If you’ve been watching the news or checking your Facebook feed, you’ve probably heard about
the Dakota Access Pipeline protests taking place in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Earlier this
week, you might have noticed friends or family checking into the Standing Rock Sioux
Reservation on Facebook. If you’ve been wondering exactly what’s happening, you’re in luck!
Here at Fallout Yoga (soon to be called 21st Yoga), we share a strong belief in social justice and community-building. That’s why we’d like to tell you a little bit about what’s going on and how you can help.
Here’s What’s Happening and Why It Matters
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is situated on the border between North and South Dakota
and is home to several different tribal divisions including the Dakota and Lakota nations. Earlier
this year, a company called Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) decided to build a pipeline near these
lands that would transport oil all the way from North Dakota to Illinois. The proposed pipeline
would be 1,720 miles long and cost 3.7 billion dollars to complete.
But, here’s the catch – when the U.S. army made the initial decision to run the pipeline through
lands neighboring the Sioux Reservation, they never consulted local leaders. Had they done this,
they would have learned that the area is considered sacred, is home to ancestral burial grounds,
and is protected by treaties between the tribes and the U.S. government.
The ETP and U.S. government never conducted any kind of large-scale assessment of
environmental impact, either. The proposed pipeline would cross under the Missouri river, under
the Mississippi river, and would run near an important lake used by the reservation. Despite these
potential risks to the water supply – and despite the fact that the Dakota Access Pipeline would
be nearly as large as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which was rejected on
environmental grounds – environmental research was never conducted. With these issues in
mind, it’s easy to see why protecting water and sacred places has been at the center of the
Since pipeline construction began in September, ETP security forces and local law enforcement
agencies have been under increasing scrutiny for their hostility towards peaceful protestors.
Working together, these highly militarized groups have used attack dogs, pepper spray, tear gas,
rubber bullets, tasers, and other weapons to disburse crowds and drive peaceful protestors out of
the area. In the wake of these events, a United Nations group has opened an investigation into the
actions of local law enforcement.
What You Can Do
Though opposition to the pipeline started out small, thousands of people have converged on the
city of Cannon Ball to participate in the pipeline protests. Across the country, millions of
Americans are standing in solidarity with the Sioux tribe by participating in smaller local
protests, raising awareness on social media, and donating resources where they can. If you’re
concerned about the situation in North Dakota and want to make a difference, the Standing Rock
Sioux tribe is asking for help in three main areas:
find a petition addressed to President Obama asking his administration to permanently end
construction on the pipeline. In signing the petition, you can show support for this important
cause and make a tangible difference in the outcome.
Call the White House: On the website, the tribe is also asking concerned citizens to call the
White House and let the President know how they feel about the matter. The phone number is
Donate Resources: If you would like to do more, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is also
accepting donations. These funds will go to provide legal representation, supplies, medical care,
and other emergency resources to those on the ground. Right now, the camps in Cannon Ball are
preparing for the winter, so they are also accepting donated supplies (cold-weather sleeping bags,
tarps, warm clothes, etc.).
Additionally, 21st Yoga (formerly Fallout Yoga) will be hosting a special fund-raising event soon to raise resources for this important cause. So, save the date! We’ll be sending more details your way as soon as we know more. We look forward to seeing you at our new home in Sugar House!