Wary of politicians and their promises, 50 Red Deer-area protesters braved the cold wind Monday to continue sending a strong message against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Although President Barack Obama, The Army Corps and a couple of U.S. government departments agreed to prevent the contentious pipeline from going beneath Lake Oahe, the water supply for North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation, local demonstrators were undeterred.
The decision could be a “historic moment,” said Talitha Klym, one of the rally organizers — or it could be reversed by in-coming U.S. president Donald Trump.
“There’s still some doubt, so we’re being cautious,” added Klym, who marched with placard-bearers and aboriginal drummers across the Taylor Drive Bridge. “We feel this might not be the final decision. It could still go a lot of ways.”’
Thousands of global citizens have marched in solidarity with the Sioux tribe, which fears the pipeline poses a risk to its water and treaty rights. On Saturday, allies and veterans showed up in southern North Dakota ready to form a human shield between police and protesters.
On Sunday, the American Army Corps of Engineers decided to deny an easement that would have allowed the pipeline to run beneath the lake. They said looking for an alternate route was the most responsible, expeditious way to finish the $3.8 billion pipeline project.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe commended this decision, saying it “corrects the course of history and does the right thing.”
The mood on the Red Deer bridge was cautiously celebratory. Waylon Frencheater of the Sunchild First Nation was glad sacred land rights were finally being recognized, while Matt McKellan said people are getting tired of seeing their future sold out for “greed and profits… We have to leave something for our children.”
“The fight continues,” declared Cynthia McLaren, who believes no one has yet proven the pipeline’s safety.
Klym called Obama’s decision “a major victory,” but feels “this is a much bigger issue than Standing Rock.”
While acknowledging the thousands of Albertans who make a living from the oilfield, she feels society has to begin looking beyond the “here and now,” towards a more sustainable, green-energy future to survive.