Colloquially known as the “flyover state”, North Dakota was recently the location of one of the largest and longest demonstrations staged by Native Americans in history. The subject of these protests was the installation of an oil pipeline which was planned to travel through sacred indigenous locations and burial sites, places which have dumbfounding significance to the heritage of the people and the Sioux tribe who reside on a reservation that would be directly impacted by the installation of the oil transportation network. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an underground oil network system spanning almost 1900kms from North Dakota to Illinois which aims to reduce the transportation of oil via train and road. The pipeline has the ability to move over 440, 000 barrels of oil a day and the companies building the Pipeline have had over 500 recorded leaks in the past few years.
In terms of technology and Design, this pipeline is without a doubt a feat of modern day resource transportation and human ability to develop an industry even further. The sheer size of the network and quantities moved is staggering, though in its design, the complete disregard of the native Indians and their heritage sites is an ignorance that has caused immense pain, suffering, disruption and plain terror for the demonstrators and water protectors. This was the largest gathering of Native Indians, from all over America, in recent history, all of whom stood as one to prevent the disruption of sacred sites and protect the only water supply to the Sioux reservation; the Missouri River. The complete lack of acknowledgement of these sites and the decision to continue progress, despite being denied over 300 times by the Natives to follow the proposed path, is one that has completely destroyed and tarnished the entire design initiative and polluted the concept of the pipeline. If the Dakota Access Pipeline was planned and constructed in co-operation with the natives then the pipeline would be undeniably impressive, incredibly well executed and a benefit to the society it has been designed for, though as a result of the company’s decision to ignore the wishes and decisions of the native tribes, the projects entire potential and significance is worthless as it has been tainted and exposed as a result of the demonstrations.
The inspiring aspect of the Dakota Access Pipeline was the actual opposition to the development. The sheer number and variety of water protectors and demonstrators reminded the modern world of the importance of standing up for what is right and the significance of heritage to our society. A societies connection to their history and heritage is what defines their depth of humanity, if a society disregards their history, what is the purpose of bettering the future? The veterans, natives, protestors, uniformed and plain civilians who united and stood as one against brutality, violence, oppression and abuse was undoubtedly inspiring and reinvigorating. The Standing Rock demonstrations was a case of David verse Goliath, and in this case Goliath reached to the soon-to-be President Donald Trump and the Oil companies controlling the economy, and David conquered his opponent, prevailing in protecting the water supply to the Sioux reservation. The issue that the demonstrators were protesting was not just the route and demolition of heritage sites, but the risk of a leak in the pipe. A leak in the Dakota Access Network anywhere close to the Sioux reservation would jeopardise the only water supply for the Native Americans, and mere weeks after the demonstrations ended, a leak was discovered only 150kms away from the location of the protests, where 176,000 gallons of Oil spilled into a creek and the surrounding environment, and was only discovered by a local when driving past.
For a design to be completely suitable and effective it must suit the environment it is being introduced to and seamlessly integrate whilst bettering the functionality and efficiency of whatever task is at hand. In the Case of the Dakota Access Pipeline this was not the case, as the environment it was being introduced to contains various heritage sites to the Native American Indians and posed a great threat to their sole water supply for their reservation on which the natives live, hunt, survive and carry on the traditions and customs of their culture, the roots to the land on which the United States now sits.
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