The indigenous people call it ‘the Black Snake’: the 1,100 mile Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline travels from the North Dakota oil fields to Pakota, Illinois and is planned to carry half a million barrels per day. From the pipeline, the oil is transported to refineries on the Gulf Coast.Earlier, president Obama put a halt to the pipeline constructions after heavy protests in the fall of 2016.
Before that, he had already blocked that other big pipeline: the Keystone XL, a 1,200 mile pipeline that would transport tar sands oil, a highly polluting oil type, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.Right after he took office, president Trump announced with an executive order the revival of both the Dakota and the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline runs through two Native American territories, right past the Standing Rock reservation.The residents are worried that the water in the Missouri river, their drinking water, will soon be polluted by oil spills. Their worries are not unjustified. As recent as December 2016, there was a 176,000 crude oil spill in the river, only 150 miles from the Standing Rock protest site.
What’s more, the pipeline runs through sacred land, where ancestors are buried. In the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the federal government guaranteed ownership of the land to the Sioux, including the land outside of the reservation premises. The U.S. violated the treaty on numerous occasions, leaving an ever-smaller piece of land. In a 1980 court ruling, the Lakota were awarded 15.5 million dollars for violation of the Treaty. To this day, the Lakota have not accepted the money as they say their land is not for sale.
Until recently, the Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro invested in the DAPL project. The investments were controversial and led to several protests at the doorstep of ING offices. ABN Amro decided to withdraw from the project in February 2017. ING followed suit in March 2017.Recently, ING sold a 120 million dollar loan to another party. ING and ABN Amro were among 17 banks that supported the pipeline construction, which costs 3.8 billion dollar to build. Between the two of them, they financed 2.5 billion dollar. Banks like BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Royal and Credit Suisse are also involved. The Sioux hope they will withdraw collectively.