Established in 2017 "to lift up the extraordinary courage and will it takes to stand up to oppressive corporate and political power," the Wallace Award was given to the Standing Rock tribe in recognition of "its unyielding courage in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and its dedication to transitioning to renewable energy." The foundation also has pledged an investment of up to $1 million in support of new renewable energy projects led by the tribe as an alternative model for economic development and energy justice.
The tribe's efforts over the past year to protect water sources, sacred lands, and indigenous rights by protesting, at grave personal risk, completion of the pipeline along a route violating treaty law drew international attention and support. Although Barack Obama had denied an easement allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish the pipeline, President Donald Trump gave the green light to the project in January, and oil began flowing through the pipeline in June.
"We hold the Standing Rock community in high regard for their care for human and ecological well-being," said Scott Fitzmorris, co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund and great grandson of Henry A. Wallace. "By resisting the dysfunctional narrative imposed by the fossil-fuel industry, Standing Rock has demonstrated what it looks like to prioritize well-being over profit for the few."
"This is not over," said Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II. "We continue to fight the pipeline in court and await a decision that adequately reflects the rule of law established in this country — one so often flouted by this administration. However, we will never stop fighting for our planet and future generations; this resiliency is part of who we are as a tribe. We are grateful and honored to accept the inaugural Henry A. Wallace Award and a grant from the Wallace Global Fund that will help us continue our resistance against the pipeline and transition to clean energy technologies like wind and solar."