By Caitlin Flynn
The months-long protest over the construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) resulted in more than 100 arrests on Thursday, Oct. 27, following a clash with local police, State Troopers and the National Guard. More than 180 Native American Tribes have signed a letter of solidarity in opposition to the construction of the pipeline, which protesters believe disrupts sacred lands and compromises the area’s sole source of water, according to The Guardian.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers used pepper spray and high-pitched tones to slowly push away more than 200 protesters that were camped on private land adjacent to the construction site. According to Washington Post, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office said at least 141 protesters have been arrested. Huffington Post reported that among the protestors was Divergent star Shailene Woodley, who drew attention to the event by posting a live Facebook video of the protest and her subsequent arrest.
According to Washington Post, police said one protester fired three shots from a .38-caliber revolver toward the police as she was being arrested. The same news outlet reported that the woman was taken into custody with no injuries and without police returning fire.
A joint statement from the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be halting construction on the pipeline until further notice, and the government will take steps to consult Native American communities in future development plans.
“The tribes have always paid the price for America’s prosperity,” said David Archambault II, Standing Rock tribal chairman, in an editorial from September when the protest began, according to The Guardian.
The region that includes the Indian Reservation called Standing Rock has one source of clean water, the Missouri River, according to The Guardian. The construction of the DAPL would go underneath America’s longest river, not only compromising the region’s clean water supply, but potentially all the areas that it flows through, including a connection to the Mississippi River that runs into the Gulf of Mexico.
The pipeline, which will bring dirty crude extracted from the Bakken oil shale Northwest of North Dakota to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, will disrupt ancient sacred land and Native American burial sites, according to The Guardian.
The mostly peaceful protest has been marked not only by the attention it brings to the potential environmental consequences, but also the unity of the Native American tribes in the region. According to The Guardian, hundreds of teepees and tents with large painted signs that read “Water is Life” and “No DAPL” lay just outside construction zones filled with bulldozers and industrial equipment.
According to Washington Post, Archambault said in a statement on Thursday that the law enforcement’s response was militarized.
“We won’t step down from this fight,” Archambault said. “As peoples of this earth, we all need water. This is about our water, our rights and our dignity as human beings.”