Native Americans Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline
by Anjali Patel
Native Americans have endured a brutal history as their customs, opinions, and values have been undermined by colonizers. Although many individuals think this disrespect is an obsolete practice, it still prevails in the 21st century. Large businesses and corporations have managed to take away the rights of many Native Americans without much of a consequence. According to ColorLines, The Army Corps of Engineers have the legal right to degrade the quality and purity of rivers for the personal gain of business. Native Americans consider some of these rivers to be a crucial aspect of their homes. The establishment of the Dakota Access Pipeline is completely unfair to those who have maintained many traditional perceptions even in the age of globalization.
I remained unaware of this injustice until I was strolling the streets of Washington D.C. during the beginning of August with my parents and encountered a circle of Native Americans peacefully protesting. I saw people hold up signs with slogans including the word “water.” Since there was a decent number of people crowding around the protestors, I was unable to read the phrases completely. Determined to find out what was going on and the reasoning behind the protest, I searched for more signs and flyers. I finally came across an information booth and was handed a flyer with details about what was going on. By researching online, I later learned from ColorLines that some Native Americans who come from affected tribes have been persistently fighting this inequity. Unfortunately, their efforts did not seem to make much progress or receive national attention when those involved obtained the right to legally take away one of the most basic human rights.
One cannot confront this issue without regarding the alarming rate of Americans who remain apathetic or rant about illegal immigration yet think this implementation is acceptable. These ironic views are extremely prevalent in the nation. The ancestors of many immigrated here illegally and claimed what was not actually theirs. While one obviously cannot travel back in time to correct this immorality, people can take steps to prevent the loss of a demographic’s right. By taking even the smallest initiative such as signing an online petition, writing letters to the government, or even sharing a link to an article explaining the situation on social media can help raise awareness to this overlooked issue.
Beyond the human facet of how the pipeline is amoral, one must consider the environmental side. Rivers are not only important to Native Americans who highly value them but also to the organisms that physically live in the waters. Rivers serve as ecosystems, housing many species. Harmful human intervention will potentially lead to the death of many important forms of life and may even lead to extinction if certain species in those rivers are endangered or rare. As humans, we must take a step back and allow the lifecycles of these species to peacefully manifest without disturbance. It is time the government, businesses, and individual people perceive environmental deterioration as an actual cost when making decisions.