Jim Yellowhawk’s original artwork, entitled “Why” took center stage at an event at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota, with t-shirts and earrings based on it for sale as fund raisers to bring awareness and education of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Image courtesy Jim Yellow Hawk

Native Sun News Today: Pipeline opponents and advocates warn of dangers of man camps

Native women’s societies join forces against man camps
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today Contributing Editor

RAPID CITY – Keystone XL Pipeline opponents joined forces on February 24 with advocates of justice for missing and murdered indigenous women. Launching the WHY Campaign here, they forged an alliance to rally against man camps on the proposed tar-sands crude-oil pipeline route through Lakota Territory.

“We are going to partner with other organizations on the issue of man-camp awareness,” said Lily Mendoza, a leader in the Red Ribbon Dress Society of the Black Hills. She explained that the camps would be temporary settlements for thousands of transient male pipeline construction workers.

If the pipeline permit application obtains federal approval, “native women and families will be directly impacted by three main camps, which are proposed to house 1,000 workers each,” she told a full-house at the Journey Museum event for the Why Campaign, which promotes gender equality in recognition of both victims and survivors of violent crime.

Jim Yellowhawk’s original artwork, entitled “Why” took center stage, with t-shirts and earrings based on it for sale as fund raisers.

350.org: The Promise to Protect Tour

The camps in South Dakota would be located near the pipeline path, which skirts her Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation and Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation, as it snakes into the state from Montana on the northwest and Nebraska on the southeast to run through the counties of Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.

The pipeline permit application states that the man camps would be about 80 acres each, providing housing, food, water and sewerage to as many as 1,400 residents concentrated in them for a two-year period.

The Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. already has built the estimated $8-million private infrastructure project all the way north to Nebraska from the Texas Gulf of Mexico, where it would ship diluted tar-sands, or bitumen (dilbit) drilled from the Athabascan ancestral lands of Alberta Province for refining and export.

Only the Lakota Territory section remains to be built, after a number of lawsuits to block the permit gained traction in federal court, stalling construction and sending the U.S. State Department back to undertake a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

In addition to decrying the specter of boomtown social milieu, adversaries cite the pipeline route’s alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution and treaty law, the threat of water and soil contamination from spills, and the air pollution created by drilling and burning the fuel.

With TransCanada’s most recent projection for construction startup still set for 2019, The Action Network now is coordinating pipeline rivals through a Promise to Protect Training Tour. The network is signing up people to “commit to traveling to the pipeline route to engage in peaceful, creative resistance to Keystone XL when the call is put out by frontline communities to help stop this Black Snake,” it says.

To date, trainings are scheduled in Miami, Seattle and San Francisco to mobilize “nonviolent but resolute displays of our continued opposition to a project that endangers us all.”

In pointing a finger at the man camps’ record elsewhere, Mendoza observed that Indian women “are already two times more likely to be sexually assaulted” than those of other races.


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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