The battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline has been raging for nearly nine months. A youth-orientated protest movement that started as an encampment on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation spread across Indigenous America and eventually the United States and the world. The movement is in opposition to a pipeline that threatens the tribe’s sovereignty and the drinking water of millions of people living near the Missouri River. There have been protests on the streets of America’s cities and several major stand-offs in Standing Rock.
Before President Obama left office, he stayed the progress of the pipeline’s construction so that an alternative route could be found. At the time, it felt like a massive victory, but it was shortlived, as the stay was immediately overturned after Trump’s administration assumed power. It quickly became obvious that the White House wanted the pipeline to go ahead. Since then militarized combatants have arrived at Standing Rock and violently cleared the camp in a fashion that echoes the violent Indian removals of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
Now, entire cities are joining the movement to fight the DAPL in an effort to undercut the financial footing of the pipeline’s construction. Seattle made history when it voted unanimously (9-0) to divest the city’s money from Wells Fargo bank. That’s a tidy sum of $3 billion less the bank will have in its coffers to invest in outside projects. Wells Fargo has a $120 million direct investment in the construction of the pipeline that’s part of a $467 million investment in the four Energy Transfer branches involved in the pipeline. The reasoning behind this protest divestment is to remind the bank that their depositors don’t want their money being used to invest in projects which they stand against.