Fossil fuels have been the driving force of America -and the world alike- for the last couple of hundred years. When it comes to finance, fossil fuels have also been a source of great wealth. So much so, that we -as a society- have opted for the continued impediments on our environment rather than really looking at alternative sources of energy as a nation.
But, this story doesn’t begin with fossil fuels. This story begins a few hundred years earlier. When the Europeans first happened upon the shores of the “New Land” with their sense of entitlement to the land they were now on and their lack of understanding that the land wasn’t theirs to take. To help cover up the theft in the History books, we developed fairytales and holiday stories that made it seem as if was all well in North America a few hundred years ago. Those who go on from the grade school lies to actually study History know a much different “tone” for that story though. True History teaches of the atrocities that were suffered by the indigenous people. Taking them from a free and ancient society and restricting their rights while forcing them to live under government rule in chiseled out portions of their homelands.
I have a degree in History. I’ve always been fascinated with the hidden truths in the timeline of existence. I’ve also been dumbfounded by the lack of Logic throughout the timeline, given society’s inquisitive minds during the major years of Mathematic and Scientific discovery. I was part of a conversation in a History class while in college, that went like this:
Student – “Well, you would expect the colonists to defend themselves when the Natives are attacking them.”
Me – “So, you think the Natives were wrong in attacking the colonists? How would you feel if in the middle of the night someone moved an RV into your backyard and was like, ‘Well. I live here now. At least until I get them out of the house’?”
Logic, people. Logic isn’t like most other things in the timeline, things that stay consistent over time. No. Logic SKIPS through the timeline. Much like you would skip a rock across water. Logic first appeared way back when early ancestors of the human race discovered fire. And then burnt himself. The first logical decision ever made – in my opinion – was, “Do not touch fire.” Since then, there have been small flutters of Logic, but nothing consistent. So, why stop now?
After removing native people from their homelands and resettling them in much, much smaller areas, the government told them another lie. “So, this is your land. I mean, we own it, but it’s yours to do with as you please. We won’t bother you or the land without your permission. Ever.” Sounds great, right?
Fast forward a few hundred years. Bakken, North Dakota.
Oil company Energy Transfer has an idea. Move 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day, from Bakken, North Dakota, through a pipeline, 1,100 miles away to Patoka, Illinois. Originally, the pipeline was routed to cross the Missouri River just North of Bismarck, North Dakota. However, the people of Bismarck, realizing the potential hazards to their water supply, said, “Absolutely not.” So the pipeline was rerouted. Only this time, the route ran straight through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation. One of the lands the government said they wouldn’t disturb without the consent of the native people. And here we are, in 2016.
The people of Standing Rock have taken up a fight to protect their water supply. I say fight because, unlike the good people of Bismarck, the people of Standing Rock had no say and the Dakota Access Pipeline is being forced upon them. But the people of Standing Rock are pushing back, albeit peacefully. So not “pushing” but more like “obstructing.” The authoritarian occupation’s response has so far been to release dogs on peacefull protesters, fire rubber bullets and throw gas and stun grenades into crowds and spray protesters down with fire hoses in below freezing temperatures. All because the government has said, “Well, it’s our land. And if we want to grant an easement to the billion dollar corporation that’s paying for most of our re-election campaigns, we can. And will.” If you listen closely, you can hear Logic skipping the timeline again.
Where’s the Logic? The logic of the matter is that a pipeline is absolutely the “safest” way to transport the oil. I say “safest” because that is not an absolute. Let’s face, everything manmade breaks down. A pipeline is not immune from that. Check valves go bad, cleanouts blow out, seals leak and not all welds are 100% unbreakable given the right conditions. According to the NTSB, there have been 120 pipeline accidents since 1969. Not all were environmental disasters. But not all were leaky seals.
The Logic doesn’t stop there. Logic should be utilized when looking at an accident such as the pipeline accident in Minnesota in 2002. Given that accident, Logic should be applied to, I don’t know, say, “We should really keep these pipelines away from water supplies.” But, no. Because, unfortunately, Greed crushes Logic in this country.
And, finally, Logic should be used when looking at the people of Standing Rock. The only reply the government should have is, “We are very sorry for the intrusion and we will now kindly leave because you have suffered enough over our greed.” That’s the logical thing to do. But, this America. Where Donald Trump was recently elected President. I only bring him up, because he is one of the investors in the project. And a little dash of conflict of interest sprinkled right on top. How could he be objective to decide on this? His wallet or the people?
Where will the United States government end up in the History books on this? Known forever as the authoritarian government that violently answered the peoples’ peaceful demands to the right to clean water? Or will they step in and put an end to the atrocities at Standing Rock?
Admitedly, I grazed over a lot of facts, in writing this opinion piece, but I believe the core message was more essential than a total background of US – Native American relations.If applied to daily life, the core message in this piece will alter your life and the lives of those around you for the betterment of society.