Jacqueline Keeler: Keystone fight is about more than a pipeline

Our Pipeline Will Always Fight Yours. Photo by Wioweya Najin Win / Facebook

Jacqueline Keeler explains the fight against the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline:
Last year, I saw a banner at a rally that said, “Our Pipeline Will Always Fight Yours” above an image of a line of Dakota/Lakota people in dark silhouette, identifiable by the feathers attached to their hair, some in braids, some not, and all with the canunpa, the sacred pipe, over their chests with pipestone clearly painted in red. The vigil was one of many held all over the country that night and drew about 200 people to downtown Portland’s Terry Schrunk Plaza.

I speak as the daughter of an Ihanktonwan Dakota (Yankton Sioux) family—a tiyospaye as we say in Dakota, and I address President Obama as a relative, as someone who has been welcomed by the Lakota people of Standing Rock into their hearts. This proposed pipeline that would extend across the state of South Dakota being built by a Canadian corporation, TransCanada, threatens most of the Oceti Sakowin’s (Lakota/Dakota nation) water supplies as it runs over the Ogallala Aquifer and near the Missouri River.

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest aquifers in the United States and provides the equivalent of 14 Colorado Rivers of groundwater for agriculture and drinking water throughout the Great Plains. The danger of the Keystone XL pipeline is a real one. In the first six months of operation, it leaked 14 times and the heavy bitumen tar-based oil is particularly difficult to clean up. Oil spills could endanger the source of water for an area that produces one-fourth of the country’s agricultural output and brings in about $20 billion annually.

Farmers and tribes have been asking the government to consider the value of the Ogallala aquifer versus that of a pipeline owned by a foreign company with limited financial gains for those whose lands it will traverse. TransCanada also has a very poor record of cleanup, and the costs and harm caused will mostly likely financially burden local communities.

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Jacqueline Keeler: The Sacred Pipes Will Defeat the Keystone Pipeline (Indian Country Today 1/21)