The controversy of the Dakota Access Pipeline has spread like wild fire throughout the country. Many are questioning the ethical dilemmas this project is causing. ENMU is no exception.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is an approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline running from North Dakota to Illinois. The project was set to be completed before the end of 2016. This hope hit a speed bump when members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe decided to take a stand.
The $3.2 billion pipeline was originally going to run through parts of the tribe’s sacred land. The pipeline route also appears to run through the Missouri River, which is where the Standing Rock Sioux receive the majority of their water. The tribal leaders were not consulted in the decision to build. The land beneath the pipeline belongs to the Sioux peoples by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.
ENMU student Deshaun Masawiestewa, a member of the Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblo tribes, expressed how the disconcert for the Native Americans up north hit close to home for him.
“In order to get through tribal lands, it is required to first go through the tribal government,” said Masawiestewa. “Obviously, that never happened because they are doing it anyway. Sacred land should not be messed with. That’s why there are so many precautions.”
The protest of the Native Americans turned violent when members of the hired security released dogs and pepper spray into the protests.
“Peaceful protest is what the Native Americas are doing,” said Masawiestewa. “[The government] is willing to hurt and shoot Native Americans who haven’t been doing anything wrong. They are willing to hurt Natives with dogs, with the National Guard and that is not right. That is completely disrespectful.”
Other Eastern students expressed their grievance concerning the events.
“We signed a treaty,” said Brant Freeman, the former Director of Native American Affairs. “That is their land. However, when it comes to a business, they are willing to screw over people just so they can make a profit.”
“Colin Kaepernick kneels for the national anthem. Many people were upset because they do not believing that the oppression of minorities is still prevalent in this country. This is a perfect example as to why he knelt. This is happening now,” said senior Mikayla Burford.
The leading company of the Dakota pipeline did reply to the accusations that have been made against the company.
“I am confident that as long as the government ultimately decides the fate of the project based on science and engineering, the Dakota Access Pipeline will become operational,” said Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren in a memo. “So we will continue to obey the rules and trust the process.”
The Obama administration has stopped construction on all federal land for now. However, many students at Eastern believe that this is simply a small battle in a much larger war for justice for not just the Native Americans, but for all minorities in the United States.
“So many treaties have been broken and (the Dakota Access Pipeline) is hard evidence that we still do,” said Burford. “The government is still willing to dance around the laws that they said they would honor.
Corporations are still more interested in their own self-gain. This should not have been the case if they had honored the laws. It is just proof that this country has a lot to work on.”
“[Native Americans] are just wanting to have our rights respected and our water to be protected,” said Masawiestewa. “We just want our land [to not be] messed with. I want to give a shout out to other minorities to stay strong. We will all eventually be treated with respect. I do not care how long it will take. We can be peaceful.”