What Does Dakota Access Pipeline Tell Us About Broader Issues Facing Indigenous Communities?

United Church of Christ, Flickr

Lost in much of media coverage of the presidential campaign this year has been a massive protest by Native American Sioux tribes in the middle part of the country. The protest has turned into somewhat of a standoff between tribal members and law enforcement officials.

The tribes and their supporters are trying to stop the construction of an oil pipeline that would run under a river that supplies drinking water to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

The original plan for the pipeline was scrapped because it threatened the drinking water of a predominantly white town nearby, and the pipeline was rerouted toward Standing Rock.

Antonia Gonzales of the National Native News says leaders of the tribes that have banded together at Standing Rock expect to speak with and be heard by leaders in the United States government.

What you’ll hear from tribal leaders is… tribes have unique government-to-government obligations,” says Gonzales. “What leaders want is true consultation… to have it with people making these types of decisions.”

The people of Standing Rock are being heard by some high-power officials, such as Bernie Sanders, and the voices from Standing Rock are being heard at the White House as well.

Our ancestors really fought to make sure generations are taken care of, and even today that’s a key value among native people,” says Gonzales. But, she adds, history has shown the government-to-government relationship is fragile and promises are often broken.

To hear more from Gonzales on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

National Native News

Antonia Gonzales

Image credit: United Church of Christ, Flickr

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