Environment | Opinion

Brandon Ecoffey: The Horse Nations prepare for battle over pipeline






Police officers stand guard at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site near Cannonball, North Dakota. Photo courtesy Arlo Iron Cloud

The Oceti Sakowin “Horse Nations” Prepare For Battle
A note from the editor’s desk
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor
lakotacountrytimes.com

For many Americans the fact that the poorest people in the United States have promised to lay their lives down to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is a bewildering experience. The shock that comes along with the realization that the Oceti Sakowin have come together once again as a united front against one of this country’s most powerful lobbies should come as no surprise for we have been fighting big industry since the arrival of colonial powers in the western hemisphere.

Native people of this country have both experienced and resisted the will of corporations for the entirety of our shared history. We saw the devastation that came with the early fur trade that began with beaver pelts that were eventually replaced by buffalo robes. We witnessed the atrocities that accompanied the powerful cotton lobby and their thirst for slave labor and cheap lands. We foresaw the arrival of settlers in the heart of Lakota Country, who came to take gold from our most sacred lands. Today, the “Horse Nations” are prepared for yet another battle against corporate powers and their allies in the United States Congress.

Most Americans have been taught to believe that the federal government and our elected officials have been put in place to protect our freedoms and way of life. For Native people the truth is the opposite. Since the inception of this republic the policies drafted regarding us have been crafted to take from us our culture or the resources we live on. For these reasons we are conditioned to question all that is offered us by both the government and big oil.

There are two promises that have been made by the oil industry that have proven to be categorically false. The first being that improved technology will prevent spills. Since man first decided to ship fossil fuels through pipelines there has been consistent and proven examples that they will one-day leak. It is also true that oil shipped from the Canadian Tar Sands is of a quality that breaks down the internal lining of a pipeline faster than other forms. Canadian Tar Sands oil is nothing like the flowing black oil that you see being produced in places like Saudi Arabia.

The substance that would be shipped from Canada across treaty lands to refineries prior to being exported to places like China is similar in consistency to peanut butter. A study from the National Academy of Sciences looked at the impacts of diluted bitumen leaked into the environment and found that tar sands diluted bitumen when spilled into water sinks. Current cleanup technology is designed to have clean up oil spills where the substance would float on the surface of water. This same panel noted that cleanup would be nearly impossible with today’s current technology.


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The second lie being told and repeated as an argument in favor of the construction is that the project would add thousands of jobs to the market. It is true that temporary construction jobs would be made available to laborers who would flock to this part of the country, but once completed these jobs will dry up as the oil companies have already bragged about their state of the art computerized monitoring system. A computer will maintain the pipeline, not people. We can look across the globe for examples of oil companies developing untouched lands by promising cheap labor. Nigeria is a prime example as big oil monopolized both lands and product prior to leaving locals with nothing.

In today’s society the interests of the everyday American coincide with that of Native people as we resist the expanding power of corporate American into our daily lives. So many have asked when the time will come when the common people will stand up to these powers. That day has arrived as the people of the Oceti Sakowin mounted their horses and have agreed to meet the enemy just outside of Cannonball, North Dakota.

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