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After months of protest in increasingly harsh conditions and under an international spotlight, the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies appear to have scored a major success: The Army Corps of Engineers has said it will deny the current route for the unbuilt portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline and conduct a study about the environmental impact of several alternate paths.

"I am thankful there were some leaders in the federal government that realized something was not right even though it's legal," said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault in announcing the news. "For the first time in history... they heard our voices. This is something that will go down in history and is a blessing for all indigenous people. I heard the Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the easement and they will reroute."

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While some have been cautious in celebrating the decision, saying it may only amount to a delay, the news comes the day before the deadline federal officials had given protesters who were blocking construction to vacate the North Dakota site. Previously, activists had braved water cannons fired at them in freezing temperatures by police, as well as attack dogs and mace.

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The Sioux have said that existing route for the nearly completed 1,172-mile underground oil pipeline, which goes through Lake Oahe, threatens their drinking water and sacred burial sites. Politicians, celebrities, and ordinary citizens have joined and donated to their cause as they have tried to halt the $3.8 billion project with peaceful demonstrations. The pipeline was previously rerouted away from the city of Bismarck without any such activity on the part of the local populace—though many residents later stood with Standing Rock.

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