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Pipelines and Reservations

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A useful story on how energy companies place pipelines as close to Native American reservation land as possible without any input (or very little anyway) from Native Americans themselves. This story is from North Dakota, but could be any number of states on the Plains and in the West where racism against Native Americans runs amok, without the same sort of attention paid to other iterations of racism in the United States.

Dozens of tribal members from several Native American nations took to horseback on Friday to protest the proposed construction of an oil pipeline which would cross the Missouri river just yards from tribal lands in North Dakota.

The group of tribal members, which numbered around 200, according to a tribal spokesman, said they were worried that the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would lead to contamination of the river. The proposed route also passes through lands of historical significance to the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation, including burial grounds.

“They’re going under the river 500 yards from my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my aunt who I buried last week,” said Ladonna Allard, a member of the Standing Rock nation and the closest landowner to the proposed pipeline. “I really love my land, and if that pipeline breaks everything is gone.”

“We must fight every inch of our lives to protect the water,” Allard said.

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  • dp

    We once rode a bus from the Grand Canyon to Glen Canyon dam, took a raft ride down the Colorado, and were picked up just before the beginning of the Grand Canyon. I was absolutely shocked at the casual racism of the bus driver, who made disparaging comments about Native Americans, welfare and subsidized housing all the way back to the Grand Canyon. I can’t imagine, in a similar situation, having someone serving the public engage in such commentary about African-Americans, for instance.

    • KadeKo

      Was he on the PA in a big motorcoach?

      I have been in similar situations in a 15-pass Econoline, from an airport to a nat’l park. All I can suggest to drivers is, “We’re not paying to hear your opinions. Shaddup.”

    • DrDick

      Welcome to Indian Country!

  • twbb

    Probably not helped by SCOTUS’ relatively recent whittling away at American Indian rights.

  • Denverite

    The crazy thing is that tribal consultation requirements are a thing in federal law. There have been law review articles written about them. If the government wants whoever is doing something that potentially affects tribes to have to set down and talk with the tribes to figure out if there is a better way, they know how to do that.

    Hell, if a state Medicaid agency wants to cut Medicaid provider rates for a particular service, and there are enough Native Americans in the state that might be affected, CMS has been known to require the agency to consult with tribes and other Native American organizations before doing so (it’s a provision in ARRA).

  • Colleen

    Will this country EVER stop screwing Native Americans?!

    • No.

      • Denverite

        Well, it’s still possible that we might be able to kill them all off.

        • AMK

          It’ll be harder. Native Americans who are still around are mostly mixed-race descendants of the 2% of the original population who survived our diseases, so they have immunity now. This pipeline company can’t just sneeze on some blankets and wait a few weeks for nature to take its course.

  • Bruce Vail

    Not to take anything away from the anglo racists in the Dakotas, but I have a sister-in-law who grew up in Alaska and her stories of the day-to-day racist abuse visited on the Native Americans there will curl your hair.

    She’ll readily admit to being strongly influenced by her racist white peers as a kid. Today she is more sympathetic to their plight than she once was, but like many other white Alaskans, finds it hard to understand why so many choose a life of isolation and poverty when other options are open to them.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “…like many other white Alaskans, finds it hard to understand why so many choose a life of isolation and poverty when other options are open to them.”

      Wait, does she mean rural white conservatives, or Native Americans?

      ’cause I think that National Review weighed in on that issue recently, not that they had much helpful to say.

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