Water is life.
Just let that sink in. Our bodies are made of water by more than 50%. We need to consume water in order to live. Clean, fresh water is a human right and so many, many people do not have it-abroad and here in the United States. I think of Flint, Michigan and the horrible injustices done there. I think of Toledo, Ohio and the similar story from a couple years ago. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Country In The World” should be able to provide safe drinking water to its citizens. Once a year, my own water, in the capital-Columbus is unfit for drinking or use because of nitrates.
My hometown is being plagued by fracking sites. When I looked at the fracking plans for the state of Ohio, my heart is just crushed. In the name of progress, we are killing the very earth we need to live. And yes, the pipelines will kill it-in the same way that not being able to drink water will kill human kind.
So Dakota Access.
What is it?
Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil carrying structure being built by Energy Transfer Partners. This is in no way the only pipeline being constructed this year, as you can see from this chart:
You can also check out Pipeline Projects to see what’s been done in the past few years. There are multiple types of pipelines as well-the ones I’ve been looking at a lot are oil and fracking-because those are scariest (at least to me).
Why is it a problem?
This is a problem for a few reasons. First (courtesy of this screen capture)
Here’s an image of the United States and the lines which run below it. Blue lines are gas lines, red lines are hazardous materials.
This is a source of major concern when you think about the amount of water which could be damaged in the event of a spill or explosion. And speaking of:
Other places pipes have caused great concern?
There are plenty of places which give credit to the concern of the DAPL. 2016 Problems lists out all of the explosions, leaks and issues in 2016 in the US. Amongst them are the ones like the Alabama explosion which killed someone. But there are other examples as well. A MAJOR oil pipeline issue occurred this year in Peru, in which the Amazon River looked like this:
All that yellow? You guessed it-oil. 3000 barrels as a matter of fact. And this just shows the river, there was substantial impact to the flora as well. Read more here. One barrel holds 42 gallons of oil, so that is a total of 126000 gallons (476961.885 liters). The Amazon River is the water source for 20 million people (I googled “How many people rely on the Amazon River for water”). That’s a LARGE number of people without water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing and the like.
Who are the water protectors?
The water protectors are the individuals of the Lakota nation (a sovereign collection of indigenous peoples in North America) who are trying to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being put on their land. This group has expanded to many (and I mean MANY) groups of people coming to stand up against this injustice. Tribes from all across the globe, peoples from not only other First Nations, but other religious groups, other ethnicities, other delegations. Water protectors has been applied to those who are against not only the actions of ETP, but against the desecration of the lands which belong to the First Nations, all for the safety and freshness of the water. The water is needed for 15 million people to drink, bathe and perform all of the human necessities. The Missouri RIver also flows into the Mississippi, where another 18 million people get their water. So 33 MILLION people are at risk of losing clean water access in America.
Now, for those of you not in America, or who have not taken a “Native American” class, let me tell you a little about why DAPL is a problem. I know I won’t cover everything, but hopefully, this will give you a little bit of an overview.
When “Manifest Destiny” was coming to an end, and assimilation was proven to be monstrous, the First Nations (indigenous, “Native American”) were treatied off land which would be their “homes”. This happened to just about all of the First Nations, with the understanding that these peoples would be able to govern themselves, their land would be their own and that would be that. DAPL was originally going to go through a majority white neighborhood, but was rerouted into Lakota lands.
The Dakota Access Pipeline went through sacred resting grounds for the ancestors. This is the equivalent to a bulldozer plowing through Arlington National Cemetery so that oil can be moved around the country. Not only that, but there is brutal force being employed against the water protectors.
What happened over Thanksgiving?
Over Thanksgiving (a holiday celebrated in remembrance of a time when colonists stole land and killed members of the First Nations in order to expand the country of America-then Colony of Britain/France/Spain) a particularly heinous event occurred. Although reported as a defense against fires started by the water protectors and violence, Morton County PD enacted several crimes against the people. Now, Morton CPD has been working FOR DAPL, in the sense that they are not protecting the people, but the DAPL workers and equipment.
So these officers used water cannons to spray down the water protectors. It’s below freezing in the Dakotas (about 28* at the time) and there is no active heat source. Hypothermia became a very serious condition immediately.On top of this, mace was used, sound cannons and tear gas were also employed.
The officers also used rubber bullets shot directly at the individuals. Contrary to the thought the name implies, rubber bullets are actually solid metal rounds coated in a thin layer of rubber. A 13 year old girl was shot in the head with one and this is not the first time someone has been shot point blank instead of being hit because the bullet bounced (as is how they’re intended to be used). But perhaps the most discouraging piece of news is that of a 21 year old New Yorker who was bringing water to the water protectors and was hit in the arm by a concussion grenade.
The fires were started by Morton CPD, in case you were wondering. The full story can be seen here however: WARNING-graphic picture. They included a picture of the poor woman’s (Sophia Wilansky) arm-a fact which I didn’t know the first time I looked at the article. It’s since been amputated (I think-I can’t find any information since).
What can “we” do?
If you’d like to provide encouragement to Sophia, here is the only address I could find for getting her cards in the hospital. I do not know if she is still there, but I cannot imagine she isn’t.
HCMC, c/o Sophia Walanski, 701 Park Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55415
If you want to donate to her medical expenses: Do so here.
If you choose to make the trip to Cannonball, make sure you are self-sufficient. There is a group of peaceful veterans going on December 4th (Read about that here.) There also seems to be a movement trying to get the water protectors removed (article 1 and article 2) which I’m not entirely sure is legal.
You can also close out your accounts to the banks who are funding the pipeline. This article might be helpful in determining next steps if that is how you can help.
You can also call your government officials and let them know not to send your police and guard members to Cannonball. Here in Ohio, we raised a petition and our officers were brought back. It can work.
You can also hold supply drives for the water protectors. They have Amazon wishlists and the like.
The request of the water protectors is simple-in all you do, do so in peace. Pray. Be peaceful. Protect the water.
I know that religion can seem like a barrier between a lot of people, but there are many things that I think can bring us all together-and water is one of them.
So if you are Christian, pray. If you are Jewish, pray. If you are Muslim, pray. If you are pagan, pray. Lift your voice to the universe.
And then go out and live your peaceful life, protecting the earth. It’s the only one we have and if we don’t protect her, we won’t last long when she’s gone.
(This picture belongs to Urban Native Era.)