08.18.2017 by @Reform_Justice
Almost exactly a year ago today we embarked upon a mission and headed out for a late Summer rendezvous with the Lakota Sioux in Cannonball, North Dakota. The Standing Rock Reservation resides in the heart of the Great Plains. We felt a kindred spiritual tie to the people standing up for their rights against Corporate America and set off in hopes of helping bring this story to others. Little did we know we would be stepping into a truly historic moment. The people and the enduring Indigenous Movement that greeted us upon arrival are already the stuff of legend. The story of the Water Protectors is far from over.
The courageous Lakota Sioux at that time had been joined by several thousand fellow Water Protectors from many supporting Tribes from around the nation and abroad. In mid to late August 2016, the fight for water was just beginning to gain real national exposure. Very soon thereafter, a powder keg would explode and a grass roots movement captivate the World. One year later we want to update where things stand as the movement has moved off the front pages somewhat, yet the legal battles continue.
While the fight for water protection took center stage, we at BTR saw at the heart of this struggle an outcry from indigenous people. A people who had once again felt lied to and cheated by a federal US government and the interests they serve. This is nothing new to Native Americans. Our country is built upon the mistreatment and disregard for our native ancestral peoples. Treaty rights and promises have been broken time and time again. So many times, in fact, that the Federal Government seldom even considers whether they are violating Treaty rights anymore.
In future articles, we will look deeper into the ways the US Government has lied to and deceived our Native American forefathers. The story of US oppression and genocide is staggering. The mistreatment of minorities in this country has been ongoing since inception. We will also look deeper into how indigenous movements continue to fight for environmental rights we should all be concerned with, both here, and in other countries. Though the Lakota Sioux and their vast array of supporters would not so claim a year ago, this fight was not over water, it was over Race.
Russell Means American Indian Movement leader involved in protests including the 1969 Alcatraz Occupation and Wounded Knee, SD in 1973
Our nation and the capitalistic forces that drive it are legendary for abusing minorities. Not even 250 years into existence, we have allowed slavery, turned a blind eye to the manipulation of minority labor, and have put laws in place to ensure oppression. Recently we have been asked by a new President, to “look at the other side” of White Supremacy and Hate Mongering. We try not to veer into the political lane or spectrum here, but in some instances, it’s unavoidable. These and other issues need to reach a broader audience and need the help of concerned people everywhere.
Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI) were somewhat more sympathetic to the plights of Indigenous people and ordered an EIS or Environmental Impact Study be done before the Army Corps of Engineers issued any final permits for boring under the Missouri River or Lake Oahe.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs:
“Indian Affairs (IA) is the oldest bureau of the Department of the Interior. Established in 1824, IA currently provides services (directly or through contracts, grants or compacts) to approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. There are 567 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives in the United States.”
was tapped under Barack Obama to help mediate and negotiate Treaty Rights and to consider Environmental Impact for the Standing Rock Reservation, The Cheyenne River Reservation, and everyone within the Missouri River Basin and watershed. The EPA was a vastly different agency a year ago and was under mandate to protect our environment. The Army Corp of Engineers answered to a leadership concerned with Climate Change, our national carbon footprint, and how public works projects affect our collective future. That governmental goodwill evaporated with the November 2016 election of Donald J Trump.
Trump is (or was) a stakeholder in Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL, Trans-Canada, and many other natural gas and crude oil pipelines. Whether he divested before taking office is neither here nor there. Within days of taking the oath of office, one of Trump’s very FIRST Executive Orders was to direct the ACOE to issue permits allowing the final DAPL aquifer crossings (thus allowing completion of the pipeline). In several quick strokes of the pen, he also revived the previously dead Keystone XL pipeline.
Those mandates have now been struck down by a US District Judge. In June US District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ruled Trump’s EO invalid and ordered the ACOE to complete the EIS as previously ordered.
Oil is now of course flowing from the Bakken oil fields to distribution centers in Illinois and beyond. A new administration has since pulled out of the Paris Summit and other global agreements dealing with renewable energy. Instead, this administration seems to favor fossil fuels and ignoring the development of wind, solar, or other renewable technologies. It would appear at the very least, that this administration is more concerned with the lobby that got him elected than the constituents he was sworn to serve. Policies favoring fossil fuel development at a point in history when the entire world is moving away from these resources and developing new clean environmentally friendly technologies.
The picture that heads this article shows the Bakken Oil Fields at night via satellite. The image is breathtaking as we see the flaring (burning off of gases during extraction and refinement processes) illuminate the Great Plains in an area larger than Denver Colorado to the Southwest. So many questions and issues are embedded within the DAPL saga and ongoing struggle. Issues of Race and Native American relations, environmental impact for drinking water, carbon emissions and standards, and global policy on Climate Change to name but a few.
Where does it go from here? We here at Be the Rain will remain steadfast in focusing on environmental issues as well as other areas of justice and social reform. This article is the first in a new series looking at these and other related developments moving forward. We hope you will become involved in these incredibly important issues and will take up the fight.
Here are some links to ETP investments and corporate speculation:
Some related reading on Trump Administration Environmental policies 2017:
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