Tribe leaders vow to protest Dakota pipeline through winter


The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry oil crude oil from North Dakota to IL.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion oil pipeline that would transport crude oil from North Dakota to a processing center in IL, because they believe it threatens their water supply and sacred lands.

Authorities arrested 141 people on Thursday in an hours-long confrontation north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation as law enforcement in riot gear and military equipment removed protesters from the highway and property owned by the pipeline company. About half a dozen law enforcement vehicles were parked along the highway near Cannon Ball, a town about 50 miles south of Bismarck.

Students spent several days amidst demonstrators, not as activists, but for prayer, support, dance and blessings. They also said the pipeline could disturb sacred cultural sites.

Authorities said they had arrested 117 people and confirmed two instances of gunshots in the latest flare of tensions over a controversial oil pipeline project. "There are still windows of opportunity to disrupt construction".

Sheriff's spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said earlier Sunday that a county commissioner estimated the fire burned about 400 acres.

Standing Rock has waged a protest for months against the four-state, thousand-mile pipeline being developed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to carry North Dakota crude to a shipping point in Patoka, Illinois.

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Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other supporters are trying to halt construction of the almost 1,200-mile pipeline that the tribe says threatens its water sources and cultural sites. Millions of people witnessed the arrests over social media; the police have exposed themselves as protectors of private property and the oil companies, and as agents of ongoing colonialism.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault called the action "violence against innocent, prayerful people". More than 400 protesters have been arrested since August 10. He said it was only after other tribes, including the Red Lake Nation and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota, inquired about financial contributions that leaders made a decision to accept money for legal costs.

Construction is continuing on sections of the pipeline away from the Missouri River, Garland said. The affected area includes land under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River where the line was supposed to cross.

Anti-fracking champions continue to argue that the Dakota oil pipeline desecrates tribal burial grounds despite various surveys showing the project went to extraordinary lengths to avoid trampling on hollowed ground.

Opposition to the pipeline has been backed by celebrities and actors, including Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley, Susan Sarandon, Chris Hemsworth and Riley Keough. Videos of the clashes on Thursday show a man in a white sweatshirt, jeans and a black ponytail pushing demonstrators toward an advancing line of police.

"I've been doing my part by getting a safe and secure area where people can gather, speak their mind, chant, hold signs - just let people know and get that message out that we're a group of people who are nonviolent", said Kirsten Kelsch, 47, who organized the event and is married to a member of the Standing Rock Sioux.