Letter: Dakota Access
Editor’s note: This letter was written before Sunday’s announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers would seek a new route for the pipeline and before President-elect Donald Trump’s team said Monday he would review the project after he takes office.
Not only does the Dakota Access pipeline violate unceded territory under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the company responsible, Transfer Energy Partners, wishes to transport over half a million barrels of crude oil a day beneath the Missouri River. The Army Corps of Engineers has yet to compile a full environmental impact assessment for the ecosystems and millions of citizens downstream, dividing the project instead into many small permits.
The DAPL is an illegal endeavor, sidestepping EPA regulation, violating the promised territory of a sovereign nation, and has been backed by increasingly militant police and private security. Many thousands of people, including U.S. veterans and hundreds of indigenous tribes, have shuttled supplies and stood in peaceful, prayerful solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has responded with attack dogs, chemical weapons, psychological warfare, and lethal use of non-lethal weapons, prompting the United Nations to issue a denouncement.
This movement is representative of a much greater, global narrative. As our fossil fuel dependency sinks us further into desperate means of extraction, indigenous voices around the world remind us of our intimate, interwoven connection to this planet and her well-being. In today’s society we are starkly isolated from the Earth, moving from one artificial sphere to the next. We easily forget that our health, the lives of our children, and all subsequent generations depend directly upon our active stewardship.
Truly, no resource is more sacred than water, and certainly not oil. It is only by severe mental and moral sickness that we would condemn the right to clean drinking water of a First Nation for the profit of a company and an industry that depend upon the careless destruction of our communal environment, our living home.
This is an opportunity to stand behind an essential ideal and to set a new precedence for respect and human dignity as we transition into an uncertain political future. It is a time to place our health, our rights and the futures of our children before the financial gain of the few at the cost of a great many.