burial grounds and sacred land have already been destroyed by the DAPL

And there’s more where that came from if the pipe continues being lain.

Oh. And also

I should remind you that the desecrated areas belonged to the tribes under the Treaty of 1851.

Could you imagine this happening to your family? Your people?


What’s true? What’s happening? I guess there’s only one way to find out. Wish me luck at Standing Rock!


Do you think the coverage the DAPL issue is weak? Do you have an opinion of the going-ons…I mean, what do you know!?

Let’s hear it—leave a comment (and sign up for the email list)!

Share This