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An Environmental Issue to Rekindle a Struggle between Settlers and First Nations - the Dakota Access

The new administration in the White House, in Washington, DC, has and will continue to stir controversy with executive orders covering a wide range of programs from health care, to funding abortions, to immigration and to environmental matters. 

However, of all the orders issued in the less than-a-week since inauguration, the one to advance the approval of the stalled Dakota Access pipeline - close to the reservation of the Sioux people, has the most potential to engulf the White House in a battle with Native Americans - a kind of struggle not witnessed in modern times since contact, settlement and conquer.

The 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which was halted by the Army Corps of Engineers following weeks of strong resistance from Native American tribes and environmentalists, is a $3.7 billion project slated to move 470,000 barrels of crude a day across four-states -  North Dakota into South Dakota, a section of Iowa and ending in Illinois. Proponents claim it would add 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs, while banking $156 million in sales and revenues to state and local governments.

The Stranding Rock Sioux sued to block the project because it "threatens the tribe's environmental and economic well-being, and wold damage and destroy sites of graved historic, religious and cultural significance to the tribe." Moreover, the First Nations people charged that more digging under the Missouri River would affect the area's drinking water.

Yesterday's executive order in Washington, DC, would place the Dakota Access pipeline back on the agenda along with the Keystone Access pipeline as environmental projects. 

In response to Washington's action on the Dakota pipeline, Jon Eagle, Sr., Standing Rock's Historic Preservation Officer, cited on CNN's website, declared: "It wasn't a surprise. We knew this was gonna happen. We've been preparing for it."

Standing Rock's Sioux people are a federally recognized Indian tribe, who are successors to the Great Sioux Nation, who inhabited the American west long before European settlers. Noting his First Nation people's endurance and long defiance, Jon Eagle, Sr., noted: "You gotta take a historic perspective, though, of who we are as Lakota Dakota people - we've been resisting since the point of contact."

And with that statement, the Native American tribe has given notice of their intent to struggle to preserve their environment against gas and political settlers in 2017.

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