Thousands of people from over a hundred nations have gathered together in protest. These protesters have been violently assaulted for it, attacked with dogs and maced in a cold, blunt effort to get them the hell out of the way, efforts that in many ways echo the push against other mass civil movements of the past.
But somehow few have heard of what is happening simply because of the fact that these thousands of people are Native Americans and these nations are the nations of the Cree, Lakota, and Sioux along with so many more.
In what is being called the largest protest of Native Americans ever, activists have come together onto the plains of a single region of North Dakota to fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. An oil pipe running through Sioux tribal territory is being constructed by a company called Energy Transfer Partners.
Many are arguing that their actions are illegal and unfair to the people who's land they are bulldozing and constructing through since the natives claim they were not properly consulted with and were totally ignored. Not to mention the potential environmental issues many have with it since there is very legitimate and serious doubt that the correct review of its environmental impact was followed or has been followed on many pipes being put in throughout these regions.
The problem is that the pipeline is not only going through large swaths of various tribal lands but is attempting to cut through sacred burial grounds that are already being desecrated and cross through main sources of water, which many are concerned will become poisoned and polluted.
A camp of tents, massive in size, has grown since last April and has reached a boiling point this last month with a swift rise in protesters. Meanwhile several government departments have gotten involved to try and understand whether the actions being taken are legal.
A district court temporarily halted things in early September to review the construction but has since allowed them to go ahead with the pipeline even though several government departments, including the Department of Interior, are still asking them to stop construction voluntarily largely in disagreement with the ruling. Everyone from Bernie Sanders to presidential nominee of the Greenist Party, Jill Stein has shown up to the area in support. Something like a whole new town has appeared near lake Oahe all in protest of the pipeline.
The "Energy Transfer Partners" have been quiet literally bulldozing over the rights of a massive group of people, it has turned an unpopular oil line into a huge movement for tribal rights which quickly seems to be getting the federal government behind them.
The line is supposed to get oil through several states to make America more "energy independent" but at what cost? People are being arrested and attacked for their blockade against the construction and calls to stop it continue to grow and have now reached the gates of the White House.
I admittedly don't know every solitary detail about how this all has gone down, how this group has gotten approval from four different states to build this pipeline and gotten so far through construction, but I do know that the people who's land they are running it through sure as heck didn't approve it.
The greatest coming together of Native American tribes in all of modern history doesn't just happen for no reason. Perhaps this pipeline is just a starting point for something much bigger, a movement for natives that has begun to stop commercial interests and greed (in this case for oil profits) from continually trampling over their land and rights.
For those of you who don't understand the big deal in this then imagine if tomorrow the Gettysburg burial sight was torn apart to make way for an amusement park, or a national monument was replaced with a nuclear power plant, your local river, pond, lake or your own back yard was crisscrossed with potentially threatening sewage lines from a chemical factory without your people's, town's, or your own consent.
Now imagine this has been going on for a few hundred years, and it becomes miraculous that the behavior of these protesters isn't downright vicious. So lets stop ignoring tribal rights. Lets stop blasting more multi-billion dollar oil-lines through our nation's interior for profit and "for the sake of energy independence" that could clearly be gained in far better projects that don't hurt the environment and the people of the lands they claim to serve.