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The Student News Site of Buena Vista University

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#noDAPL

%23noDAPL

Angus Pollock | Contributing Writer

There is a 36” diameter oil pipeline being constructed right this very minute less than one mile from my front door.  With this Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) comes a host of conditions. Pipeline workers from Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and more; easement purchases and eminent domain takeovers all across my neighbors’ fields; a small economic boost to our community (however temporary it may be); and eventually up to 570,000 barrels of crude pumping through its veins by the end of the year if all stays on track. This is certainly not the first pipeline to come across this state, nor is it likely to be the last, but it is certainly the largest in impact in a long while to cross our fields.

We have used oil as an energy source for a very long time in this country, and I do not doubt it has been a source of great boon to our nation in many ways.  However, we have done a lot of things in this country, great and small, that have boosted us as a nation and as an industrial power, not all of them have been great or sustainable, and every single one has come at a cost of some kind or another. In the case of this pipeline, our farmers have lost some of their lands to this endeavor, and an entire marginalized people stand to lose their culture and what little security we have left them.

The Great Sioux Tribe is also a nation divided within our nation. We, as a People, have taken from them for nearly 500 years and we continue to do so with projects like this pipeline. The Sioux have not gathered in this manner for over 100 years. They have been a conquered and divided people for well over a century, thanks to our “progress” as a nation. Now, 36” of pipeline threaten what little we have left them.

There are several ways to “justify” this, but in the end, it comes down to resources and money; as it always has. We entered this country like a plague, and swarmed over it and its inhabitants as if we were the first to arrive.  We developed a narrative that depicted us as saviors and conquerors and brought with us slavery, famine, disease and war. We took over more and more land and conquered more and more “savages” until there was nothing left for them to do but acquiesce. We then placed them in reservations which grew smaller and smaller with every acre of new resource we found. We broke treaty after treaty over ounces of gold and left the First People with nothing but barren wasteland to live on. Now, 150 years after Wounded Knee, our people are trying to take yet another chunk from a people so impoverished that they have an 80%+ unemployment rate, and a suicide rate to rival the most marginalized of our communities. This time, we come in the name of black gold: oil. We come in the name of the Black Snake, as the Sioux call it.

Indigenous people were here long before the White Man came, and their stories are accurate: there was plenty of game, plenty of clean water, and plenty of land. We came across the land like a swarm, we stole the trees, we stole the game, we stole the land and left nothing of value until we discovered what was inside of the land. Now we want that too.

The Sioux will not benefit from this oil pipeline. Our own farmers will not benefit outside of what short monetary gain they received for their easements. Our community will not benefit from a host of new jobs, though it will rake in some profits from our visiting workers from Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. What we will be left with is a 36” time bomb that will fail at some point, as they all seem to do. Infrastructure is infrastructure, and as infrastructure is wont to do, it will age, it will deplete, and eventually it will expire and fail.  Our cherished Iowa soil and waterways are in danger of that failure.

With an entire map full of already existing pipelines, you may ask what is the difference? The difference is, we know better now. We have the gift of hindsight and the gift of being a technologically advanced civilization.  We also have the gift of alternative energy sources such as wind power that we, as a state, know full well are valuable, renewable, and reliable sources of energy. We are a champion state in the alternative energy field, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting this snake cross our state when we know full well there are better ways.

There are better ways for our soils, our farms, our communities and most of all, for our children. And we do not have to take part in this threat to the Great Sioux Nation that has already been treated so poorly by our country. They are right, water is life, and as Iowans we know too that soil is also life.

This pipeline, no matter how well it lines a few pockets, threatens the very life we cherish as proud Iowans and Americans.  And the Sioux People, as other indigenous people, deserve better treatment than our nation has given them to date. We have a choice and a chance to change all that, and I think we should take it.

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