Ours is a time of environmental turmoil, much of which is perpetuated by industries which prioritize the maximization of profit over the health of the people. A timely example of this is the access to safe and clean drinking water, one of the most basic human rights there is. From lead in Flint’s Taps to the corporate privatization of water, it is becoming more and more clear that corporate and industrial interest is trumping the right of the people to freely drink safe water. Oklahoma has experienced another unusual earthquake that was felt in six surrounding states and destroyed six buildings on the Pawnee nation. Some scientists believe this is due to the earth-poisoning and earth-depleting effects of fracking. On top of this, a pipeline in New Mexcio recently exploded,has blown up, causing ten tragic, preventable deaths including five young children. It is becoming obvious that dirty industry seriously does not care about the harm caused to the planet and to us all.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with nearly 90 other sovereign, tribal nations from all directions engaging in direct action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, have been setting a global example of what it means to be warriors for the water, for our planet, and for the next generation, as well as continuing the long legacy of Indigenous peoples advocating for environmental and tribal rights. Ancient burial grounds and sacred sites which were not located on the pipeline construction site have been bulldozed last weekend by DAPL construction workers in an act of horrific psychological and spiritual warfare. Six protesters were bitten by attack dogs and several more pepper sprayed.We must see our bodies and our spirits as inseparable from the beautiful earth we come from, and live on, and ultimately die on. We must protect the water and the land like it’s our own life, because it is our life.
Corporate interests would like to have the public believe that the Sacred Stones camp is a reactionary and backwards movement opposed to development for the sake of opposing development. They claim that their pipelines are safe, and don’t seem to care in the slightest that their pipeline would snake in and out of tribal land, disregarding the rights of a sovereign nation to decide what is developed and built on their land. They utilize a malicious double-speak when they claim that those who put their bodies on the line defending land and water are “eco-terrorists”, when it is indeed dirty industry that terrorizes our vulnerable ecosystems.
But the fact of the matter is that a nation that willfully poisons land, water, and bodies for the sake of making a buck is a nation far from freedom. If civilization means poisoning with dirty oil the lifeblood of Native peoples, truthfully the lifeblood of us all, then it is civilization that is truly barbaric. The Dakota Access Pipeline joins the Flint Water Crisis and other environmental disasters in the canon of environmental racism—that is, the purposeful polluting and evacuating of toxic wastes into neighborhoods of color and tribal lands in order to cut industry costs. Take a look at the lingering, carcinogenic effects of Uranium mining for atomic weapons in the Navajo nation—27% of Navajo participants in an ecological survey were found to have high levels of Uranium in their urine samples, directly from drinking the available tap water.
Dirty industry purposefully introduces deadly toxins into indigenous bodies, bodies of color, young bodies and the bodies of the elderly, in order to line its pockets. This must stop, immediately. You can’t drink oil. You can’t eat uranium. We are all valuable and deserve the basic right of physical health unimpeded by so-called “development.”
The Sacred Stones camp is also the largest gathering of Native American tribal nations in the past 100 years, and is the first convergence of the seven bands of the Sioux since the Battle of Little Bighorn. The water protectors in Cannonball, North Dakota have created a turning point in history, and hopefully in the decades to come we will be looking back at this movement as a pivotal point in the rapidly-changing landscape of environmental and tribal policy. This is certainly a movement to follow closely as it keeps on growing—as of now, there are camps extending down into Iowa, along the pipeline’s proposed path, and the movement is only growing despite the pipeline’s efforts to destroy the moral of our water protectors.
More Radical Reads: 7 Ways ‘Honoring’ Other Cultures Is Really Cultural Appropriation
The Sacred Stones and Red Warrior camp must be supported by all those invested in eradicating body terrorism. Thankfully, the increased visibility of Native American and Indigenous tribal action against corporate polluters is opening up eyes across the globe to the environmental injustices perpetuated by United States corporate-interest legislation.
There are many ways to support the Standing Rock tribe and other Native-led movements against the Dakota Access Pipeline, including:
Contributing to the visibility of the movement by sharing articles and stories on social media platforms.
Native American and Indigenous struggles and successes experience notoriously low visibility in the mainstream media, but due to the viral nature of resistance movements in this era, this movement has experienced monumental visibility from even the most mainstream news sources. Contribute by sharing not only the struggles of the camp to stop this damn pipeline, but also by sharing the successes and joys that are being experienced there on the Sacred Stone camp’s facebook page, where they post movement updates, stories from water warriors of why they defend the water, as well as some kick-ass art created by inspired Natives responding to the #NoDAPL movement.
Call, email, or write North Dakota Governor Dalrymple at 701-328-2200 and demand that the pipeline’s construction is immediately ceased until a fair environmental risk assessment is completed and not by an organization that proves to benefit from the pipeline’s construction, as well as demand that the camp’s legal rights to water and food on the site be upheld.
As of now, the Sacred Stones camp is requesting for the people with means to do so to focus more on sending the camp money so they can start pooling donations to prep for the winter, since they plan to continue the movement until the pipeline stops. However, needs are ever-changing, so keep a close eye on what the camps are specifically requesting. Also keep an eye out in your community for those who are planning to make the trip to the camps – you can always send a box of donations with them!
Begin the journey to decolonizing your mind by learning more about the history of Native people’s oppressions and successes to help frame this movement as a part of a living historical continuum. The legacy of the U.S.’s abuse of Native American people is a long and atrocious one–it’s up to us to ensure that our ancestor’s stories aren’t forgotten. 5. Encourage your schools and businesses to divest from Big Oil-advocate for the U.S. gov to invest more in the bounty of petroleum-alternatives
If you are currently attending college, look into encouraging your campus to divest from fossil fuels and dirty industry, since many colleges and universities have financial investments in such industries. Advocate for biodiversity and native plants in your community’s parks and gardens. Support movements to switch to more sustainable sources of energy. Resist and protest the corporate practice of dumping toxic wastes in Indigenous communities and communities of color.
Irreparable damage has already been done to our environment. It’s up to us to say no to dirty industry, and yes to the health of our planet, our people, and for the next generations to come.
In order to continue producing high quality content and expanding the message of radical, unapologetic self-love, we need to build a sustainable organization. To meet these efforts, we’re thrilled to share the launch of our #NoBodiesInvisible subscription service. This service will provide our community with access to additional content and rewards for your monthly investment in furthering our radical self-love work.
[Headline Image: A photo of a gathering of people outside protesting the pipeline in North Dakota. They are holding signs that read “water is life,” and “defend the sacred”. Other people are milling about, sitting on the ground and walking. In the background is a white building. Source: Leslie Peterson]