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Genocide and broken treaties: Why you should care about the Dakota Access Pipeline

Police presence at Dakota Access Pipeline (Photo Source: Twitter/ CECHR ‏@CECHR_UoD 5h)

Police presence at Dakota Access Pipeline (Photo Source: Twitter/ CECHR ‏@CECHR_UoD 5h)

For the past few months, Native American activists have been engaged in a tense standoff due to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. At issue is the destruction of Native American sacred sites including burial grounds for the Sioux people. Mainstream media has been slow to fully make the public aware of the situation.

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters (Photo Source: Twitter/ araceli cruz ‏@chelipj)

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters (Photo Source: Twitter/ araceli cruz ‏@chelipj)

Near Bismarck, North Dakota, protestors have been mauled by private security dogs and have endured continuous oppression by law enforcement on behalf of corporate “Big Oil” interests. Yesterday, at least 147 arrests were made after the protests took another violent turn. During the day’s incidents, a person was shot in the hand, construction equipment was burned and gasoline bombs thrown by the crowd. Police on the scene responded by firing beanbag rounds, using pepper spray and high-frequency sound against the crowd in an attempt at dispersal. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has set up a protest site of teepees and tents on land that belongs to them dating back to the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Police moved on the encampment, which is private land sold to developers of the pipeline.

Despite treaties made in good faith with the US government, Native American tribes have been denied justice under the law. It is estimated that the US government has broken over 500 treaties made with Native American peoples in its conquest for land and resources.

The issue has become a celebrity cause with Hollywood activists siding with the protestors. The activists even got the support of Civil Rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to the protest site and spoke on their behalf. There is also significant environmental concern over the 1,172-mile pipeline over possible contamination due to pipeline leakage and greenhouse emission. The pipeline will be cross four states as it brings oil from North Dakota to Illinois for transportation to East and Gulf Coast refineries.