Morton County Sheriff's Department / AP
Two years ago, pipeline opponents in North Dakota celebrated months of protests from thousands of indigenous and environmental activists when the Obama administration denied a key permit to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Several Months Later The Trump government overturned this decision and approved the construction. Pipeline opponents feared that an overflow of the Dakota access pipeline would pollute drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
"It turned out to be a huge gathering of the World Assembly," recalled current Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council leader Mike Faith.
Faith says the protests have sent a message to the world that the Native Americans are self-supporting and encourage Aboriginal people around the world to participate in the demonstrations. Among them was Leoyla Cowboy, who had given up her job and her home in New Mexico.
Jeff Brady / NPR
"I'm still here, I did not really leave," Cowboy laughs. The demonstrations changed their CV.
In the protest camp she met her partner and married him. Michael "Little Feather" Giron is one of the hundreds of protesters arrested during the anti-DAPL movement. He pleaded guilty to charges of civil disorder. The prosecution says they saw him pour gasoline on a burned barricade.
Cowboy says Giron will be released from federal jail next October. She is now employed by North Dakota as the organizer of the Water Protector Legal Collective.
"What was really great and blessing is to be an indigenous woman who learns how to move through the legal system," says Cowboy. 19659008] The lawsuit continues
Two years later, the legal system in North Dakota is still busy processing the people arrested during anti-DAPL protests. For many, the charges were reduced or dismissed.
There are also a number of active civil suits still to be resolved. One was submitted by protesters who were sprayed by the police at minus temperatures with water. Another company submitted by the company that built the pipeline, Energy Transfer, is a lawsuit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups that have been called in for protests. In another case, tribal members and others have filed suit for five months for closing a local highway near the protests.
This closure has impacted the business at Standing Prairie Knights Casino of Standing Rock Sioux. The tribe will not say how much. However, the Bismarck Tribune reported that the tribe suffered a $ 6 million budget loss, mainly because less money came from the casino.
"I think the economy is slowly coming back, but it's coming back, I think we're trying to fix the fences now," says chairman Faith.
Protests cause divisions  Because of the protests, the divisions between the tribe and the mostly white residents are intensifying.Most of the people driving in Bismarck for an hour's drive north do not want to talk about it, but the Mandan-living Craig Keller is an exception.
People were not happy with what was going on and how protesters treated other people. "Keller says
When protesters collided with the state capital and a local mall, many North Dakotans found their actions impolite.  But less than 6 percent of the arrested were from North Dakota District Commissioner Cody Schulz, according to Morton.
Jeff Brady / NPR
"Many of the problems and problems that have happened have been caused by people who are no longer here, so there is no reason to be angry about our neighbors and friends," says Schulz. Schulz says the protests have cost his county nearly $ 40 million for police and fire, including repairing damaged infrastructure, cleaning up protest camps and prosecuting. The county emergency fund is only $ 500,000, so the legislature has taken over most of the register.
North Dakota can afford it because the state's oil business is booming. The Dakota Access pipeline is producing more than 500,000 barrels of oil each day, and despite the protests two years ago, the oil industry is expanding.
"We are building pipelines here every day," says Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
North Dakota's oil production is growing so fast that the government is unlikely to have pipeline capacity next year. One reason why Energy Transfer has recently announced plans to expand its Dakota pipeline for access to even greater transportation oil.