'We can't back down now' -- As Trump revives Dakota Access pipeline, Sioux vow to resist

A Standing Rock water protector stares down a militarised police force defending the pipeline's construction last year.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and supporters have said they will resist US President Donald Trump's executive order to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) that threatens to destroy water supply of the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, as well as Native American sacred sites. In the face of growing protests, including a Native American-led blockade at Standing Rock, pipeline construction had been halted by the Obama administration last month.

As well as causing widespread environmental destruction, both from its construction and the burning of the almost half-a-million barrels of oil a day it will shift, the 1886 kilometre-long pipeline's path violates multiple treaties with the Sioux. The struggle against DAPL has led to the largest gathering of First Nation peoples across North America for decades, with more than 300 tribes gathering at protest camps.

Opponents have vowed to escalate the campaign in light of Trump's order to green light the US$3.78 billion DAPL project owned by the Energy Transfer Partners. Trump has close ties to ETP, holding investments in the company until selling them on December 5.

“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” said Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault. “Creating a second Flint does not make America great again,” he added, referring to the dramatic poisoning of water supplies that has hit Flint, Michigan, with disastrous consequences.

Archambault said: "Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream ... [Trump is] risking our treaty rights and water supply to benefit his wealthy contributors and friends at DAPL.”

Activists from the Indigenous Environmental Network, climate action group 350.org and other groups immediately responded with a demonstration in front of the White House, TeleSUR English reported. Others emergency response protests were around the country.

350.org has set up a "Pledge of Resistance" on its website to mobilise DAPL opponents. It said: "Trump is pushing these pipelines for one reason: because people powered movements stopped them. He wants us demoralized and defeated, so that he can spend the next 4 years working with Big Oil and his corrupt cabinet to build as many coal, oil and gas projects as he can with no opposition.

"It won’t work. Today’s order will only reignite the widespread grassroots opposition stopping so many fossil fuel projects across the country. Trump is about to meet the fossil fuel resistance head on."

“We need mass civil disobedience and a showing of solidarity with Standing Rock,” Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes who lives in North Dakota, said in response to Trump's order. “The Trump administration is sparking a revolution that makes us stronger than we ever were before.”