A candlelight vigil in support of a group of self-described "water protectors" blocking the construction of the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in North Dakota had an atmosphere of cautious celebration on Monday (December 5). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced over the weekend that it would explore alternate routes for the pipeline, which was set to cross under a reservoir near the reservation and whose construction has already disturbed sacred tribal burial grounds.
"We're here to send the message that we want the Army Corps to enforce this decision, but we're still in this fight," Amrah Salomon told a crowd that, while enthusiastic, was much smaller than the several hundred that gathered outside the local Army Corps office last month.
On Monday afternoon, the group assembled for a series of Native prayers and songs between rounds of picketing along Aero Drive, garnering honks and waves of support from passing cars. Despite a pledge to attempt to re-route the pipeline, the group planned to remain active.
"We're continuing to fight against [Dakota Access] and other pipelines that destroy the environment, and for native treaty rights," Salomon continued. "A lot of people are celebrating right now, and while it's important to celebrate this victory we need to stay vigilant because Energy Transfer issued an announcement that they're going to try to go ahead anyway.
"The water protectors are still in camp, and they're going to stay until we see how this pans out."