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The North Dakota Access Pipeline


Elective Affinities

Elective affinities is the idea that people come together because they share certain ideas and culture, but not necessarily religion. People are drawn to other people who are similar and have similar beliefs as you. This has been shown constantly in the ever growing community that has been building up at Standing Rock to protest the building of the DAPL. What once started as only a number of Native American tribes has increased to having people of all race, sexuality, political affiliation, and religion, come to back up the tribes. The native tribes practice a different religion than most of the outside supporters it has gained, but they all believe in the same ideas and have come together to fight for that. They all believe that water is vital, and that the environment is extremely important and must be conserved as best as possible. These common ideas have brought these people together to stand up for a higher cause even though most of them may disagree on things related to religion and spirituality.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory is the idea that structures in society are based in white power and privilege and perpetuate the marginalization of colored people. This directly plays into what is happening with the DPAL because the pipeline is going through these Native American lands and completely disregarding its significance because of their race. If the pipeline was to be built it would only help the rich white business owners of the oil company at the expense of the native tribes. Not only does this pipeline disrespect sacred ground, but it would also endanger the health of these tribes because of potential oil spills into their water supply. Since the protests began, the pipeline has also garnered police protection to the point where they have even attacked the peaceful protesters. This further shows how the system is supporting the white man and his ideals rather than the minorities, especially those who can be considered true Americans.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory is the idea that all action is calculated and rational, which comes from economics. This is being implemented on the side of the pipeline because their interests lie strictly in business and do not take into account the meaning behind the land they are building on. From their perspective, the pipeline is a great idea because instead of having to constantly drive trucks down carrying the oil they can just constantly pump it to where it needs to go with the pipeline. This will save them a lot of time and money, which is more beneficial in their eyes than the potential environmental hazards the pipeline raises. The DAPL did the math and found the expense of building the pipeline would end up being worth the increased profit they could make once it is finished. While they are only looking at the pipeline from a business perspective, they are still looking at specific pro's and con's and have decided that the pipeline will be overall beneficial for them.

With these three theories we can increase our understanding for the motives behind both the pipeline and protesters. The pipeline is acting in it's own self interest and disregards the needs of the immediate community and the overall environment. In response to these infringements people from all over the country have come to fight that aggression and oppression.


The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), also known as the Bakken Pipeline, is a crude oil pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners. The underground pipeline would travel from North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, and would eventually end in Illinois. Once completed, the pipeline is expected to transfer approximately 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day, as well as create 40 permanent jobs. The 3.7-billion-dollar project has gained controversy from farmers and Native American tribes alike for the environmental risk the pipeline carries in some of the regions it is expected to be built. The pipeline’s planned route involves going under the Missouri River which threatens the purity of drinking and irrigation water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other farmers. While the preservation of the environment and their own livelihood sparked initial opposition, the pipeline soon also created moral and religious controversy. As construction began, protesters began to notice that crew were going through some of the Sioux Tribe’s sacred land, desecrating and destroying everything in their path. This project not only threatened their heath now, but also their culture. After the construction crews disregard for the religious objects and burial grounds they had disturbed while building, the Sioux Tribe filed for an emergency motion to cease the construction of the pipeline until a verdict can be reached on whether the pipeline should be allowed to continue building on the land it has planned, or if it should change paths due to the concerns and issues of the numerous protesters and organizations that oppose of it. The tribe claims that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly consult them when seeking approval to build the pipeline. Protesters have gathered to the construction site of the pipeline to support the Sioux Tribe in their efforts to ensure that the project does not continue being built until judges have made rulings as to the where it should legally be constructed, if the project can even be deemed legal at all. Other Native American Tribes have gathered to not only support the environmental cause behind the protest, but especially to support the maintenance and respect for the religious objects that have remained sacred to the Sioux Tribe for generations.



This issue has been an ongoing battle in the recent months, and finally a real life conclusion has been established. After months of protesting through bone-chilling weather and unwarranted police intervention, it has been decided that the pipeline will have to move its construction away from the Sioux Tribe's land. This shows that our government has sided not with the rational choice of the pipeline, which would promote the crude oil industry. Instead they have agreed that the benefit of preserving the environment is more important. This choice also shows how we will continue to respect Native Americans land and religion, and treat them like we might any other citizen in the country. This is a big win on many fronts, and a victory we should use as a template for similar issues in the future.


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Cannon Ball, ND 58528


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