The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism

The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism. 2017. In Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities.
Year Published

Starting in April 2016, thousands of people, led by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members, gathered at camps to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—creating the #NoDAPL movement. I am concerned with how critics of #NoDAPL often focus on defending the pipeline’s safety precautions or the many attempts the Army Corps of Engineers made at consulting the Tribe. Yet critics rarely engage what LaDonna Brave Bull Allard calls “the larger story.” To me, as an Indigenous supporter of #NoDAPL, one thread of the larger story concerns how DAPL is an injustice against the Tribe. The type of injustice is one that many other Indigenous peoples can identify with—U.S. settler colonialism. I seek to show how there are many layers to the settler colonial injustice behind DAPL that will take me, by the end of this essay, from U.S. disrespect of treaty promises in the 19th century to environmental sustainability and climate change in the 21st century.