You turn to us for voices you won't hear anywhere else.

Sign up for Democracy Now!'s Daily Digest to get our latest headlines and stories delivered to your inbox every day.

Water Protectors at Standing Rock React to Obama’s Intervention in Dakota Access Pipeline Battle

Media Options

In a dramatic series of moves on Friday, the White House intervened in the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline, less than an hour after a federal judge rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction against the U.S. government over the pipeline. “It’s not a solid victory now but just the weight, feeling that weight that I’ve been carrying for the last couple months is lifting. I feel like I could breathe right now,” says Floris White Bull. We feature the reactions to government’s intervention from some of the thousands of Native Americans who have gathered along the Cannonball River by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the pipeline’s construction.

Related Story

Web ExclusiveDec 04, 2016Breaking: Obama Admin Halts Dakota Access Pipeline Construction after Months of Resistance
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with major updates in the fight by Native Americans to stop the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and members of hundreds of other tribes from across the United States and Canada who flocked to North Dakota in what’s being described as the largest unification of Native American tribes in decades.

In a dramatic series of moves late Friday afternoon, a federal judge rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction against the U.S. government over the Dakota Access pipeline. Then, the Army, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior responded with a joint announcement that the Army Corps will not issue permits for Dakota Access to drill under the Missouri River until the Army Corps reconsiders its previously issued permits. In a statement, the Department of Justice said, quote, “(c)onstruction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time,” unquote. The federal agencies also asked the Dakota Access pipeline company to voluntarily cease construction 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe.

The government’s intervention was welcomed by thousands of Native Americans who have gathered along the Cannonball River by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the pipeline’s construction. Here are some of their reactions.

FRANCINE GARREAU HALL: Francine Garreau Hall. I’m with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. I’m Miniconjou, Itazipcho and Hunkpapa bands of the Teton Lakota. I am very grateful, because in our government-to-government relationship, the federal government is bound by treaty law to protect our interests. And I’m glad that they stepped up to the plate today and did that.

I think all the American people need to recognize and they need to realize that this isn’t a racial deal. This is something that impacts all of us. We all, as children of God, have a right to clean water. And that’s what this fight is about. It’s about recognizing that mni wiconi, water is life. And without it, we all die. And so, we are protecting water for the future generations. I had to be here, because I wanted—it was my time to be accountable. Seven generations from now, I want my grandkids and their children to say, “She stood, so that we could have clean water.”

BILL PICOTTE: My name is Bill Picotte. I’m a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Like everybody else, I think I’m pretty happy with the decision for them to step in. I know that maybe it’s not the end of the battle, but at least today, you know, we celebrate a small victory. You know, there are still things to be considered. And I think, at least for me, it appears that they want to do things fairly.

Hopefully, there will be more tribal consultation, and not just with Standing Rock, but with all tribal nations, in the future. Maybe this will show the United States and the world that, I think, Native American people are tired of being walked on, tired of being taken for granted, tired of being invisible, and that we’re going to stand up for ourselves. And I’ve seen some atrocious things, to me, you know? The girl that was bit in the chest was my cousin, you know? And there were pictures on Facebook of that, and I was heartbroken for her, you know? I think I can say that I’m proud of the way we’ve behaved and we’ve acted throughout this.

FLORIS WHITE BULL: Floris White Bull from Standing Rock. My father is from here, Standing Rock. I’m a student as Sitting Bull College. It’s not a solid victory right now, but it’s just the weight, feeling that that weight that I’ve been carrying for the past couple months now, it’s lifting. And I feel like I could breathe right now.

AMY GOODMAN: The Native Americans, who call themselves “protectors,” not “protesters,” have repeatedly forced the Dakota Access pipeline company to stop construction by locking themselves to machinery. On Saturday, September 3rd, over Labor Day weekend, Dakota Access pipeline company unleashed dogs and pepper spray on Native Americans as they attempted to stop the company from destroying a sacred tribal burial site.

WATER PROTECTOR: These people are just threatening all of us with these dogs. And she, that woman over there, she was charging, and it bit somebody right in the face.

AMY GOODMAN: The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth.

WATER PROTECTOR: And she’s still standing here threatening us.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you letting their—her dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood!

AMY GOODMAN: That was September 3rd. To see our full report, go to The bulldozers and company security guards were ultimately forced to retreat. We’re going to break. When we come back, we’ll go to North Dakota to speak with Dave Archambault, the chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Jan Hasselman in Seattle, Washington, staff attorney with Earthjustice who brought the tribe’s lawsuit to federal court. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Ana Tijoux singing a cover of Víctor Jara’s “Luchín.” It was released on Sunday, on 9/11. 9/11/1973, Salvador Allende, the democratically elected leader of Chile, died in the palace as the Augusto Pinochet forces came to power.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Next story from this daily show

In Dramatic Reversal, White House Halts Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Under Missouri River

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation