Thousands of people have come together in support of Native American activists to protest against the construction of a crude oil pipeline in North Dakota.
Protesters have assembled near the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers, where the pipeline is expected to go through. If the pipeline is completed, it would go through a sacred burial ground, and, if a leak were to occur, it has the potential to pollute the nearby rivers which provide water to the local tribes.
The group of protesters include representatives for 200 tribes, environmentalists and has even gathered the support of public figures such as actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
Due to the efforts of lawyers representing the tribes, construction has since been halted on the $3.7 billion dollar project due to a temporary restraining order issued by Judge James Boasberg. Boasberg's pending decision to allow the challenge to the pipeline would result in the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the permits allowing the construction to continue. The final ruling will ultimately determine if construction work is to resume.
The proposed pipeline would carry oil from just north of North Dakota, eventually connecting to an existing pipeline to oil refineries in the U.S Gulf Coast. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers has been facing protests on the project since April, but the project is "envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains."
This protest is one of the more recent moves by Native American groups such as the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The reservation, as well as other environmental groups, has previously attempted to stop or alter pipelines that could go through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas.
The ruling from the judge could result in positive momentum for Native American activism's efforts to protect sacred lands.
"Our indigenous people have been warning for 500 years that the destruction of Mother Earth is going to come back and it's going to harm us," said Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault. "Now our voices are getting louder."