Dakota Access Pipeline, an issue for indigenous rights

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Mni Wiconi: Water is life. Which is why, when the Dakota Access Pipeline was routed to run ten miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota, it was vetoed for environmental concerns.

The pipeline would run too close to residential and commercial areas to be deemed safe. The alternate route was placed and now the pipeline will run south of Bismarck. Now, a half-mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation border, it will go through Cannonball River: water the tribe accesses for daily living.

On February 2, a lawsuit was placed on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. This pipeline would disrupt numerous sacred burial sites and ancestral land meant to be protected by treaty.

However, before the court could come to any conclusion, that weekend the company went in and began construction.

On September 20, seven months later, David Archambault II, the Standing Rock Sioux chairmen went to the United Nations Geneva conference.

He went with the hope of gaining support during this state of emergency, to have his tribe’s—and all others affected by this development—voices heard.

Progress was met with a temporary pause, one Archambault believes is a promising sign. But we have to ask ourselves, how has this been allowed to happen? How, by deeming the pipeline unsafe for a residential area, has this company got away with moving it on to land allotted to First Nations?

We have to ask ourselves a question we regretfully already know the answer to.

North America was founded on genocide. If you’re like me, it was your ancestors who came to this country, soaked its earth in blood and then claimed it was all part of a higher calling.

The roots of our country, as we know it, are colonialism. It’s the ongoing act of colonialism which allows government and corporations to prioritize development over Indigenous rights.

I don’t have the answers to this problem, not even close. However, I know enough to know the American Government, Canadian Government and us as citizens cannot allow these blatant injustices to continue.

This isn’t a call to arms. I’m not trying to rally an outrage where we all storm Parliament. But what I am asking you to do, dear reader, is pay attention.

Notice what is happening around you, because it’s our willful ignorance to events such as the Dakota Access Pipeline which gives power to exploitation and inequity. Unless we do something, there is no real end in sight to a problem four-hundred and eight years in the making.


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