Campus News

Student leaders respond to potential rerouting of Dakota Access pipeline

Several UW-Madison student organizations that participated in activism against the Dakota Access pipeline refuse to stop fighting for the cause following the news that discussions will be held to move the construction.

Image By: Cardinal File Photo-Ben Davis

UW-Madison students who participated in the activism against the Dakota Access pipeline say they are satisfied with The Army Corps of Engineers’ Sunday decision to look for alternative routes, but know that their jobs are not done.

The construction of the pipeline drew thousands of protesters, who believed spills from the pipeline could contaminate the tribe’s drinking water, to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe land, a reservation that is half a mile from the pipeline.

Members of the student organizations Climate Action 350 and the Sierra Student Coalition traveled to Standing Rock to help winterize the camp. They brought 10,000 pounds of food donations, which were collected in a drive organized by the groups.

Climate Action 350 also coordinated a rally on National Day of Action in solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters. Climate Action 350 coordinator Lauren Peretz said the group is going to continue working to assist the Water Protectors.

“We are beyond ecstatic that the Obama administration finally stepped up and did the right thing by not granted the easement,” Peretz said. “While this is a huge victory for Standing Rock and the Water Protectors, it is important to realize that the fight is not over … when [Donald] Trump becomes president he could override Obama's decision and allow the easement … we will continue our efforts to support the Water Protectors at Standing Rock.”

Indigenous student organization Wunk Sheek contributed to the efforts at Standing Rock by raising more than $2,000 to donate to the tribe through a GoFundMe page. They also raised awareness around UW-Madison about the issues at hand.

Wunk Sheek Co-President Emily Nelis said the group, like Climate Action 350, is celebrating the news, but is aware that the pipeline is not completely denied. They have been told that protesters are not leaving the site until the decision is final, and Wunk Sheek will not stop their activism either.

“The indigenous voice is often overlooked or unacknowledged in many cases, but it is necessary to have our voices heard,” Nelis said. “We hope that by spreading awareness and starting campaigns, we can help educate the UW-Madison community about the issues that affect our Native communities across Turtle Island.”

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