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Standing strong at Standing Rock

Standing strong at Standing Rock
Photo courtesy of Manal El Haj. .

The Dakota Access Pipeline has gained national attention as thousands of protestors have set up camp at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Even as the harsh winter months roll in, the indigenous people and their supporters are uniting in protest against the pipeline that could be installed beneath Indian land.

Aspen Navarro, geography resource and environmental studies senior, said she opposes the pipeline for environmental reasons, but as a Native American, there are many other reasons that she is against it.

“It’s getting past the point of just being disrespectful to the Native Americans—the Standing Rock tribe,” Navarro said. “It’s now going into disregard for the environment. I mean, complete inhumane activity is going on there.”

This “inhumane” activity in question is the effect of an oil pipeline being built by Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline will transport oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Field to a refinery in central Illinois.

According to the Energy Transfer Partners’ official website, “the pipeline will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation to move Bakken crude oil to major U.S. markets to support domestic demand.”

Though the Standing Rock Sioux have been the forerunners of the protest, hundreds of tribes, activists and volunteers across the nation are calling for the construction of the pipeline to halt; moreover, for its route to be altered, and directed away from the reservation.

Dr. Mario Garza, founder and Board of Elders’ Chair of the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos said this is the general stance for indigenous people regarding pipelines. Garza is also a member of the Miakan-Garza band of the Coahuiltecan people, and said the reservation sits on sacred burial sites; any disruption to these sites will interfere with the spiritual journey of the tribe’s ancestral remains.

Besides his fears regarding social injustice, Garza said the contamination of the tribe’s water presents the largest concern.

“When the Europeans came down and tried to get rid of all of the Indians, people think that all of that has stopped, but it has not stopped,” Garza said. “I mean this is a present day, perfect example of how they are still doing it. In the old days, they tried to slaughter all of the buffalo to do away with our food supply, now they are trying to do away with our drinking water.”

Dr. Jason Julian, associate professor in the department of geography, said that although pipelines are necessary for society to drive cars and have access to plastic, pipelines are typically always met with apprehension.

“The big concern with the Dakota Access Pipeline is it’s going to go underneath Lake Oahe, which is on the Missouri River, and that’s where the Sioux nation gets all of their water. (Energy Transfer Partners) put the pipeline in a place where it doesn’t intersect the water resource so the impact is minimal, but if there’s ever a leak, that leak can ultimately get to one of those water resources,” Julian said.

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s website, there were 328 significant pipeline incidents in the U.S. in 2015, with 28 serious incidents occurring. Julian said these things can happen for a number of reasons.

“You have Earth movements, weather problems such as freezing (causing) pipes to corrode. A lot of times construction activity will hit a pipeline,” Julian said. “Pipelines leak over time.”

The U.S. Energy and Information Administration’s website states that the U.S. produced an average of about 9.4 million barrels of crude oil per day. While the oil industry is no doubt a major U.S. production, Navarro said that herein lies the problem.

“No matter what, oil is always going to be a big thing,” Navarro said. “We’ve seen many, many situations where oil has won, and it has also caused some very big environmental concerns that not a lot of people care about until after the fact that its actually happened.”

People can get involved by texting “WATER” to 82623, where a link will notify the sender how to donate to the protestors taking camp with Standing Rock. Navarro suggests voicing your opinion by writing letters to the president and the governor of North Dakota.

Tribes across the nation have shown their support through sending supplies, including the Miakan-Garza Band. Garza said they also sent their tribal flag to Standing Rock as a symbol of solidarity.

“Here people are being proactive, and caring about the environment, but also caring about their culture,” Navarro said. “It’s awesome how much this has really taken off.”

Donation Link: http://standingrock.org/news/standing-rock-sioux-tribe–dakota-access-pipeline-donation-fund/

Data links: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=268&t=6



  1. “Standing strong at Standing Rock By JeriLynn Thorpe – Dec 29, 2016, 12:00 pm”

    is an astonishing piece of a deplorable lack of journalist curiosity regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” since The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924! That single Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, made moot all previous common law-state and federal-including Presidential Executive Orders, Commerce Clause and Treaty Clause alleged Indian Treaties (if any U.S. Senate confirmed Indian treaties actually existed pre-1924 Citizenship) regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” so often touted by politicians and Indian advocates as being legitimate law. And yet, MSM, Presidents and politicians continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make distinguishable the metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.

    And yet, MSM, Presidents and politicians continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make distinguishable the metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.

    The Constitution makes for no provisions for:
    1. Indian sovereign nations. None of the asserted tribes possess any of the attributes of being a ‘sovereign nation:’
    a. No Constitution recognition
    b. No international recognition
    c. No fixed borders
    d. No military
    e. No currency
    f. No postal system
    2. Treaties with its own constituency (Laramie Treaty of 1851 in this instance)
    3. Indian reservations whereby a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” reside exclusively and to the exclusion of all others, on land-with rare exception-that is owned by the People of the United States according to federal documents readily available on-line that notes rights of ‘occupancy and use’ by these distinguished U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” only with the land owned by the People of the United States.
    4. Recognition of ‘Indian citizenship’ asserted by various tribes. There is no international recognition of “Indian citizenship” as there is no ‘nation’ from which citizenship is derived.
    A simple question for politicians and MSM to answer…a question so simple, it is hard:
    “Where is the proclamation ratified by 1/3rd of the voters of the United States that amends the Constitution to make the health, welfare, safety and benefits of a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

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