Standing Rock, like many protests, is one that needs to happen. After reading an article from the LA Times titled "The Protests at Standing Rock are Necessary," this idea is confirmed. The article compared the Malheur militia's protests last year on public land in the Northwest to the protests of the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock to stop the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline in their reservation. Coincidentally, the Bundy family had just received their court hearings the other week and received minimal punishment in comparison to the protestors at Standing Rock. The Bundy family were covered in weapons and ammo and were expressing their rights on public land and were not arrested as brutally as the peaceful protestors in North Dakota. This article examines the principle of white privilege in the world of protests. In comparison, the Bundy family, who nearly took over the state of Oregon, were almost just left alone during their protests while at Standing Rock, the protestors are being bombarded by SWAT level policing. In the Bundy family protest, they were fighting to stop government encroachment on western lands, which was seen as a minimal issue to the government at the time. The Sioux tribe have a concrete issue at hand where money is involved, so they are being faced with all that the US government can throw at them even though they are peacefully protesting. The unequal treatment of these two similar but different protests is mind boggling.
The main issue I have with Standing Rock is that it's not the government's nor the company whose building the pipeline's land to be building on. This event is our generations Trail of Tears if we don't decide to get on the right side of history. The way that this protest is being handled by the government is not alright. Instead of taking the side of the defenseless, the government, including Hillary Clinton, are taking the side of the oil company because it means more energy security. But at what price? I believe energy security is important, however, I believe people's health and prosperity rank higher. By building this pipeline through the Sioux's land, their groundwater is more than likely to become contaminated due to a leak, spill, or explosion. America wants energy security, but lacks the same wants for water security for people of all backgrounds.
These pipelines are not even sustainable. They are temporary routes of destruction. If as a nation we want to decrease our dependence on oil, then maybe we should stop building these pipelines and start creating alternative means of energy. But to do that, we would need large investments from somewhere to start a project like that. The only interest in mind for this pipeline is the interest of the oil company because they are paying for it themselves and they have to pay large fees to the government in the form of taxes and permits. Environmental justice is not evident in this protest because another minority group is being put at risk for a white man's pursuit. The pipeline was proposed to be placed near Bismarck on public land, but was moved to Standing Rock in mind of public interest. But Bismarck is white and the Siouxs are not. So that's why their protest is unsuccessful at the time being. This protest is so important because it is not just an environmental issue, but also a racially-charged political protest.
The sustainability community, including myself, should support the protestors at Standing Rock because of the environmental, social, and medical harms that the pipeline could cause. Promoting environmental justice is also another reason that it needs our support because it is unequal and unjust that just because the Sioux are not white that they should have to give up their right to their land for white men to endanger their lives (again). It's ridiculous that this protest is still going on because I am pretty sure that it is illegal for the oil company to do anything on the Sioux's reservation. Stand up for those at Standing Rock.