The UVA Native American Student Union partnered with Showing Up For Racial Justice Charlottesville at the downtown mall to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) would transport crude oil from North Dakota to Iowa, traveling 1200 miles. Native American tribes are coming together to oppose the pipeline because they say it would damage sacred sites and contaminate their drinking water.
Evliyn Immonen is involved in the Native American Student Union, and opposes the Dakota Access Pipeline. She said, “One of the reasons why it’s so controversial, they tried to have it in Bismarck and it wasn’t approved because it adversely affected the communities in Bismarck so why is it standing outside North Dakota?”
On September 9th, the Obama administration ASKED Energy Transfer Partners to pause all construction activity. On September 16th, A federal appeals court halted construction for twenty miles. UVa student Sydney Rubin explained that the legal process often takes time to catch up to the physical process of construction.
“The halt is important because it allows us to catch up and legally stop the pipeline,” Rubin said.
David Sligh of Wild Virginia believes Native American tribes have suffered enough.
He said, “the tribes out there have already had a lot of misuse through the centuries and this is just one more blow to them and we all have to stand with them.”
“It’s a prayer camp, it’s a peaceful camp, they aren’t just saying no to DOA, they’re also saying you have to respect our sovereignty, you have to respect our freedom of speech as Americans,” Immonen added.
This is not only a problem in the Midwest, but also here in Virginia. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a proposed pipeline of fracked natural gas coming from Wetzel County, West Virginia through central Virginia and down into North Carlina.
Sligh said, “it crosses the Appalachian mountains, the blue ridge mountains, the valley of Virginia, the Shenandoah valley, and lots of amazing natural resources, and lots of folks homelands”
Rubin has also been active in pushing to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. She’s worried about the environmental impact.
“Habitat fragmentation, erosion, water pollution, going right through private property so a family who’s lived in this house for generations might now have a pipeline going through their backyard,” said Rubin.
Sligh added, “we’re fighting to make a transition to sensible fuels to sensible energy and for people to be treated with respect.”
Water is life according to the signs at the downtown mall. As the rally ended the group to walk down the mall to show off their signs.