A Sacred Bond:Dakota Access Pipeline

Posted on December 12, 2016 by




The Dakota Access pipeline and the election have all but filled every news cycle for the past year. Events such as these often lead to strong convictions and vantage points of all angles. One thing remains true throughout the process of debating any conflict; “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” This quote by Margaret Heffernan embodies the ongoing struggle between both sides of the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy.

In the picture above the word sacred appears, sacred can mean a number of things to a magnitude of people. To some sacred may be as simple college football on Saturdays or Church on Sundays. This class has forced me to expand upon my understanding of what this word may mean to different cultures. When I began viewing topics and ideology outside of my own narrow corridor of how to view the world and the things that I hold true, that is when I was finally able to understand the scarcity that the protesters cling to. In this essay I wish to explore how the media pertains to this topic of scarcity with the Native Americans, while also exploiting the short comings of their coverage. I will also commentate a narrative between the two sides and how the media has produced that message.

I recently just completed a lengthy classical argument over The Dakota Access Pipeline and its potential economical advantages. I explored and exploited many debate points thought out the paper, including historical conflicts, environmental reports, and economical reports among many others. I must admit that I struggled with idea of there even being protests over land that they no longer historically owned. As I sit here writing this post the monks of Tibet come to mind, and how some of them are willing to ignite themselves in flames in protest of the Chinese government. Radical Jihadist Muslims also come to mind, while most people throughout the world would agree that their methods are not “holy,” yet that continue. Why is that? I believe that it has something to do with this unbelievable amount of conviction and true faith. To have faith in your convictions and to stay true to them is something to truly admire, even if we do not personally agree with their actions or beliefs. To an extent this rings true with the Native American protester groups, they have picked an uphill battle from the get-go to protect the lands of their ancestors for generations to come.



The media and its coverage over the conflict has written many pieces in support of the protestors. If you were to google “DAPL Sacred Burial Sites” hundreds of news excerpts would appear on your screen. However, this does not mean that the coverage has been good. When covering the “sacred” and the weight that the word holds, most merely use it as an attention grabber, never really delving into all of its intricate details and history. CNN during its coverage of the events at standing rock cover the pipelines using water cannons against the protester much more often than coverage of the burial grounds. I believe this to be an error in the use of there resources. They only paint half of the picture with the current methods of coverage. Many other outlets continue on this same trend, including the Washington Post, The Times, The New York Times, among many others. It is almost as if they are trying to change the conversation. Many of these “heavyweight” news outlets try way to often to make Energy Transfer Partners look like the bad guys, presenting only the facts in which allow them optimal coverage towards the outcome in which they wish to see; a veto of the pipeline completely. So while they “side” with the protesters, do they ever completely understand what exactly it is that they are fighting for? They often times will scratch the surface of environmental effects and issues, but if we were to truly study the Native American Tribes and their history it would become abundantly clear that this is what they are fighting for! Nature is a way of life for the Tribes. The ecosystems in which they live in are sacred to their histories, their present, and for generations to come.

On the contrary Energy Transfer Partners has remained at bay throughout the whole conflict rarely making press releases or requesting interviews to defend themselves from the news outlets on “attack.” The reason for this being that they have nothing to truly gain from attempts of grabbing the “limelight” so to speak. They have gone beyond and above what was required for them to build the pipeline as far as studies, reports, meetings, and approvals. The media does do a good job of reporting that the company does own the land in which they have been building upon. With all of the legality not being in contest it simply boils down to this term “sacred” and if that means something to our society.

The media has done its job in kick starting the conversation, but I do not believe that it has kickstarted the right conversation. I believe that they should have pointed readers in the direction of traditions, history, and preservation; instead they picked a fight with a company who was not playing their game. This will lead to lawsuits between our government and Energy Transfer Partners over their flip-foppish approval status on the pipeline. I believe that if the media would have covered historical pride and brought some admiration to the conversation of the tribes the pipeline narrative would have much less of a divide then it does today.


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Kim, Julianne Catherine. “Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Threatens Native American Culture.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://highschool.latimes.com/troy-high-school/dakota-access-oil-pipeline-threatens-native-american-culture/&gt;.

Matthews, Susan, and Christian Hansen. “Standing Rock Was Never Just About the Pipeline.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 11 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/cover_story/2016/12/standing_rock_epitomizes_the_conflict_between_short_term_and_long_term_priorities.html&gt;.

Anderson, Terry L., and Shawn Regan. “No Wonder the Standing Rock Sioux Opposed the Pipeline.” National Review. N.p., 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442968/standing-rock-dakota-access-victory-tribes-deserve-more-control-federal-regulations&gt;.

Gass, Henry. “Behind Dakota Pipeline Protest: Native American Religious Revival.” The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Inhabit/2016/1101/Behind-Dakota-pipeline-protest-Native-American-religious-revival&gt;.

Knight, Nika. “Court Rejects Dakota Access Injunction, But Standing Rock Sioux Vow ‘This Is Not The End'” Common Dreams. N.p., 9 Oct. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/10/court-rejects-dakota-access-injunction-standing-rock-sioux-vow-not-end&gt;.

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