Recently, I have been very concerned and invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline issue. If you haven’t already seen the controversy in the news, or as of Sunday evening Dec. 4, heard that the Obama administration decided to not approve a key permit allowing the pipeline’s builder to compete the project, you are probably living under a rock. All right, I guess I can understand that maybe some of us are a bit more concerned with personal issues than the issues that affect others, but I’m here to say, let’s start. My investment started as most of my “save the rainforest” type concerns do. I saw a few posts here and there on social media and decided it was time to do some research of my own.
Sidebar: I follow actor, Mark Ruffalo on all forms of social media and the day I woke up and saw this video, my heart filled with joy for the thousands affected by this injustice, (in my opinion, something that should have been a non-issue from the get-go) but also because Mark Ruffalo is just the cutest.
Here’s a little excerpt from Mr. Ruffalo before the pipeline came to a stop. I think it really reflects how the protests truly went down.
“I did not witness violence when I visited there,” Ruffalo proclaimed in an interview with CNN. “The mantra of the place is, it’s not the police, it’s the pipeline that we’re protesting or protecting ourselves against. They spend basically the entire day doing prayers, chanting. I’ve never been around so peaceful a stand.”
I began thinking of how much joy the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was feeling at that moment. All of their hard-work, months of protesting and pain and suffering have come to an abrupt halt. Many reports I read depicted a disastrous fight between the police and the protestors themselves. Most of the research I did concluded with the consensus that brutal police tactics were being used without warrant. Things like overuse of crowd control strategies, rubber bullets, high-pitched sirens and large water cannons all the way to unlawful imprisonment of peaceful protestors circled around in my head. I began thinking about the amount of time it took for this issue to be considered ‘not okay.’
For five months those affected along with an outpour of celebrities have been protesting the 1,172-mile conduit, USA today reports.
The construction would have run from North Dakota to Illinois and it could have tainted the water supply of many people. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe was suing the U.S. Army Corps Engineers for trying to disturb their tribal burial sites. The tribe’s ancestral sites of great historic, religious and cultural value were on the line and the families and supporters did not back down.
To be frank, I also started to think about how this is not the first time an issue of tainted water has arisen in the last few years and it’s sickening to think about. Last year, I investigated the Flint water crisis for an assignment. This is another issue many people know nothing about, while those affected are STILL living in horror each and everyday.
In April of 2014, Flint, Michigan and their water crisis came into the media. We’ve all seen the Pure Michigan campaign and think of the state as having blue skies and clear water. All of a sudden, Michigan water did not seem so pure, in fact it was metallic and corrosive because of the connection to Flint. This began when the water source was changed from treated Detroit Water, sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River, to the Flint River, to which officials had failed to apply corrosion inhibitors; I double-checked my memory of these facts with the NY Times.
The drinking water had a series of problems that ended with lead contamination, creating a serious public health problem for residents, families and children. To this day, residents of Flint are still not able to drink their water or give their children baths safely due to the corroded lead pipes. Children are already being diagnosed with ADHD, malnourishment and memory loss due to the high lead levels their moms and dads had no idea was in their everyday drinking water.
I think these depictions show how unsettling the ways officials handled these crises are. It reminds me of how the officials of North Dakota handled the pipeline. For some reason I think there is a huge disconnect in our country between human rights and those who make the decisions but aren’t being directly affected by them. It honestly breaks my heart to think about these people and the many more around the country who deal with misfortunes, which are out of their hands day after day.
The Dakota Access Pipeline ended its long run of controversy and protesting on a good note. The Flint water crisis did not. In fact, people are struggling with finding clean water still. But when’s the last time you heard about Flint in the media? It isn’t the latest anymore, and it isn’t the worst we’ve heard. It has fallen to the way side and become old news.
If you didn’t have clean water to drink in the middle of the night or to brush your teeth with, of no fault of your own may I add, would you be upset it wasn’t front-page news? Water is something I use again and again throughout the course of a day. I shower with it, drink it, cook with it and fill bowls and bowls of it for my dogs. If I were unable to flip my faucet on, I would probably go nuts.
I’m sad to admit I am fully aware of the issues going on involving water, and it’s not something that even crosses my mind once a day.
I know I’ve lit a fire in myself to start thinking about what I can do, I hope I’ve ignited one in you.