The naysaying started immediately, within seconds of the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers would not approve the easement for the DAPL crossing of the Missouri River at the border of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
"Oh, you savages haven't really won anything! You'll see!"
Yes, well. Noted.
Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, was asked by a reporter minutes after the announcement if he thought this ruling meant that this fight was over. He gave her a look the way he does and considered for a moment. "Yes," he said, "it's over." Since I know he's not delusional -- no one in the public eye seems more grounded in reality at the moment -- it was obvious to me that he was "making a statement."
The fight that's been going on for months, this fight, is done. Victory to the Water Protectors and their allies around the world. The overall struggle, beyond this phase, in this place, for these ends and objectives, is continuing. And there may well be more struggles over the pipeline at Standing Rock. That's a given.
And of course, forces are marshaled to overturn the ruling denying the easement. Many observers wonder if the pipeline company has gone ahead with their drilling anyway and will announce the completion of the work sooner rather than later. That's as may be. And that would mark a different phase of the struggle or perhaps a different struggle altogether.
What the Water Protectors have won is what they were asking for: a thorough Environmental Impact Statement, consideration of re-routing the pipeline away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, consultation with the Tribe over any project of its kind, and respect for Treaties and Treaty rights.
All of these things were requested/demanded from the Corps and the regulatory bodies well before the project started construction, as made clear in the recording of the Tribal Council meeting of September 30, 2014 that I posted earlier. There really were no new demands by the Tribe through all the twists and turns of the actions by Water Protectors and the so-called "law enforcement" of the region (supplemented by mercenaries from other areas and private companies.)
What the Tribe wanted was all very clear and was based on the requirements of the laws that were flagrantly ignored by North Dakota, the Army Corps, and by the pipeline companies. At no time were Tribal officials requesting or demanding anything outside the requirements of those laws. They were demanding that the laws be observed.
If those laws were observed and the pipeline went through anyway, the Tribe would still object, but at least the pipeline would be a lawful (if wrong) intrusion -- of which there have been so many over the centuries.
But in this case, North Dakota, the Army Corps, and the pipeline companies appeared to collude in order to circumvent the laws in existence that regulated pipeline routing and construction, and which required close consultation with Tribal interests along any proposed route, required a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement, and required respect for and honoring of Tribal Treaties.
This collusion to circumvent the laws regarding these matters was the core of the objections by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the pipeline. Of course there were many other reasons to object, most of which were highlighted during the campaign by the Water Protectors.
So, after months of campaigning against the pipeline, a campaign that attracted world-wide support, and after hundreds of arrests on bogus charges, after hundreds were injured (some seriously) in police assaults on Water Protectors, and after the pipeline was nearly completed, and after thousands of veterans assembled at Standing Rock to protect the Water Protectors from the pipeline protectors the government in Washington and the Army Corps in (Nebraska?) bestirred themselves to declare: "Ooops, we shoulda done this the right way, shouldn't we? Let's have a do-over, mkay?"
It's not too little, too late, it's more like WTF?
But this isn't anything new to the Tribes. They know WTF inside and out.
So. This is an important victory, despite the naysayers. Anything could happen from this point. A spanner has been thrown in the works, and at least temporarily the actual regulations and laws about these things are supposed to be followed.
Nevertheless, the pipeline may still be finished on the current route and even on the current schedule (though that's unlikely -- even if Trump reverses the ruling by the Corps.)
I think everybody involved in the campaign is aware of that, and has been all along.
And the campaign isn't ending.
My understanding is that the camp "Oceti Sakowin" will remain at least until these matters are settled. Some of the veterans will stay on site for the duration; they're not going anywhere. Their assignment and duty is to protect the Water Protectors come what may. The numbers in the camp will fluctuate as they have throughout the campaign to date (I heard that yesterday there were an estimated 16,000 in the camp or more). There is little doubt that the pipeline companies in collusion with the authorities in North Dakota -- but without overt federal support at least until the Trump regime takes power -- will attempt to circumvent law and suppress the Water Protectors as they have been accustomed to do.
This is not naysaying, it's reality, one that the Standing Rock Sioux and the Water Protectors know all too well.
The struggle continues.
Yesterday's victory is gratifying. It gives courage to those of us who seek a better future for us all.
Much gratitude to the Water Protectors who have shown us the way.