Anyone paying attention to the #NoDAPL protests, and the intense national media coverage of them, would have gotten the idea that the goal of the often unlawful, often violent gathering was to stop the construction of pipelines and the development of oil.
The protesters could often be heard chanting about keeping the “oil in the soil,” and the Standing Rock tribe itself partnered with a far-left environmental group called Earthjustice which is very much in the business of trying to put the oil industry out of business. Earthjustice lawyers have been representing Standing Rock in the tribe’s federal lawsuit against the pipeline.
But in recent weeks, particularly since Donald Trump won the national election, the tribal leadership seems to have moved the goal posts a bit. “I want to help him make this nation great again, and I want to help give him assistance, advice on how we can do that together and not leave the first occupants of this land behind,” tribal chairman David Archambault said yesterday ahead of a meeting between tribes, including Standing Rock, and Trump. “We can do the pipelines, we can do oil development, energy development, but not off our backs again. That’s basically all I would share with him.”
Coming out of that meeting today the tribal representative who attended said pretty much the same thing:
Harrison said he wanted to clarify the tribe’s position on Dakota Access, which would cross the Missouri River less than a mile north of the reservation.
“We’re against the placement of the pipe. We haven’t taken a stance against oil development or energy development,” Harrison said. “We realize that’s part of the world today.”
The reason the tribe has to clarify their position on oil and pipelines is because they allowed their protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline’s current route to be co-opted by zealots and extremists.
And it’s hard to feel sorry for the tribe given how little they did to push back against the extremists who had taken over their protest.
Still, it’s nice to hear the tribe’s embracing a more pragmatic stance. I don’t think it’s going to accomplish much – I’d be very surprised if DAPL wasn’t completed in the current route – but going forward I’m glad the tribe is eschewing ill-advised environmental extremism in favor of pragmatism.