In the Dakota language, the word “oahe” signifies “a place to stand on.”
And that’s what the Standing Rock Sioux and its allies in the environmental and activist movements say they are doing: using Lake Oahe in North Dakota as a place to take a stand by setting up camps and blocking roads in order to block the controversial $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
Their confrontations with police — who have responded with water cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets — have steered attention to the 1,170-mile long oil pipeline project and its owner, Energy Transfer Partners. But the real source of Native Americans’ grievance stretches back more than a century, to the original government incursions on their tribal lands. And those earlier disputes over their rights to the land, like the one over the Dakota Access pipeline, pitted the tribes against a persistent force, the Army Corps of Engineers.