The United States’ racist legacy of exploiting Native Americans is only broadening.
After the Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted through sacred indigenous land to protect the white citizens of Bismarck from contaminated drinking water, #NODAPL protesters had to fight through pepper spray and rubber bullets to make the rest of the country care. Even after a summer and fall of protests, major news outlets persisted with mediocre coverage until Obama directed the Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily delay the pipeline.
The corporation in charge of DAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, declared that the Obama administration was merely “currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency,” forgetting the profound injustice that allowed the original inhabitants of this land to be a “narrow constituency”.
And then Trump became president.
Among the whirlwind of executive orders and protests, some of us may wonder why Trump had to be the one politician to follow through on his campaign promises. One action that may have gotten lost is his decision to cancel the Army Corps’ environmental impact review, ending their temporary delay. On February 8th, the Army Corps granted their final easement, allowing ETP to begin construction.
Theres a lot of despair to go around with this decision. Why didn’t Obama do more? Why don’t people see how obviously entangled Trump and his cabinet are with the interests of ETP: Trump used to own shares in the company, and Energy Secretary pick Rick Perry sits on ETP’s board of directors. Most recently, in an eery COINTELPRO flashback, sources discovered that the FBI is investigating Standing Rock protesters.
The Dakota Access Pipeline has resumed construction. What can be done?
There is still hope.
Donald Trump recently claimed that the pipeline wasn’t “controversial”. This is a false statement, going from the first Standing Rock protests up until now. There are still a variety of actions being taken against the pipeline that you too can get involved in.
Protesters have pressured cities across the nation, most notably Seattle, to follow the money and divest from companies such as Wells Fargo that finance the pipeline. Seattle’s decision came after Trump’s DAPL and Keystone executive order, showing that many local governments are willing to defy the administration on this issue.
As police attempt to forcibly remove protesters from the Standing Rock reservation, army veterans are returning to North Dakota to form a human shield. Veterans showed up at Standing Rock back in December, but now are especially needed under the new administration and Trump’s executive order.
After a full winter of protests, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is planning a march on Washington on March 10th. The tribe is calling on indigenous and non-indigenous alike to show opposition to the pipeline and ongoing support for the empowerment of native people.
There are so many ways that we can help these efforts as individuals. Donate to the legal funds of water protectors who have been arrested. Stay away from companies that are invested in DAPL. Attend a protest.
Standing Rock is a fight too crucial to abandon. There is no reason for us to be pessimistic and ignorant about something so easily avoidable. Remember: the Dakota Access Pipeline was preventable when it was set to run through Bismarck. We can’t allow them to build it through Standing Rock.