By Alexandra Pacheco
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States. The country was divided, nearly half overjoyed with his election, while the other half was in disbelief and embarrassment for new president-elect. For many, such as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the future is uncertain. This particular group of people have been protesting for the discontinuation of the North Dakota pipeline, since first learning about plans for the pipeline in 2014. But it’s only been in recent months that the issue has gained national attention, as thousands of protesters, including many Native Americans and clean water advocates have gathered in North Dakota in attempt to block the 1,200-mile project. Now that Trump has become the voice of the United States, it is important for him to listen to the tribe’s concerns.
Trump’s financial disclosure report shows that he has almost $1 million invested in the Energy Transfer Partners’ pipeline. The CEO of the company also donated an abundance amount of money in support of the Trump campaign before the election. The Trump administration has stated that, without Trump fully disclosing his opinions on the pipeline, they will give the company the green light to continue the building of the pipeline through Standing Rock. This 1,172 mile pipeline not only has the potential of contaminating the drinking water but it also poses a threat to the sacred grounds, such as burial sites, that are very important to the Sioux tribe.
Since Trump has been declared to office, he has been under a lot of criticism. Trump’s administration needs to take more time listening to the voices of the indigenous people and taking that time to fully observe what their concerns are could potentially silence a lot of Trump’s critics. This is not about completely dismantling the pipeline because that’s not realistic, but rerouting the pipeline would be. This needs to be about listening to each other’s concerns and it needs to be about coming to an agreement that benefits both sides. This country has been split by a dividing line that seems to be only getting thicker, so it is up to Trump and his administration to work on behalf of all of us. The pipeline is nearly completed but Energy Transfer is unable to continue the building of the pipeline under Lake Oahe until they get permission from Army Corps of Engineering. It would be beneficial and productive if the Trump administration and the corps collaborated to figure out what is best for the land, Energy Transfer, and the Sioux tribe.
Another tactic that could improve Trump’s popularity in terms of race relations is respecting the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868 that was between the United States and the Sioux tribe. The Sioux tribe, along with other tribes around the world, are worried about environmental and cultural threat the pipeline can produce. They feel as if their voices are being silenced by corporations. Ignoring the treaty can cause a lot of damage to Trump’s future legacy. Article 2 of the Fort Laramie Treaty states the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation and what the Sioux tribe is entitled to. Also, under Article 16 of the treaty it explains, “the country north of the North Platte River and east of the summits of the Big Horn Mountains shall be held and considered to be unceded Indian territory, and also stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon,” without the consent of the tribe.
In conclusion, this is not about disassembling the pipeline. This country is made of people from various backgrounds and just because they are not part of the elite doesn’t mean they should be silenced. It is up to our leaders and their administrations to hear the voices of the people. Although Trump has been chastised by a good portion of this country, as of January 20th he is going to be the President of the United States. He and his administration need to go about this pipeline conflict carefully, this could be the opportunity for Trump to start with a somewhat clean slate and give hope for the people who doubt his leadership.