There was a rise of celebration at the Standing Rock Reservation on Sunday, when the Obama administration finally stepped in and released a statement announcing they would not be allowing the easement of a pipeline which endangers sacred lands and water supply of First Nations country in North Dakota.
It was a move that 'water protectors' had been praying for, for months. Over 1 million supporters had made their way to stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples, over the several months of peaceful protest against Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (SXL), a movement which has been largely ignored by mainstream media.
But on the back of the announcement came an official statement from the companies themselves, signalling that the fight may be just beginning:
'ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.'
Speaking to Koori Radio earlier this week, Doug McLean, a protector who has been present at Standing Rock for most of the duration of the stand off, said that although there was a mood of celebration with the announcement from the Obama administration, there was still much work to be done. "What comes next is to stand back and think 'what does this really mean?' There is a super long history of breaking treaties with Native Americans, a long history of politicians backflipping, and there is the dark cloud of Donald Trump looming already, and that is something that we are aware of. Something that is said today could be easily overturned in the future."
There is a super long history of breaking treaties with Native Americans, a long history of politicians backflipping, and there is the dark cloud of Donald Trump looming already, and that is something that we are aware of
The elders of the Sioux tribe, whose land is being protected have called on those present on the site to stay. "They have asked people to stay and stand with them to ensure that this 'black snake', which had been prophesied, does not make it's way in to the river. The company may still just take it upon themselves to just drill in to the river and just pay the fines that they will be up against."