Sep 19, 2016
Back in April, a small group of Standing Rock Sioux set up a protest camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to try to stop construction of a massive oil pipeline project that would run next to their land.
Like many tribes, the Standing Rock Sioux have already been pushed onto marginal land, into an impoverished situation. To make matters worse, fifty years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the Standing Rock Sioux and members of other tribes out of their homes when it built dams on the Missouri River. Now, the proposed pipeline runs through a burial ground, and right next to the tribe’s water source. The protesters say that it puts their only water supply at risk.
Of course, the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer, is concerned about one thing only – getting its money out of this 3.7 billion-dollar project. When protesters disrupted construction, the company sued the protesters. Then they sent in private security forces with dogs that attacked people trying to block construction.
American Indians from 280 different tribes have joined the protest camp, and dozens of tribes have officially supported the protesters. The camp now has several thousand people.
But for the corporations and the U.S. government that serves them, the wishes of the people directly involved have no standing. They didn’t in the 1800s, not in the 1900s, and not today. U.S. policy toward Native Americans has been one long history of violent theft.