Sunday—a day punctuated by football games and family dinners—is a poor timing choice for breaking important news, but the US Army Corps of Engineers announced today it “would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a dammed section of the Missouri River that tribes say sits near sacred burial sites,” according to The New York Times.
The Times sent me a text this afternoon—Pacific Coast Time—that authorities need to “explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
The decision comes at the eleventh hour, when tribes face a deadline Monday—tomorrow—to vacate the encampment where activists have protested construction of the pipeline, designed to span more than 1000 miles and deliver crude oil to North Americans.
Here in Portland, Oregon, protest rallies have been planned for tomorrow—Monday—to coincide with the deadline given the tribes to leave the encampment.
So: what happens next?
Many will see the announcement as a victory for indigenous peoples.
But key issues remain unresolved.
For example, the pipeline was initially rerouted to traditional Indian lands to avoid confrontation with citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota.
If the pipeline is rerouted, what risks will it pose to other communities and to natural resources?
Protestors made an indelible point by showing that Indian voices are often ignored or muted when conflicts occur over land use.
They argued that tribes were ignored when decisions about the pipeline were made.
Authorities were accused of making decisions without regard to Native residents who would be impacted by construction of the pipeline.
But Indian activists made their voices heard by seizing social media channels and showcasing their concerns to anyone who would listen.
Rather than relying on traditional media to report on their concerns, American Indians took to the airways themselves, capturing the protest with the hashtag #nodapl and bypassing mainstream gatekeepers who typically re-frame stories.
Concerns over the pipeline signal a paradigm shift in the journalism sphere, where Indians had the rare opportunity to set the frames for debate.
4 December 2016