Native American injustice

Natalie D'Souza, Opinions Editor

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America. The most influential and dominant country in the world. A nation that is based on democratic values of justice and equality. A nation that is currently denying and violating those rights regarding those of the original American people: Native Americans.

The injustice started in 1492, when Christopher Columbus, a recognized national hero, incorrectly labeled these people as “Indians”. Currently, the injustice is still present with company Dakota Access building the Dakota Access crude-oil pipeline over sacred and ancient lands of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

This 1,172 mile pipeline will start from the farthest Northwest corner of North Dakota, travel through two other states, and end in southern Illinois. It will be able to transport around 500,000 gallons of oil a day and is expected to make $156 million in sales and income taxes, but it will take around $38 billion to construct this pipeline.

The pipeline will have to cross through the ancient burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. However, the tribe was never consulted.Thus, the tribe is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its approval of the pipeline project without an environmental review or consulting the tribe on the project.

The tribe is also fighting for their right of water, a right that may be in jeopardy because the pipeline is being built directly under the Missouri River which is the major source of water for the tribe. In an interview with Propublica, an investigative journalist website, Tony Iallonardo of the National Wildlife Federation said that “it’s inevitable that as pipelines age, as they are exposed to the elements, eventually they are going to spill. They’re ticking time bombs.”

With the hazards of pipelines and the unlawful construction, which has already started, on sacred burial sites, why isn’t the government or our country’s authority figures taking action? Or stopping the dog or pepper spray attacks sent by the Dakota Access company against the protestors?

President Obama still hasn’t fully addressed the problem and hasn’t proposed a plan to fix it, neither of the Presidential Candidates have brought attention to the issue, and even the court system of North Dakota has denied an injunction proposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Only the Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein has discussed the problem, even visiting the tribe and site of construction. The result was a warrant for her arrest on misdemeanor charges.

According to the United States Department of the Interior, the Federal Indian Trust Responsibility is an “obligation on the part of the United States to protect tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources”. And yet, none of our authoritative figures in this country are addressing the issue nor are they defending the constitutional rights the Native Americans have over their land.

The American people and government can’t just keep pushing Native Americans under the rug or into their tiny corner of the reservations we “granted” them. Everyone that lives on American soil deserves the same amount of respect from the government and the same rights.

We can’t ignore this issue. More than 200 other Native American tribes have declared their support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and even major Hollywood names like Leonardo DiCaprio and Shailene Woodley traveled to the site to help.     

You can help the cause by sending food and supplies to the hundred of people currently in camped at the tribe’s reservation, or by donating to the cause. Most importantly, don’t be ignorant to the issues that Native American’s face, they live here, too.