The completion of the Dakota pipeline marks another sad chapter in America’s history. If we listen closely to the pipeline and the events around it, we can learn a great deal about our government and Donald Trump.
The pipeline builder was Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based energy company. They built an 1100-mile pipeline to move crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. They estimated it would move nearly a half million barrels of crude oil a day. The company said no damage would be done to surrounding water sources or lands.
The pipeline was opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux, whose land is only about a half mile away from the pipeline. The tribe gets their water from a reservoir off the Missouri River along the pipeline route.
When the tribe sued to stop the pipeline they said, “The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely on the Missouri River for water. They also claimed construction would destroy burial grounds that are “of enormous cultural importance to the tribe.” How would we like for some company to build a large pipeline across our family cemetery?
The pipeline says, “America’s new president Donald Trump is not an honorable man.” Honorable men keep their word and they don’t lie. He promised the country he would keep his business interests and his work as president separate, implying that he would not use the office of the president for personal gain. All the while, he was a $100 million investor and partner with the pipeline developers and stands to make several million dollars on the deal.
One of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order which removed all obstacles to the pipeline’s completion. No wonder he smiled while holding up the signed executive order for photographers.
The pipeline says, “When it comes to big money, people don’t matter much.” There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, who came to protest the pipeline. On one Wednesday, over 1.6 million had checked in via Facebook to show their support.
Protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux were joined by many other tribes and many non-Native American friends. Many solidarity demonstrations were held throughout the world. High profile supporters included Senator Bernie Sanders, actor Mark Ruffro, and actress Shailene Woodley. Reporter Amy Goodman and documentary filmmaker Dia Schosberg were arrested for documenting the demonstrations. People showed who and what they supported but in the end, it didn’t matter much.
The pipeline says, “The people had good reasons to demonstrate.” There have been a rising number of pipeline accidents in recent years. Doug Hayes, an attorney at the Sierra Club said, “These are the types of concerns the tribes have, and they’re frankly very well-founded. That’s why the pipeline’s original route which passed near Bismarck, the state’s capital, was changed.
North Dakota officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek, about 150 miles from the Dakota Access pipeline protest camps on December 5, 2017. True Cos operates at least three pipeline companies in three states. According to their reports submitted to the federal government, they have had 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons, most of which have never been recovered.
It is commendable that so many people stood up for our native American friends for clean water, and a clean environment. Their courage cost them. They were attacked by police dogs, maced, and even jailed. They were forced to camp outdoors for weeks in bitter cold, snowy weather. But their suffering was not in vain. They made their point. They stood for the right. Our hope and prayer should be for more like them.