For two months, the Dakota plains of Standing Rock Reservation have become a national flashpoint over the rights of Native Americans to protect their land.

The Sioux tribes of Standing Rock object to a nearly 1,200-mile pipeline designed to transport Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. They say the pipeline, which runs near their reservation, could leak into their water supplies, endanger their ancestral lands, and violate a treaty the tribes made with the U.S. government in 1851.

As many as 7,000 people have joined the protest, aimed at blocking construction of the pipeline. Law enforcement has responded with rubber bullets and mass arrests.

The protest has gathered support from across the country, ranging from empty Facebook gestures to Portland activists turning a school bus into a mobile medical refuge and clinic.

But Standing Rock isn't the only place where tribes are defending their lands from environmental threats.

Treaty rights dating from the 1850s grant tribes in Oregon and Washington the right to their customary fishing and hunting grounds and have been used in some cases to challenge industrial and environmental projects across the Northwest.

Along the Columbia River, Native tribes are also engaged in multiple fights over land and water.

1. Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy oil terminal Vancouver, Wash.

Potentially the Northwest's largest oil terminal, it's projected to handle 360,000 barrels of crude oil a day and could double the number of oil-carrying railcars through the Gorge–to 3,360.

Resistance: The Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Warm Springs tribes–all part of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission–have testified to the increases in oil train traffic along the Gorge and the risk of derailments.

2. Portland Harbor Superfund site

Portland Harbor was designated a Superfund site 16 years ago, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its plan to clean up the site

in June.

Resistance: The Yakama Nation, which pushed for the original Superfund designation as early as 1998, has advocated for a broader cleanup of the site, citing concerns over fishing rights. It's funded scientific studies, withdrawn from the group that serves as trustees of the site, and lobbied the head of the EPA, administrator Gina McCarthy.

3. Nestlé water bottling plant Cascade Locks

Hood River County voted in May to ban water-bottling plants, but the town of Cascade Locks still wants the business, and is working to overrule voters in the courts.

Resistance: A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde went on a hunger strike for five days outside the state Capitol in September to highlight the tribes' objections to the impact on their fishing rights.

4. Union Pacific train track expansion Mosier

Union Pacific wants to build a 4-mile stretch of track that would allows slow trains to pull off the main track to let faster trains pass.

Resistance: The Yakama Nation hired a legal team that successfully persuaded rural Wasco County's board of commissioners to vote against the plan last week, partly because it would interfere with the tribe's access to its fishing grounds.

5. Lost Valley Ranch/Willow Creek Dairy


This project proposed by California dairyman Greg te Velde could become the state's second-largest dairy. Plans include 30,000 cows and 7,288 acres that would produce 13 million cubic feet of manure per year and more than 10 million gallons of wastewater, according to the application for the project on the state's website, as first reported by The Oregonian.

Resistance: The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation say they're concerned about drinking water. They've submitted technical comments to the state.