Enter the greed, the folly, and the danger posed by a $3.8 billion pipeline project from the North Dakota Tar Sands to pump 640,000 barrels of crude oil every single day of the year across the heart of Mother Earth, and crossing the Missouri River at two points, that downstream millions and millions of Americans depend upon for clean fresh water, and you have some idea of the stakes involved for human survival and that of the Earth itself, and her teeming miracle of life.
The Keystone Pipeline was stopped. So the fossil fuel industry turned to the Sandpiper line running through Minnesota and Wisconsin. It too was stopped. Now they are trying yet again.
The only thing standing between this environmental atrocity, as before, are First Americans, commonly mislabeled as Indians. Native people see these pipelines most accurately as a snake with many heads that they must cut off to save the very lands on which they live.
This cause is led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation, through whose lands this snake wishes to travel. Since 1 April members of the tribe and a growing number of other tribal nations are not only expressing their support, but are sending their people to the site of the line. To the Standing Rock Sioux, it crosses the Reservation where they have tribal sovereignty, granted them by Treaty and legally by the Federal Government, the United States of America.
Resistors have made camp there at the Sacred Stones Spirit Camp. While the regional, and increasingly the national media are mischaracterizing the native people there as violent thugs, the truth has been the very opposite. Some 28 arrests have been made, but these are volunteers from the Earth Protectors, who as the others do each day, simply stand in the way of the machinery.
North Dakota Governor John Stewart “Jack” Dalrymple III declared a state emergency last Friday by closing roads near the site, employing squads of county sheriff’s, and even closing state parks due to the traffic and violence anticipated from the protestors. His moves have heightened tensions where there have been few. The only tensions are with the bank accounts of the oil barons and their consortium known as Energy Transfer Partners.
“I appreciate the pressure that Governor Dalrymple is working under” said Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. “We are all feeling the tension created by the recent decision of the Corps of Engineers and Energy Transfer Partners to rush ahead with construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline while important legal issues of tribal sovereignty, and public health and safety remain unresolved.”
Tribal Chairman Archambault noted the guiding principles at the Cannon Ball River camps as “non-violence and peaceful prayer” in contrast to the Governor’s whipping up fear with “the language of confrontation.” Archambault has said publicly that this is an opportunity to work together in a spirit of cooperation; that this presents an opportunity, instead of some dangerous violence from these Protectors of the Earth.
Anyone monitoring Native News Network and other indigenous media sites can watch the Earth Protectors in action. They follow the very best historical traditions of non-violent passive resistance pioneered by Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and dare we say Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce? It is in the spirit also of Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau who at Walden Pond connected himself to the very Earth they seek to protect. And who stood for non-violent civil disobedience, suffered arrest, rather than support an unjust war.
They pray reverently and quietly. They stand. They sometimes march, but always with dignity, and peace. They camp. And they speak truth and expose the lies and the grievous harm the fossil fuel industry seeks to do to Mother Earth, on which all human life depends.
From the places that Struggles for Justice serve most come more Earth Protectors. They come from tribal nations such as the Oneida, and the Ojibwe, and many more. The leader of the successful battle against Enbridge Inc, and the Sandpiper line, nationally renowned Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe, has come to Sacred Stones Spirit Camp too.
“This is the extraction of fossil fuel, and it comes with a growing list of incidents, lots of structural anomalies, spills such as the one in Michigan that found its way to the Kalamazoo River. It’s a lot of risk to a lot of people, and just the wrong thing to be doing,” said LaDuke in a national appearance with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now last Thursday.
Despite pleas by the oil industry that pipelines can now be made to safely transport oil over vast distances, nothing could be further from the truth. The immense pressures in the pipes over a period of years, the heating and cooling of the planet cracks pipes and cause spills. Companies do not have the people as they cost too much to even monitor the line all the time. Technology to monitor it usually fails too. If this one goes, as it surely must if it is built, it will be the Missouri River and so many communities downstream. That means white non-indigenous people will have much less access to clean drinking water. And all the life supported by the Earth there will also be greatly harmed.
That means every single American has a stake in stopping this pipeline. It is not just a bunch of Indians who we rarely properly acknowledge or care about acting strangely up in North Dakota. They are acting in the sanest manner possible. The violation of their lands cannot be permitted to occur yet again. They matter. Not only do Black Lives Matter but Red Lives Matter. The outdated stereotypes of indigenous people harm those very people and diminish us all.
The oil carried by the pipeline will also be made into gasoline or other fuel that will pour even more hydrocarbons into an already poisoned atmosphere that is spurring climate change and is a threat to all life on the Earth. The stakes are that big.
“The system is crumbling all around us,” LaDuke said. “And at the end of the fossil fuel era, it’s time to move toward an elegant transition. But in the final thrashing of the fossil fuel era, what you have is a lot of extreme behavior going on. You have extreme extraction. You have, you know, tar sands mining. You have blowing up, you know, oil rigs. And you have endless, endless contamination. And at the same time, you have climate change happening.”
The greed fueling illogical and idiotic juvenile behavior by the oil industry at this time, when climate change is real and worsening by the year is madness.
Tribal Chairman Archambault indicated how important he, his tribe, and all tribal nations view this threat, one of the many heads of the snake:
What is happening at the Cannon Ball Camp reflects a historic moment for the Sanding Rock Sioux Tribe. For the First Time in 100 years we are hosting the reconvening of the Seven Council Fires of the Oceti Sakowin. This attests to our commitment to working together for our children’s future.
Thomas Martin Saturday
For Struggles for Justice