- Hiroto Hayashi
At this very moment Standing Rock Sioux Indian tribe is fighting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. This pipeline, running 1,100 miles, comes uncomfortably close to the tribe’s ancestral land and has already bulldozed through ancestral burial grounds spanning generations.
This is unacceptable and a blatant act of ignorance by the Dakota Access company and The Army Corps of Engineers who is accused of not consulting the tribe beforehand. When the tribe sought an injunction, a federal judge denied their request and the pipeline was allowed to continue except in one specific area that carries a large amount of historical value to the tribe. This piece of land is undergoing analysis and further review before it is decide whether or not the Dakota access pipeline is allowed to continue.
Look, forget about oil for a second. Think about the already bloody and unfair treatment of the Native American culture that the U.S. has indirectly supported for many years. They are an underprivileged and undervalued race, and this pipeline is an example of their unfair treatment. The Dakota Access company should understand that the right thing to do would be to find an alternative route around the obstacles it faces. This is a morally conscious decision that while perhaps less cost effective, would mean that the conflicts would be assuaged and the historical significance of these lands rendered safe. It’s simply too easy to bulldoze through the claims of these people where the real difficulty is ignoring their cries for respect.
Those that stand with the Sioux tribe also claim, just like the Keystone pipeline, that the Dakota Access pipeline may have detrimental ramifications to the surrounding environment. The fact that the pipeline will travel through a portion of the Missouri River that stands above the Standing Rock lands means that any leaks could potentially render the tribes drinking water unpotable and toxic. This is a particularly dangerous risk that, should an accident occur, will take away the tribes only source of water, not to mention poisoning the surrounding wildlife and soil. The pipeline is an inherit threat to their livelihood, and it is understandable why they are apprehensive and unsupportive of it.
The media fixates on the fight for African-American rights and people scream “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter,” thus the Native American’s fight is swamped by more “important news.” When was it decided that Native Americans are not part of the other minorities that fight for their rights? When did the U.S. decide to ignore them?
This pipeline is uniting many Native American cultures from around the U.S. and is a test to see if the value of basic human rights is indeed universal. I hope, for the sake of the Sioux tribe, that the remainder of their ancestral lands remains untouched for many years to come.