For past and future

We’re behind the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against Big Oil

The protests happening in the middle of the country over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline should be eye-opening for everyone. We should all be appalled to see protesters attacked by guard dogs and pepper-sprayed. And for what? For defending their land, water and sacred sites?

As most issues seem to be these days, this one has become an us vs. them, a Native Americans vs. Big Oil issue, a Native Americans vs. the United States issue. And it most certainly is that. But there’s more to this story. The tribe most affected by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux, is understandably concerned that it will disrupt not only sacred spaces—a tribal burial ground was bulldozed over the Labor Day weekend—but also the environment. The pipeline goes directly under the Missouri River; a spill there would be catastrophic not only for the reservation’s drinking supply, but also for anybody and anything downstream.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.8 billion project meant to ship crude oil from Bakken fields in northwest North Dakota south through the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois. The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees our federal waterways, granted a permit for the project this summer, but the Standing Rock Sioux argue that permit didn’t take into consideration their cultural heritage sites or potential threats to the environment, including their tribal lands. Hundreds of Native Americans and other concerned citizens have joined their fight, locking themselves to heavy equipment while also taking their case to federal court.

Earlier this week (Sept. 6), a judge gave the Standing Rock Sioux “protectors” a small victory and ordered construction be halted near their land. Another decision could come any day. We hope they prevail, as this is an issue all Americans should get behind—protecting our history, the Earth and our water.

It’s time to start seriously supporting alternative energies, because this isn’t the world we want to live in, one in which our native tribes continue to fight for their land, one in which we as Americans fight Big Oil on behalf of the environment.