It is not bad enough that we stole this land, a large part of this continent, from them, but then we proceeded to rape and pillage the land. We have destroyed it in the name of money and power. Capitalism as its worst. The consequences are being felt in climate change. The worst part is that we have not only affected ourselves but the original inhabitants of the land – the Native peoples.
Beginning in 2016 the Dakota Access oil pipeline construction began. Part of it would go through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.The damage it would do to the land and the health of those living there was irrefutable. Never mind that drilling on that land went against a signed treaty with the Natives.
Not willing to accept defeat Native communities in the area, largely led by women, began a peaceful protest which aimed at stopping the drilling. These women were bravely fighting for not only themselves but their families, communities and future generations. They were so determined and passionate that they caught the attention of the entire continent. Even politicians like Bernie Sanders and President Obama were on the side of the women.
Here we see the mistreatment of and racism towards Native people. Despite the protesters being unarmed and peaceful the police attacked them with fire hoses, tear gas, dogs, and rubber bullets. Without any retribution or effort to stop them.
It ended up being a four year long battle. These brave women never faltered. When one became tired the next would step up and take on the fight. They were going to hold whoever faced them accountable for yet another attempt by Americans (government or companies) to violate a signed treaty.
The effects of colonialism could not be any plainer. They continue today. From forced sterilization to lack of access to health care to brutal racism to putting children by force into boarding schools or foster families where then encountered abuse of all types, white treatment of Native people is shameful. They are not seen as equals so we walk all over them. Yet somehow they rise again. They continue to fight for their way of life and their land. At times they seem like the last defenders of Mother Earth.
In one of the unfortunately rare instances, director Shannon Kring (television series Secrets of the Ancient Healers) allows Native people to speak for themselves. Tell their story. We see how the pipeline has affected them. Negatively. And amazingly how they are willing to risk their freedom and even their lives to fight for their land. Sacred land. Not only is the pipeline going to go through rivers but also sacred burial lands.
If only we listened to them. If only we had followed their way of living. Even a little bit. Revering nature. We would not find ourselves so reliant on fossil fuels and digging up the land for pipelines further damaging an already vulnerable planet.