Earlier this December, the Cheyenne, the Standing Rock Sioux, and conservationists from around the country celebrated what they thought was a big win aginst the Dakota Access Pipeline. They thought they had stopped an oil-sucking serpent in its tracks (err… slither?). Unfortunately, this victory proved to be a pyrrhic one.

When the Trump administration took the reins of U.S. policy, he signed an executive order that advanced the construction of the controversial pipeline. Shortly after this order was signed, Trump also canceled the environmental analysis of the area claiming that it was an unimportant issue for Americans – despite the fact that there were protests around the country about the impending pipeline.

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The reason the Dakota Access Pipeline is so problematic is because it will cut through large swaths of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The Sioux worry that the pipeline will contaminate the already scarce drinking water on their reservation and, on top of that, the pipeline will go through parts of the reservation that are of vital cultural significance to the tribe. The Cheyenne have noted that the pipeline has the very real potential to contaminate their drinking water as well. But despite the loud protest from Native American communities, environmentalist, and Americans everywhere, the Trump administration continues to push the pipeline forward.

On February 15th, 2017, Pope John Francis joined the fray. The Pope met with representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux at a U.N. Agricultural meeting in Rome to discuss the issue. Afterward, he made this statement to the press,”The right to prior and informed consent [should always prevail especially] when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth.” We salute the Pope for coming out against this gross violation of the Standing Rock Sioux’s rights.

You can join the Pope and the thousands of others who are opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline by sharing this message with your friends and family. Knowledge is the most powerful tool we have to effect change, so educate the people around you. You can also use the White House contact page to express your displeasure regarding this policy. Finally, you can send supplies to the protesters on the ground by contacting Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund and  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund. United we are stronger than any government or corporation, so let’s get together and stand with the Standing Rock Sioux to protect their land and our environment.

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Image source: giulio napolitano/Shutterstock

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