The Relationship Between Coal and Oil with Native Americans in the United States
My name is Lauren Maffia and I am an Environmental Science major at NJIT. I have always been intrigued by my Native American heritage, although it has been stretched over many generations. My family is descended from the Mahock, or Manahoac, Tribe. When I heard about the injustices the Sioux Tribes were facing in regard to the Dakota Access Pipeline, my heart felt heavy. I couldn’t understand how the government would allow sacred land to be violated when there have been treaties put in place to protect that land. I then learned of another tribe, the Crow Tribe, who welcome the coal industry on their land. I realized that the government has pushed these tribes to where they need to choose between their livelihood or their environment, two very important factors for Native Americans. This is what compelled me to learn more about the circumstances and understand why this was happening.
Project Site Description:
Approximately 30% of the total amount of coal and oil in the United States rests in or near Indian Reservations. In Montana, the Crow Tribe depends on the coal industry for their survival, with most of their budget coming from the Absaloka Mine. On the contrary, The Sioux Tribe of North/South Dakota oppose of an oil pipeline that was built parallel to their land, and across their main source of drinking water, the Dakota Access Pipeline. Two tribes carry very different views of the coal and oil industry, with one welcoming it to maintain their livelihood, and the other strongly opposing it to save their environment. After the coal industry was shut down, the workers were not given alternative employment opportunities. Why didn’t the government convert these industries to clean energy to save the peoples’ jobs? This is a conflict between most Native American Tribes in the U.S.; save and care for their environment, or put food on the table for their children? This is the internal battle Native Americans face as a result of oppression and confiscation of their resources by the U.S. government.
Keywords: Energy, Pollution, Indigenous, (Oil, Coal)