While the vast majority of Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving, America’s government and corporate America hit Native Americans with cannons of cold water during freezing temperatures to keep them away from a billion dollar project.
I’m sure you’ve seen the #NoDAPL hashtags on social media. It’s the reference to the Dakota Access Pipeline that is currently in construction on Native American treaty land.
Some wonder why Native Americans are all up in arms about this pipeline.
The reasoning is simple.
They want to continue to have clean water and they want the clean water to flow for generations from now. The pipeline is being constructed in and on treaty land in North Dakota. Approval was not given by the Native American Chairpersons or appropriate Boards for the federal government and Energy Transfer Partners, a corporation, to construct the pipeline running through sacred land.
This is important because Energy Transfer Partners is a for-profit company building a pipeline that could easily contaminate the drinking water of the Native Americans who live there. Their water could become as contaminated as the water in Flint, Michigan and eventually lead to a decline in health for those residents.
The answer should be, to reroute the pipeline into an approved area and away from the land which the protestors are fighting to protect.
But, that would cost in excess of dollars which the corporation and the federal government are unwilling to pay or forfeit. If that happened, the project would have to be stalled and that would cost more time and money. Instead, the pipeline project is continuing to snake its way through Standing Rock, which is the sacred land protestors are peacefully fighting to protect.
The function of this pipeline is to fill it with oil transport it. According to the DAPL website, the pipeline will transport almost half a million barrels of oil per day and it’s capacity is 570,000 barrels. Historically, pipelines have broken often. Once the pipelines break, the oil seeps into the water and while oil and water don’t mix, it will get into the drinking and bathing water of the people living on the land atop the pipeline. By this time next year, the pipeline is expected to be fully operational.
This is no cheap project. It’s a 3.7 billion, with a “b”, dollar investment by the government, stakeholders and Energy Transfer Partners. The project promises to grow the economy and create thousands of jobs. The problem is the people who live there are more concerned about their health and welfare as opposed to money. As far as this project is concerned, all Native Americans want is to get the corporations and federal government off their land and to keep their water clean. Protestors are not asking for jobs. Protestors are not asking for money. The people of Standing Rock are not even asking to profit from this project.
Native Americas are simply asking to be left alone and for the pipeline project to stop so they may maintain their way of life.
While we celebrated Thanksgiving, a historical time in which Europeans sat down to feast with Native Americans, has been transformed.
The federal government and big corporations shot Native Americans with rubber bullets, sprayed them with freezing water in subzero temperatures and arrested Indigenous People on their own land simply because they are refusing the construction of a pipeline on their native and treaty land. Indigenous People would rather keep their water clean for the present lives that inhabit the land and for generations to come. Listening to the stories and watching the attacks fueled by the government and big corporations should lead us all to think about what’s happening to Indigenous People on the land they inhabited prior to Christopher Columbus’ arrival. This is more than a blemish for America. It’s an embarrassment, an open wound and a national shame to take over sacred and treaty land and impose violence on non-violent protestors as they stand together for clean water on their own property.