From Standing Rock to Palestine to Ireland: We Are Water
With construction temporarily blocked on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Lakota Sioux members and a growing number of other, newly united tribes continue a stalwart protest against the proposed pipeline, which would run from oil fields in North Dakota and across South Dakota and Iowa, passing near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and threatening both its ancient burial sites and its resources. Residents of a community that has long "run on empty," with high rates of poverty, segregation and incarceration, the Lakota insist they are fighting not just against oil, but for their right to water, sacred land and basic humanity - that they are protectors, not protesters. And as their protests swell - despite little coverage from mainstream media - it's instructive to see vital connections increasingly being made among people who share a common history.
The Standing Rock protest has resonated because it represents not just one fight, but many. It has drawn parallels as a symbol of America's longstanding betrayal of Native American lands and sovereign rights; of the inevitable collision of racism and climate change poised to hit poor communities hardest; of other historic struggles of indigenous peoples against invasion, oppression and colonization. Thus have the Sioux of Standing Rock been met with solidarity from a broad array of sources - from other historically rival tribes, Native Americans in Utah and Washington arguing that, "An offense against any one of our rivers or our forests is an offense against all of us,” Bernie Sanders and other progressives arguing that nature itself is at stake, advocates of Palestinian rights connecting their respective struggles against "a nation of masters," and, this weekend, Irish protesters against the latest austerity outrage - water charges. Because in a world that keeps getting smaller, we have been here before.