By: Maritza Torres


This portfolio is a collection of media surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline that offers insight into the environmental, social, cultural, and spiritual impacts that follows a construction project like this. All of these impacts work together to enable environmental racism towards Native American, specifically the Lakota Standing Rock Sioux.
Environmental racism is refers to the institutional rules, policies, regulations, or government and/or corporate decisions which targets certain communities and disproportionally impact people of color. This impact can lead to toxic waste and hazardous impacts on the proposed "undesired land." By this definition, the combination of all these factors, which are exploited by the Energy Transfers Partners when building DAPL, makes this case an environmental racism issue towards the Standing Rick Sioux. 
For a brief summary of this portfolio, click the link below for a short video.

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2015 Keystone Pipeline:

"But there are historical preludes, and you don't have to look too far back to find them. In 2015, when the Keystone XL pipeline was being debated, numerous Native American tribes and the Indigenous Environmental Network organized against it. The pipeline would have stretched 1,179 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The Rosebud Sioux, a tribe in South Dakota, called the proposed pipeline an "act of war" and set up an encampment where the pipeline was to be constructed. Also joining in were the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Resources Defense Council, and the OmahaDeneHo-chunk, and Creek Nations, whose lands the pipeline would have traversed"

1973 Wounded Knee:

"... a protest that was part of the American Indian Movement. During the 1973 demonstration, about 200 people occupied the town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota — the site of an 1890 massacre in which U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of Native Americans. Protesters turned Wounded Knee into what one former AIM leader called "an armed camp" in order to protest corruption in tribal leadership and draw attention to the U.S. government's failure to honor treaties."

1876 Battle of Little Bighorn:

"In the late 1800s more than 10,000 members of the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes set up camp to resist the U.S. Army's attempt to displace them in search of gold. That camp took form at the Little Bighorn River in Montana. After the soldiers attacked the camp in June of 1876, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, widely known as (Gen. George) Custer's Last Stand, erupted. In defeating the Army, the tribes won a huge land rights victory for Native American"

When not properly taught, history tends to repeat:

"If Native American resistance is an old story, that's because the systemic violation of indigenous land rights is an old story."

"There are no rights being violated here that haven't been violated before."


The Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL, (also known as the Bakken Pipeline) is a underground oil pipeline that runs 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. This crude oil pipeline was announced to be built in 2014 by Texas based company, Energy Transfer Partners. It was built and became fully operational in May 2017. 

Since this time, there have been multiple protests regarding environmental and health concerns that threaten a large amount of people. There is also presence discrimination and violence towards the Native American people living on this land. This portfolio is a compilation of news articles, scholarly articles/studies, and activism media surrounding the issue to education others on the issues. I hope to bring together the full picture of environmental and humanistic affects that come with the operation of DAPL. I want people to walk away from this portfolio with a true understanding of environmental racism and how it is active within DAPL. When this many people are impacted, it is no longer just a pipeline. 


“As many have noted, it should not be the responsibility of peoples who have endured ongoing exploitation and violence at the hands of white settlers to teach white settlers how to be. However, since the Standing Rock Sioux found themselves in the position of having to do so for the functionality of their struggle for sovereignty, it matters to attend to their requests, and to the requests indigenous thinkers have long been making about white settler engagement with native spirituality”

Lily Oster, Field Notes from Standing Rock: Non‐Extraction as Spiritual Practice


Current Argument

"The proposed expansion would 'increase both the likelihood and severity of spill incidents,' the tribe said in court filings ahead of Wednesday's hearing, which an administrative law judge will oversee."

This is the environmental concerns proposed to court which allowed for a shut down for environmental examination but the response was... 

“The company moved to strike testimony from three witnesses for the tribe, including a pipeline consultant who maintains that increasing pressure in a pipeline raises the risk of it failing.”

The second article link shows more of the incentive behind the companies need for appealing the decision:

"Texas-based Energy Transfer estimated it would cost $24 million to empty the oil and take steps to preserve the pipe. The company said it would have to spend another $67.5 million each year to maintain the line while it’s inoperable...”



Passes through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa through to Illinois.

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