After voicing their opposition for years, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has shown their commitment to protecting nature by withdrawing from any further cooperation with the U.S Federal government regarding Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) operations. This marks an important milestone in a long battle against environmental degradation and illustrates how powerful collective action can be when people advocate for what they believe is right.
The main reason the tribe declared that they could no longer participate in the ongoing talks was because of their inability to ascertain the truth surrounding the pipeline planned in their area. It was a transparency issue, and consequently, they decided to break away from all negotiations.
In addition, tribal leaders have been kept out of important conversations between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Energy Transfer, with only limited access granted for emergency planning documents related to potential spills or other hazards caused by the project. Without full engagement with key stakeholders who are most affected by this issue, progress cannot be made on building trust and finding viable solutions moving forward.
Despite the Tribe’s Environmental Response and Coordination (TERC) having desperately requested it, the Corps has refused to provide Standing Rock with their unredacted response plans. This has been a glaring display of lack of coordination and transparency from an organization that typically prides itself on communication. Doug Crow Ghost, Administrator for Water Resources at Standing Rock, notes how disheartening this is for them all.
What Is Standing Rock?
In 2016, the Standing Rock Tribe began a monumental mission to protect their land from an unwanted intruder – the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL. Joined by thousands of allies and protestors across America, they sought justice through legal means, ultimately succeeding in getting Federal Judge James Boasberg to require further study be done into its potential environmental impact according to The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). As a result of this passionate fight for sovereignty over their lands and waters, we now have much needed protection against future threats that could potentially harm our environment.
The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline is poised to stretch from North Dakota all the way through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois. With a direct line running beneath Lake Oahe – the Standing Rock tribe’s only source of freshwater – protest against this project has been intense. Fortunately for those concerned about safety and environmental well-being, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invited tribal representatives to collaborate on their new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Music That United Tribes in Honor of Mother Earth
Back in 2016, when the DAPL protest was going strong, People’s Climate Music and artist Taboo combined forces on their inspirational collaboration, “Stand Up/ Stand N Rock”. This powerful anthem was a call to action in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline project and served as an uplifting chant for indigenous people/Native Americans fighting for justice at Standing Rock.
“Stand Up / Stand N Rock” is an empowering piece that celebrates indigenous strength amidst continued opposition to the DAPL. Led by Shoshone heritage musician Taboo of Black Eyed Peas fame, this poignant song serves as both motivation on their journey towards awareness and a rallying cry for those standing in solidarity with them across America.
Taboo joined forces with some of the most talented, authentic Native American artists across all genres to create an uplifting and powerful track. Tony Duncan’s mesmerizing flute notes combined with Kahara Hodges’ ethereal vocals, Spencer Battiest‘s soulful singing, Drezus’s fiery rap bars and Supaman’s verses in his Apsaalooke tongue truly reflect a celebration of indigenous culture.
For example, despite initially facing difficulty committing his enthusiasm into words, Supaman was inspired by how tribal communities came together for this project which led him to further explore ways he could honor them through music.
“My tribe is Crow, and our traditional enemies are the Lakotas, and they shared a [peace] pipe together at [Standing Rock],” he says. “They haven’t done that in a long time.”
At Standing Rock, Supaman and Drezus have seen a unique kind of collaboration: Indigenous tribes working together in order to protect their way of life. For Drezus, it has been an especially significant experience. The Saskatchewan native remembers being warned by his grandmother against speaking with members of other clans due to long-standing divisions caused by colonization. Now he’s been able to look past these borders – literally as well as figuratively – that were once so deeply ingrained between different peoples on both sides of the US/Canada border. He feels like this movement is not only about reclaiming land but also reconnecting lost cultures separated for too long.
Native culture is thriving despite the struggles it faces in the modern world. “Stand Up” celebrates this resilience, recognizing iconic figures and paying tribute to diverse tribes around the globe. This song was designed not only as an ode to long-term progress but also as a way of empowering Native Americans today.