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Environmentalism Meets Institutional Police Racism At Standing Rock

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The overreaction to activists at standing rock isn’t isolated or instigated simply by the current Dakota Access Pipeline(DAPL) protests.

There has been a long pent up animosity between those who live in the concentrated camps in the hills and North Dakota outside of it. North Dakota is not the whitest state in America but it is a state divided along racial lines. 60% of Native Americans, the largest minority in the state, live on or near a Reservation. Incarceration and unemployment are some of the highest. The poverty of reservation life goes beyond money. Drugs, alcohol, and chronic suicide are part of the reservations daily happenings. In Cannon Ball, the heart of the tribal community, there are shanty rows of government homes, but no grocery store.

many people at the Standing Rock encampment are not surprised by the extreme response of law enforcement against the action, especially with the contempt that Native Americans feel from their white neighbors and particularly from the police.

Conflict and pain are ingrained into the reservation itself. The land of the Standing Rock Sioux was determined by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. When the U.S. government claimed victory 11 years later, following the Great Sioux War, the terms of that treaty were amended. Threatened by starvation, the tribe, under duress, ceded a great deal of Laramie land to the federal government.

What seems like a political flair up is a generations old dormant volcano ready to explode. Police and Developer response isn’t surprising to the people that live there. Violence, especially states instituted violence is old as the reservation itself.

– A perfect example of “Environmental Racism.”

Early on in the development of the DAPL, a route was examined that would extend the pipeline 10 miles north of Bismarck. The company along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the pipeline would be a danger to the city’s water supply. Dakota Access and the Corp decided on a plan that would snake a portion 92 feet under the Missouri River directly under Standing Rock’s main water supply.

The Bismarck route of the pipeline was difficult to stay more than 500 feet or more. That’s when the Corps of Engineers recommended the path of the pipeline traversed the Missouri River underneath land belonging to the Corps, an easement less than half a mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The pipeline is too close to white people but not them injuns.

The Systemic poverty that has gripped this tribe goes beyond a lack of money. It’s hopelessness, homelessness, alcoholism, and chronic suicide and adds environmental racism.

This why people are fighting hard to stop this pipeline, they have taken everything but they won’t take the water.

(Article by Jafari Tishomingo)

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