Native Americans across the nation are rising en masse to protest the construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline.
In what may be the largest gathering of indigenous nations in modern American history, native people continue to fight Dakota pipelines that may reportedly run within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation beneath the Missouri River, polluting the drinking water and disturbing sacred tribal sites.
Despite approaching cold weather and continued blowback efforts from police — including pepper spray, dog attacks and arrests — thousands of Native Americans have encamped around the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers in solidarity and support since midsummer.
Unpa Nunpa, a 48-year-old Standing Rock Lakota whose daughter was one of the first to climb the property fence in defiance of bulldozers at one of the burial grounds, voiced his concern.
“This is the fearless generation,” he did, NBC News reported. “So now we have a generation and there’s hundreds of them just here in this camp, who are fearless and aren’t afraid to get their ass kicked. In fact, they want to kick some ass now.”
Ignited by a lawsuit filed in July against the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that approved the project, Standing Rock Tribe members argued that the company had failed to consult the tribe as required by federal law. The tribe said they are prepared to continue the standoff well into the winter if necessary.
In August, Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency in North Dakota, warning executives at the pipeline company that his administration could no longer “protect their workers adequately.”
Roughly 140 people have been arrested thus far, some of whom reportedly have been subjected to strip-searches and being held for days without bond at at the Morton County jail, even when facing minor misdemeanor charges.
Nevertheless, indigenous tribes from all across the United States continue to support the Standing Rock tribe, reportedly planting corn and willow trees in the pathways of the pipelines on Sept. 25.