Title: The Relationship Between Coal and Oil with Native Americans in the United States
By: Lauren Maffia
Primary Source List:
Source 1: Transcript of Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)
Location: Our Documents Initiative
This is a transcript of the treaty between the Sioux and the United States in 1868. This will help me determine where the U.S. is violating treaty law.
Source 2: The New York Times Article “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why”
Location: The New York Times
This article not only details the events that occurred at the protests at Standing Rock, but also looks at it from other perspectives, including farmers.
Source 3: Report and Statement from Chief Edward John, Expert Member of the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: “Firsthand observations of conditions surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline”
Location: United Nations
This report details statements from the voices of those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as getting statements from the officers on duty who actively arrested protestors and guarded the pipeline’s construction.
Primary Source Analysis:
The Treaty of Fort Laramie is a peace agreement between the tribes of the Sioux Nation and the United States of America. In the treaty, it also goes over which parts of the land solely belong to the Sioux and that in order for anyone to enter the territory, they must first get permission from the tribe. The articles in this treaty give the Sioux Tribe the rights to their land. This source suggests that the land was a large part of the Native Americans’ lifestyle and incredibly important to them.
In article II of this treaty it states, “The United States agrees that the following district of country… and in addition thereto, all existing reservations of the east back of said river, shall be and the same is, set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named…” This quote lists the exact areas that belong to the Sioux Tribe that belong to them, and that this land will remain undisturbed by anyone other than the Natives of that land. Article VI states “If any individual belonging to said tribes of Indians… shall desire to commence farming, he shall have the privilege to select… a tract of land within said reservation…” This gives the Native Americans the right to choose their own piece of land for agriculture, only needing to receive a certificate to grow on that land. The fact that this statement is in this treaty proves that agriculture is a large part of their society. Many other articles state protocols for agricultural purposes as well. Article XVI explains how people need to receive permission by the tribe in order to pass or live on the land, as well as any military positions located on that land will be abandoned. “…and also stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians, first had and obtained, to pass through the same; and it is further agreed by the United States… the military posts now established in the territory in this article named shall be abandoned…”
This article written by Jack Healy goes over a short timeline of events from the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. It also goes over others who are in opposition of the pipeline and leaves the reader with the question, are pipelines are really as safe as corporations say they are? This article suggests that pipelines are more dangerous than they appear, given the large boom of them in the past century.
In his article, Healy mentions the various others who are in agreement with the Sioux Tribes. Veterans came out to protect the protestors as police began to use violent tactics against them. Healy mentions that various farmers have taken their cases to court to prevent the pipeline from crossing their farmland, however many have given approval of it. At this point in time, 2016, it was unclear if the pipeline was going to be finished. Healy also mentions other pipelines in the U.S. such as the Keystone XL and the Sandpiper who also received major backlash from residents and environmental groups. Two pipelines, one by Tesoro Logistics and another from Enbridge Energy have leaked over 800,000 gallons of oil into the lands and rivers near them, costing billions of dollars in cleanup. It is clear that pipelines have an uncertainty about them, the longer they are in the soil, the more at risk they are of leaking a great amount of oil.
Chief Edward John, who works for the United Nations focusing on Indigenous Issues went to the site of the protests at Standing Rock. He obtained testimonials from protestors as well as Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault. John also got statements from senior law enforcement officials on site. John was able to obtain multiple viewpoints at the site of the protests and as someone who is an expert in this field, gave his opinion and recommendations for the U.S. government to take action. It is clear that at this point in time, police brutality was still in full force. Reading of the hardships and injustice the protestors faced for protesting peacefully proved that.
John compared his experiences on site to a “war-zone.” He accounts “on the bridge near the south camp I witnessed burned out vehicles stationed to prevent passage either
way. Large concrete blocks have also been laid across the bridge beyond the destroyed vehicles. Nearby I met officers in body armor, fully armed and in full camouflage gear.” One account from an “elder woman stated that she was holding her sacred bundle skyward in prayer and was suddenly forced to the ground, crying out as she watched her sacred bundle fall to the ground.” Sacred bundles are similar to bibles of the church to Native Americans. This was as a result of a clash between horse riders and the police officers on duty, where many were arrested. After being arrested, on multiple accounts, they were not informed on the reason they were being arrested and faced being “marked with numbers on their arms”, similar “to the branding of Jewish persons” during the holocaust. The law enforcement officers, however, deny that any form of injustice was placed upon those arrested, and instead “treated with respect, fed, clothed and their medical needs attended to.”