All involved in the North Dakota oil pipeline battle await a federal judge to decide if the Dakota Access pipeline construction will continue, or grant an injunction. The judges ruling is expected tomorrow, September 9.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began gathering in protest outside Cannon Ball in south central North Dakota back in April. The protest has since grown to include tribes across the country. Energy Transfer Partners (the pipeline company) claims threats have been made against contractors, and has sued some of the protesters for harassing workers, and blocking the work site. The protesters say their stand is a peaceful one, though there have been reports of aggressive confrontation. There is video circulating showing protesters being attacked by the pipeline company workers with pepper spray and dogs.
The Standing Rock Sioux reservation lies just south of the pipeline’s charted path, across ranches, and beneath the Missouri River. The Dakota Access pipeline is set to span 1,2000 miles, from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fears contamination of their water source, and sacred lands.
I understand that money talks. In this case, money screams–3.7 billion dollars! But I also understand human rights, the significance of heritage, and the rights of indigenous peoples. Let me break this down:
- Humans need clean water to live; and to be clear, Native Americans are humans. The Standing Rock Sioux see this pipeline as a great environmental threat–they are concerned their only source of fresh water could become contaminated, an issue that should be taken seriously.
- Preserving heritage is not only significant to indigenous peoples, but it is their right. According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 31, it is emphasized that indigenous peoples have the right to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition. Maybe I’m a moron, but doesn’t sacred land fall under this protection? Seriously, if someone knows better than I, please tell me.
- Rights to identity, and health are protected by the Declaration. Maybe I am reaching here, but I think water and land free from oil contamination promotes good health.
I know local economies stand lose out on millions of dollars if the Standing Rock Sioux are victorious. But I’m a humanitarian–an ignorant, “bleeding heart liberal.” I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux.