Monday, September 12, 2016

Can We Talk About The Dakota Access Pipeline?

If you want proof at what bullshit our media has become, look no further than what's going on in North Dakota right now. Then check your the news... I guarantee you won't see a damn thing about it. Local news is a little better about it. I've at least seen news articles float by me about the protests in Iowa about the Bakken Pipeline (which, admittedly, I didn't read, but I've at least been vaguely aware of the controversy, which is more than I could say about the North Dakota section of the pipeline, which confusingly is being called Dakota Access- but is actually part of the same big-ass pipeline.)

Heavy.com has a pretty good round-up of the basics of what's going down in North Dakota and DemocracyNow.org has been all over this- they've got the latest here. (Speaking of which: I always appreciate news sources that are dedicated to the actual news instead of fluff and Trump. I will have to peruse it more often.)

What's bullshit about all this?

First of all, the dogs. I don't give a damn if they weren't non-violent protesters as one side has claimed and yes, I know, I know- YouTube/Social Media videos can be suspect sometimes because people can edit them to show whatever they want. But that said: come on now, private security/mercenaries with K9's? What the fuck country is this anyway? Bad enough we had police rolling through places like Ferguson in frickin' tanks, but these guys aren't even fucking police. If your pipeline requires attack dogs and private goons, call me crazy, but move your damn pipeline.

Second of all: there's a bit of vague language about this- it's not clear whether or not burial grounds are being desecrated or if it's 'sacred ground.' I'm going to assume that if you're a member of an indigenous tribe, then you could make a very convincing argument that all land is 'sacred ground' in which case...  I like your argument, but you can also see how the other side could pick that apart, right? If there are actual burial grounds being disturbed, desecrated or destroyed, then OH HELL NO.

Look, the older I get the more dismayed I am at how incredibly ignorant I am of the history of this country. Is the relationship we have with the First Peoples of America all that great? No. They've gotten the fuzzy end of a very shitty lollipop for centuries now. Can it be completely fixed? No. And I'm not a Native American, so I won't speak as to what their community or individual tribes might hope for or want. But what I do know is that like it or not, good and bad, their story is part of this country. Cultures, languages and tradition of all native peoples deserve to be protected, by law if necessary.

Third of all, there's the matter of tribal sovereignty. This is the part where I get a little fuzzy about things. Looking at the maps of the route out there it appears to go around the bulk of the Standing Rock Reservation. While the tribes have some very real objections about the route (it crosses the Missouri upstream of them, which means if there's a spill, which you know, happens from time to time with pipelines then their main source of water would be effed. Hard.) I'm confused how and why this construction ended up on tribal lands? If it's on tribal lands, it needs to get off. I don't know who set this route, but someone should have anticipated this and steered clear of tribal lands whenever possible.

I get it. We're a nation thirsty for oil and this pipeline means construction and jobs and money, but tribal sovereignty matters too. With the full costs of things like the Animas River spill still being counted and felt, it's not surprising that there's a concerted effort to protect the Missouri from the potential hazards of a pipeline. I have been on record stating that building something like Keystone XL seemed to be a good idea. But this situation has forced me to reconsider my position. There has to be a way to respect and protect tribal lands and sovereignty while building a pipeline. The people who want to build this just didn't look hard enough for it. And at the end of the day, we've spent centuries as a nation violating the sovereignty and desecrating the lands of the First Nations of this entire continent. It won't stop until we stand up and say, 'no more.'

So: no more. Or as the hashtag seems to going around: #NoDAPL.

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