Dakota Access Pipeline Protest: Watch The Māori People’s Amazing Display of Solidarity to the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock

Dakota Access Pipeline Protest: Watch The Māori People’s Amazing Display of Solidarity to the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock

Indigenous tribes may be scattered all over the world in different civilizations, but not a lot can stop them from coming through for one another in times of oppression and need. A viral video from 2016 shows indigenes of the Māori tribe of New Zealand performing the Haka dance, a vigorous war dance in solidarity to the Sioux people at Standing Rock. [1]

The recent history of Standing Rock, a US Indian reservation in North Dakota has been wound up with tales of peaceful and eventually violent protests of people struggling to protect their land. The government under Barack Obama proposed the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172 mile-long oil pipeline that would run through North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa and terminate in Illinois. The Sioux tribe at Standing Rock resisted the project because the pipeline would put their main water source, the Missouri River, at risk of oil contamination. They were also fighting against the desecration of important tribal sites that should have been protected by the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie. [2]

The $3.78 billion project was announced in June 2014 and by 2016, under the control of Texas-based Energy Transfer LLC, construction began despite the people’s cries. Environmental reviews were not enough to assure them of the safety of their water and lands. Thousands of barrels of oil spill from existing pipelines all over the country, and it was only a matter of time before the river would be condemned.

The Obama administration had initiated the project, but they later accepted that the tribes people’s treaty had to be respected and halted the construction. However, in 2017, Trump revived the project and it was completed by May that year. [3] The tribespeople continued to protests and things quickly turned violent as 300 persons were injured and over 487 were arrested. 

An unrelenting fight from the tribespeople

The project was being financially supported by some of the most powerful banks in the country including the US Bank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and others. [4] The Sioux people at Standing Rock are not more than 9,000 in population, but they had massive support from the rest of the world.

The tribespeople set up a crowd-funding page with a goal of $5,000 for legal fees as they dragged the government to court. In a few months, the account hit over $1,000,000 in donations, beyond their wildest expectations. Also, they didn’t just have financial support — they were backed by other indigenous tribes from all over the world.

A group of Māori people from New Zealand were recorded performing the powerful Haka dance at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, New Zealand. The Haka was a ceremonial dance of vigorous movements and energetic chants often displayed during war. However, in modern times, the dance is used as a sign of unshakable solidarity. 

The video was recorded by Tylee Hudson and posted on Facebook. It immediately went viral with thousands of groups and pages reposted, bringing the struggle of the Sioux further into the global spotlight.

The Māori  are not newbies to the reality of fighting for one’s right to land and peace. As with dozens of other indigenous tribes across the world, they’ve experienced overwhelming government oppression over the centuries and fighting back has become a necessary part of their culture.

Our role as kaitiaki, or guardians of the land, and tino rangatiratanga, the right to self-determination, is forever contested and challenged by the government,” Hudson wrote in an email. The Māori ’s dance sent a ray of hope and love to the Sioux who were at the frontlines protesting and resisting the contamination of their land.

Suspension and resumption of the project in 2020

The Sioux sued the government in March 2020 and on July 6, 2020, US district judge James Boasberg sided with the people and ordered a shutdown of the project. [5] The pipelines have been distributed across state lines for three years, since 2017. Boasberg explained that although halting the project would cause a major disruption, it was a necessary move to prevent potential harm to the people.

He said that a more extensive environmental assessment had to be performed by the U.S army Corps of Engineers. The court required a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to determine the safety of continuing the project.

Clear precedent favoring vacatur [an order setting aside a previous judgment] during such a remand coupled with the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the 13 months that the Corps believes the creation of an EIS will take,” Boasberg wrote in a 24-page order on July, ordering the project to be shut down on or before August 5, 2020.

The victory of the Sioux people was short-lived as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed Judge Boasberg’s order in favor of Energy Transfer. [6] Energy Transfer claimed that it would cost $24 million and take three months to empty the pipelines and stop operations, which made Boasberg’s deadline impossible to meet.

The Appeals court stated that Boasberg, a lower-court judge “did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief.”

They waved the shutdown order and permitted Energy Transfer to continue operations while both sides “clarified their positions.” However, the court rejected the oil company’s motion to block the review, stating that they “failed to make a strong showing of likely success.


  1. The Māori  just took Standing Rock solidarity up a notch with their viral war dance.Upworthy. Ally Hirschlag. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. Trump orders revival of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.” The Guardian. David Smith. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  4. Break Up With Your DAPL-Supporting Bank.” Green America. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  5. Judge suspends Dakota Access pipeline over environmental concerns.”  The Guardian. Associated Press. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  6. Appeals Court Cancels Order To Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline. Forbes. Jemima McEvoy. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  7. Dakota Access Pipeline.” Britannica. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  8. Leak in Keystone pipeline spills 9,000 barrels of oil in North Dakota.” NBC News. Phil Helsel. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
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