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Pipeline route halted – for now

By: Paul GraifThe Eastern Door


Konwenni Jacobs is considered a veteran at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

She’s been there for the last six weeks, this being her third trip from her home in Kahnawake. So she took last Sunday’s announcement  – that the US Army Corps of Engineers would look at other options for the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) instead of building it under Lake Oahe – with a sense of cautious optimism.

“This is the third time we have had a quote unquote victory,” Jacobs said. “Yeah right, it’s the third time we saw it stop. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

And so far Jacobs and the Standing Rock Sioux aren’t seeing a stoppage.

“People are leaving. They think we won,” Jacobs said. “This isn’t a victory. Please stay.”

Linda Delormier was also on her third trip from Kahnawake to Standing Rock.

She is doing some filming for the Black Hills Sioux Nation Council and was there when the news broke that the work would stop.

“Everyone was really quiet. Some people were really quiet. Some people were laughing and crying and hugging,” Delormier said. “People were shocked, they couldn’t really believe it. People couldn’t believe that they quote unquote won a battle.”

But she also realizes that this is just one skirmish in a long war against DAPL.

“No, not by a long shot. I went to the sacred fire right after the news came down and everyone was gathering there. Everyone was jubilant and dancing and singing and hugging, it was so wonderful,” Delormier said.

“At the same time they said ‘we’re not going anywhere guys. Let’s see what’s going on. Let’s ask the questions: What does this mean? This is just the beginning. This is about stopping the black snake, not about winning this one battle.’”

The mood has been like a roller coaster in the camps.

“It did quickly become a muted response in some areas,” Delormier said. “I mean we don’t want to take away from the result of it. And people were really happy but they are being realistic as well.”

The big boost in the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock came early last weekend when thousands of military veterans poured into the camps to help.

“It was amazing. It was beautiful,” Delormier said. “People were helping refortify the camp, construct shelters and different things that were in the works for a while. They came in not only to help the people but they came in to help to make sure that we have the strongest footing for whatever work we are going to do next.”

“That was a great day,” said Maddie Lazare, also of Kahnawake. “It started the days before Sunday, the vets were pouring in. It was exciting.”

Lazare was overwhelmed when the news broke.

“Everybody started shouting or crying and hugging each other,” Lazare said. “And we went back to the big sacred fire. The elders were speaking and people were crying and celebrating and we sang and danced.”

But Lazare knows that she may be making another trip to the area in the near future.

“We always know that it’s not over. They say they will continue drilling and pay the fine without the permit and so we’re prepared for that,” Lazare said. “The people here aren’t going anywhere. It’s their land and they’re staying forever.”

Jacobs was joined on Thursday by her mother Cynthia. She’s been showing her around camp. They know everyone remains in it for the long haul. Jacobs says the pipeline companies are drilling again near the water.

“They are paying a $50,000 a day penalty and they are still drilling,” she said.

Jacobs also said that many people are staying despite a request from the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council for the water protectors to go home.

This story was originally published in The Eastern Door on December 3, 2016

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