Categories:  'Environmental Justice'   'Racial Inequality'  

Land-Based Protests and Protestors Treated Differently in Oregon and Standing Rock

In October of 2016, on the same day the right-wing occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon were acquitted of crimes related to [...]

In October of 2016, on the same day the right-wing occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon were acquitted of crimes related to their armed takeover of the refuge, police forces and private security personnel from around the Midwest attacked and arrested 150 water protectors at the #NoDAPL protest camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their Native and non-Native allies from around the world founded small protest camps in the spring of 2016 to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (nicknamed DAPL, pronounced “dapple”) under a lake just one mile away from the reservation, and across sacred land that had never been ceded to the US government by any treaty.

The occupiers at Malheur, in a remote part of Oregon, initially took over the wildlife refuge to protest “the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires on public land. … [T]he 41-day occupation … grew into demands for the U.S. government to turn over public lands to local control.” None of the initial group of occupiers resided in Oregon.

While some observers find resemblances between the goals of the two movements, Native studies scholars point out the key difference between Malheur and Standing Rock – that “the response to the Standing Rock protest has been racially charged since the beginning.” Professor James Riding In explains, “history has placed the Indian peoples as expendable. And I think that attitude still exists in some circumstances.”

Around the world, indigenous peoples are taking the lead in the fight for environmental justice, and pointing out how the supposed expendability of the land is often linked to the supposed expendability of the people who live on it.

 

Image: Tires burn on the front line of the oil-pipeline protest on Highway 1806 in North Dakota on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Hundreds of Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and their supporters have held a months-long campaign to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Credit: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times

Articles

Publication Date: 29/10/2016
Source: The Seattle Times
Author: Gillian Flaccus