For months, the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of others have opposed a pipeline that many believe risks contaminating the tribe’s water supply. What have they faced in response? Attack dogs. Rubber bullets. Tear gas. Water hoses in freezing temperatures. A 21-year-old graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts had her arm nearly destroyed. And last week, the governor directed state and local agencies to refuse emergency assistance as a way to expel the tribe and their "water protector" supporters.
The Standing Rock Sioux are not animals to be corralled – they are human beings. Good, passionate human beings who have stood together in the middle of a North Dakota blizzard this past week, and stood together for many weeks before, to fight for what they believe in. They should be treated with respect and basic human decency.
The construction workers and laborers at Standing Rock are also human beings – and they weren’t the ones to decide where to build this pipeline. They are good, hard-working people who are just trying to do their jobs. They also should be treated with respect and basic human decency.
The fact is, we need a country where all of our children can safely drink the water and where we move away from dirty fossil fuels and build more sustainable green energy solutions. We also need good jobs and respect for our workers. All of these things are true. It is both/and, not either/or.
Time is running out. Patience has worn thin. Nerves have frayed. Every day brings a chance for escalation of the violence and more injuries. The Obama Administration should step up now and work with the Army Corps of Engineers to find an alternate route to this pipeline and ways to address the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux. Yes, there may be more work to do and it may take more money, but we need to act in good faith, deescalate this violence, and find a solution."