I’m not a Native American. My home isn’t going to be destroyed to make someone else’s life easier. I haven’t been fighting for hundreds of years for basic human rights. I’m a high school junior who gets good grades, has a roof over her head, clothes on my back, and hasn’t had any real struggle in my life. But I can’t stay silent when others don’t have a voice.
I have watched countless lives and homes be destroyed by oil. In 2010 I read about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 200 million gallons of crude oil infested the waters of the Gulf. That spill killed 11 people, destroyed more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, and took the lives of over 114,000 innocent animals. The area still hasn’t fully recovered, physically or economically. Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, was already facing extinction without the help of habitat destruction. The spill required countless man hours and cost millions of dollars in damage, not even including lawsuits and legal fees.
The newest problem being the North Dakota Pipeline. It is true that this pipeline will transport one of our much needed resources, crude oil. Although we need the crude oil the pipeline will destroy homes and require the destruction of sacred lands. This isn’t even the first time an attempt to destroy Natives’ lands has been made. In Albuquerque, a highway was built where the Petroglyph National Monument stood. Although right now there is a court appointed pause on construction it won’t last forever. "It's about our rights as native people to this land. It's about our rights to worship. It's about our rights to be able to call a place home, and it's our rights to water," she says (Brady 1).
The same rights every living, breathing being wants have been denied to them for centuries. Since the early 1600s, we have taken their lands and treated them like garbage. The least likely of people are even helping in the protest. Shailene Woodley, an actress, was arrested for trespassing while taking part in the protest. Not to stereotype, but when celebrities are taking action it must be serious.
The most depressing part of all this is that as of now crude oil is worth more than life. It was worth more than 114,000 animals, more than any middle eastern civilian caught in the crossfires of war, and worth more than the lives of a dying race. The pipeline could destroy their only source of water and will destroy sacred lands and many tombs. I’m not asking you to switch to all renewable resources because it just isn’t realistic. I just don’t think we need to repeat history. This isn’t even the only option. You could change the route of the pipeline to avoid the area or transport the oil by train, which would actually save money since the drillers would have a surplus of oil driving down the prices. I don’t expect you to save the world, I don’t even expect you save a life, but as my President, I expect and demand you do everything within your power to save the people living in your country.
P.S. When was the last time you heard of good things happening on ancient burial grounds?
Brady, Jeff. "N.D. Pipeline Protester: 'It's About Our Rights As Native People' | KQED." KQED Public Media. NPR, 12 Sept. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <http://www.kqed.org/news/story/2016/09/12/209075/nd_pipeline_protester_its_about_our_rights_as_native_people>.
"Gulf Disaster." Gulf Disaster. Center for Biological Diversity, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2016. <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/energy/dirty_energy_development/oil_and_gas/gulf_oil_spill/index.html>.
Nieves, Evelyn. "Opposing a Pipeline near Sacred Sioux Sites." Nytimes.com. Ny times, 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/opposing-a-pipeline-near-sioux-sacred-sites/>.
Schramm, Michael. "News 101: The Lowdown on the North Dakota Pipeline Controversy." USA Today. Gannett, 18 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <http://college.usatoday.com/2016/10/18/news-101-north-dakota-pipeline/>.