The North Dakota Pipeline is an ongoing $3.7 billion project that could create 8,000-12,000 construction jobs. By carrying roughly 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the fields of North Dakota to Illinois, it has the potential to generate $156 million in sales and income taxes for local and state governments.
Concern has arisen over the project’s potential endangerment to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is located just south of the pipeline’s projected path, The pipeline puts their sacred sites in danger of being destroyed and their health and environment at serious risk.
The motion made by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe a day after the project began, which restricts any heinous construction being made near the reservation, was not heavily consulted by the US Army Corps of Engineers before approving the project in the first place.
The lack of public engagement has many Native Americans outraged and protests continue near the encampment where bulldozers are slowly making their way through the reservation.
The environment of the reservations and health of the Native Americans are not new concerns. About 22 percent of our country’s Native Americans reside on tribal lands. While 55 percent of these Native Americans rely on the Indian Health services for medical aid, only a portion of their needs are being met.
This has contributed to a widespread epidemic of chronic diseases like diabetes, tuberculosis, heart disease and cancer among the Native American population. Because of this, the life expectancy of Natives still trails the average American life expectancy by almost 5 years.
These health problems are not something to be taken lightly, and should be thoroughly looked at when considering a large construction project.
The destruction of sacred land due to the transportation of oil has unified many native tribes, one of them being the Swinomish Tribe in La Conner, Wash.; the transportation of Bakken crude oils caused the tribe to sue BNSF Railway company from further harming their land. The Quinault Indian Nation, primarly located in Taholah, Wash., also challenged oil terminal projects created by Port of Grays Harbor earlier this year.
The idea that land is a living being is at the center of many Native American belief systems. While the creation of jobs and flowing capital might sound nice, the action of preserving health and land among Native American tribes cannot be overlooked.
Reach writer Nissreen Taha at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @nissreentahaha