Koenig remains skeptical after announcement halting Dakota Access Pipeline

Junior guard says he's "hesitant" and will "keep doing what he has to do"

Koenig scored nine points in his return and keyed a Badger run in the second half. 

Image By: Leah Voskuil

Despite the Department of the Army’s announcement Sunday that the Dakota Access pipeline, initially planned to be built a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, will not be drilled, Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig, a member of the Ho-Chunk nation and outspoken advocate against its construction, remains skeptical that Sunday’s announcement will better the situation that has become a global flashpoint in recent months.

“I was really happy when I first saw it,” Koenig said. “But I remember a few months ago they said Obama shut it down, and that didn’t really happen. So I’m kind of hesitant even still that this is a small victory and there’s still a lot of work to be done with [President-elect] Trump coming in and everything like that. So who knows what can happen, so we’ll see.”

According to the New York Times, President-elect Trump has said as recently as last week that he supported finishing the nearly 1,200 mile pipeline, which crosses four states and is almost complete.

Koenig visited the pipeline this fall prior to the beginning of basketball season, and has been vocal in his support for the protests.

Just last week, Koenig published a more-than-2,000-word story for the Players Tribune, discussing his experience at Standing Rock and his stance on the topic.

“Not a lot of people know about Native American issues, and just Native American culture in general,” Koenig said. “I’m thankful to be able to use my platform to inform and educate people.”

Koenig said that he received “a lot of positive feedback” about his recent story from people in the U.S. and around the world and that he was profoundly struck with the nature of the protests when he visited in the fall.

“It’s kind of funny sometimes when I see negative comments about my articles or just stuff about the pipeline,” Koenig said. “People try to say the protests aren’t peaceful and stuff like that and the sheriff department there lies in the media and stuff like that. For me to actually have been there and see how peaceful it was…It was definitely the most peaceful protest I’ve ever seen or been apart of.”

Even with Sunday’s announcement that the Department of the Army would look for an alternative route for the $3.7 billion pipeline, Koenig said people must continue to bring awareness to the project and other Native American issues.

In recent weeks, the Badger guard has openly stated that he feels a responsibility and is motivated to be a role model for Native American youth as he is one of the few Native Americans in college basketball.

In that regard, Sunday’s announcement that the pipeline will be rerouted hasn’t changed much for him.

“I’m going to keep doing what I have to do,” Koenig said. “I’m going to keep doing what I am doing and bringing awareness to the issue.”

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