The American Indians challenging an oil pipeline that would cross four states have some legal advantages in a courtroom, particularly their tribe's status as a sovereign nation with long ties to the land in question.
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But stopping a project like the Dakota Access pipeline after construction has begun is difficult. And even if the Standing Rock Sioux win in federal court, the result might simply be an altered route.
A judge is expected to rule Friday on whether to block construction of the pipeline, which is supposed to pass close to the tribal reservation near the North Dakota-South Dakota border.
No matter what the court decides, opponents seem prepared for a long fight, following many of the same tactics used to defeat the Canada-to-Nebraska segment of the Keystone XL pipeline.