Alyssa Schukar/The New York Times

Military veterans and tribal leaders, despite heavy snow and winds, protest against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

February 16, 2017

Standing Rock Nation Chair to Speak at Cornell on DAPL

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In the wake of the controversy with the Dakota Access Pipeline, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, David Archambault II, will speak to the Cornell community on Thursday.

“This is an opportunity for Cornell, for the entire community, to learn directly from Chairman Archambault, who has been providing leadership at these peaceful protests on their traditional territories,” said Kyrie Ransom ’18, co-chair of Native American Students at Cornell.

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline reappeared in the news when, on Feb. 8, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an easement that would allow the construction of a 30-inch diameter, light crude oil pipeline under the federal lands managed by the army corps according to Ransom.

Chairman Archambault’s views on this issue will provide valuable insight to the Cornell community, according to Jevan Hutson ’16 MPS ’17, co-chair of the Indigenous Graduate Student Association.

“He’s an inspirational leader and a tremendous advocate not only for his own people, but also for environmental welfare and the welfare of other indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples alike,” Hutson said.

“Regardless of your political views, you would do well to hear from Chairman Archambault,” he added.

Hutson also emphasized that students should recognize how Cornell is connected to these atrocities which are playing out in the country today.

“We must not forget that this is one pipeline among many,” Hutson said. “We must stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we cannot forget that the violation of indigenous peoples rights and environmental destruction is a global phenomenon, one that impacts native communities here in Upstate New York and around the world.”

Simply spreading awareness about the issues of indigenous rights and environmental degradation is not enough and action is also required even in local communities, according to Hutson.

“I think it’s both a part of acting in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters, but also alongside that, I think there has to be a commitment to local issues,” he said.

“Many in Ithaca are unaware of the environmental impact of oil, of natural gas pipelines, as it plays out here in upstate New York,” Hutson said.

To an extent, these issues are occurring even in Ithaca, according to Ransom. In fact, local residents recently coordinated efforts to provide input about the construction of the West Dryden Pipeline, which was set to impact nearly 100 homeowners in that area.

Huston said that Cornell’s current cooling system into Cayuga Lake is causing environmental damage affecting the communities on the north side of Cayuga Lake.

Ransom added that the Dominion Pipeline is another local example which hasn’t received a lot of attention.

Ultimately, Hutson emphasized the importance of “thinking globally and acting locally” in order to address these problems in more systemic ways.

“These issues are not one-off events, these are not one-off pipelines,” Huston said. “At the end of the day, we can stop the DAPL, but there are many indigenous communities in the United States and around the world who continue to face egregious and violent obstacles and will not have the visibility Standing Rock has.”

The lecture will be held at 3:30pm in 146 Stocking Hall on Thursday, Feb. 16.