When a security company set dogs on people challenging bulldozers in North Dakota on Sept. 3, the scalding images recalled similar violence against civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. And just as that Birmingham struggle was a defining moment, so too is the struggle for water and sovereignty by the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of supporters, including nearly 300 Indian nations.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a project of Energy Transfer Partners that would bring fracked crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It is disrupting sacred sites and would run under the main source of water for the Sioux. Of course, the corporation claims there is no danger — but another route was nixed because of concerns that a leak might pollute the water supply of the state capital.
This battle is bound up inseparably with the emergency need to end dependence on fossil fuels. The Standing Rock Sioux are in the vanguard of the fight for a planet that is livable for humanity and sustainable for generations to come — just as Native peoples have been historically.
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