Smoke from the Sacred Fire rose from their midst as hundreds of protesters celebrated the announcement that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline would halt. The December 4 victory comes after months of ongoing protests of the 1172 mile pipeline. According to protesters and Standing Rock Sioux tribal leaders, the pipeline risked contaminating the Missouri River’s water supply and violated sacred Standing Rock Sioux lands.
Thousands of protesters braved sub-zero temperatures while police sprayed them with water and pelted them with rubber bullets at the Blackwater Bridge. Over the weekend, an estimated 2000 veterans from the group, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, came to aid the protesters acting as “human shields.”
The move came after the Army Corps of Engineers threatened to evict the protesters and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered a “mandatory evacuation.” President Obama, the Department of Justice and the Department of the interior have ordered an investigation into the environmental impact of the pipeline.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not tunnel under Lake Oahe. Instead, the engineers will find other routes for a pipeline that promises a daily capacity of 470,000 barrels. Standing Rock Sioux tribal leaders have praised the decision. After their announcement, tribal elders and protesters kindled a sacred fire and gathered to celebrate their stunning success.