The Dakota pipeline protests explained

The Dakota protests (Supplied)
The Dakota protests (Supplied)

Hundreds have been arrested, and bloody clashes are leaving protesters battered and broken. So what's happening in Dakota?

A company from Texas wants to build a pipeline which would connect the oil rich area of North Dakota to Illinois, and claims it would be an economic boom.

But the news is heartbreaking for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who say the controversial project would destroy sacred burial and prayer sites.

The tribe is native to the area, with a prophecy previously warning a black snake would infiltrate the land, causing damage beyond anything they've ever imagined.

Members of the tribe have returned home, and many activists have flocked to the scene.

There are not only fears about sacred land being destroyed, but also mass water and soil contamination, especially if the pipeline broke, or became faulty in anyway.

Celebrities have been standing up for the cause too - including our own Taika Waititi who posted a picture on social media, saying he was 100 percent behind the cause.

Actress Shailene Woodley, known for her role in the Divergent movie series, is facing trial after being arrested during the protest action.

"I care about clean water, and right now they're still trying to build a pipeline. I am a human being above everything else," she says.

Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo has even provided protesters with mobile solar trailers, as winter approaches.

He also brought renowned civil rights activist Jesse Jackson to the site, who gave a rousing and impassioned speech.

"If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I know I can achieve it. Keep hope alive!"

Kiwis are also getting involved, with hundreds of people taking to social media to share videos of themselves performing solidarity hakas for those at Standing Rock.

Those protesting the pipeline say they'll stick around for the long haul, with Sioux Tribe elders considering a class action lawsuit.

But there doesn't seem to be an end in sight, as more people flock to Dakota to stand with those vowing to not go down without a fight.

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