I think at this point, everyone in the United States knows about the Standing Rock protests. I’ve even heard about a sister-protest that was organized in the UK to support them. Anyone who has been watching the situation unfold knows what happened a few days ago. I’m not a journalist and I’m not an expert and I certainly wasn’t there, but I have a few thoughts on what happened, and the future. Please understand that I am not presenting myself as an expert here, nor am I trying to pick a fight. I simply think that this is something that we – as citizens of the United States and as human beings – should talk about.
On Sunday, the Army refused to sign the permits that would allow the pipeline to continue its present course, which would go under the Missouri River and threaten to poison water sources leading directly to the Sioux reservation and their ancient burial grounds. This is more than ancestral respect and protection, however. Water poising is inevitable when you begin drilling for oil around primary sources and the result would splay out to affect more than one community, and certainly not just the Sioux. The Sioux, however, are raised in a culture more conscientious of the environment and its gifts of life than the average American child. This is not a criticism on the American education system – it is a fact of our culture. In reality, there should have been a lot more people standing up against this pipeline, but we are inclined to sit idly by when it comes to a choice between the environment and convenience.
However, the Obama administration has chosen to stand with the people as a democracy should. There’s a lovely letter on the Standing with Standing Rock webpage thanking the President for his bravery to do what is right, and also reaching out to make reparations with local law enforcement after the unfortunate incidents earlier this year. The whole thing has been a mess, bringing to light the sort of things most people don’t want to talk about – everything from police brutality to failure to abide by government treaties with the Native American nations.
Aside from the lack of dialogue, another thing I find particularly troubling is that come January, all this might not matter. The fact is, on Friday, January 20, 2017 our entire government is going to get flipped upside down. Any political action taken by the Obama administration during its eight year run can be picked up and challenged by the new administration, and Trump has pledged to do exactly that. So these people who have stood to protect the water may have stood for nothing, because the oil companies have lost about $450 million in these delays, and they’re angry. A spokesperson for Trump has stated he stands with the Dakota Pipeline, but details other than that have been scarce so we simply don’t know what will happen when he takes office, or if this matter will be worth his time. We don’t know. And so all these people who are, at present, living in tents in extreme cold and unready to go home because the future is so uncertain… may be doing so for nothing.
That makes my heart ache. It isn’t right.
Some other articles about Standing Rock and the developments in the last week:
- As North Dakota Pipeline Is Blocked, Veterans at Standing Rock Cheer
- Standing for Standing Rock
- Weathering the Storm at Standing Rock as Political Battle Ensues
- Battle Over an Oil Pipeline: Teaching About the Standing Rock Sioux Protests
- Standing Rock Pipeline Protesters, Ordered to Leave, Dig In
- Standing Rock Protest: Trump to Review Oil Pipeline Ruling