Native Americans Exploitation: national parks to pipelines

As I was browsing Instagram late one night in April, I found this photo (below). I have paid special attention to both the Dakota Access Pipeline protests as well as the crisis in Syria, but I had never thought of it in the way the photo below shows. But let’s back up a bit to the creation of National parks and the abuse of the Native Americans in that scenario.

Figure 1. Credit: Instagram

“Long before Yosemite became a popular tourist destination, the Ahwahneechee Indians who resided in the region knew it as “Ahwahnee,” or “gaping mouth-like place.””*1 Before it was turned into Yosemite, Ahwahnee was used by the Native Americans for fishing, hunting, homes, etc. It was a place that was being inhabited and loved by the Native Americans. Once the park was created, the Ahwahneechee Native Americans attempted to coexist with the tourists, but the government would not allow the them to reside there anymore because it was not public land. But the Ahwahneechee Native Americans had a strong connection and wanted to stay, and so “the Ahwahneechee returned, and worked humiliating jobs entertaining tourists as “Indian performers” to remain in their homeland. The National Park finally evicted the last of them and burned down their remaining homes in a fire-fighting drill in 1969.”*2

One of the most focused on issues around the environment currently is the Bakken Oil Pipeline, often referred to as the Dakota Access pipeline. Aside from all the social issues surrounding the pipeline, there are detrimental environmental ones that need to be looked at too. The EPA alludes to the fact that “extracting oil from the tar sands generates more greenhouse gases than extracting oil through more conventional methods and therefore contributes to a greater amount of greenhouse gas emissions over time.” Another point of tension with the Dakota Access pipeline is that it is being proposed to be built over two countries. Scientists in both the United States and Canada have differing views on the environmental effects that this pipeline would cause. Some scientists also want to slow down the process of building the pipeline because with it there would be an increased reliance on oil which would ultimately continue to cause long term environmental harm.*3

We need to come together as a country to understand the ways in which our world operates and how we can help it perform at its best. We can no longer sit around letting our world and our people suffer.

[note: some factual information is pulled from my US history paper from earlier this year. Full sources provided upon request.]

1.Julian Brave NoiseCat, "The Forgotten History Of ‘Violent Displacement’ That Helped Create The National Parks," http://www.huffingtonpost.com, last modified August 26, 2015, accessed April 29, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/national-park-service-anniversary-indigenous-people_us_55dcdd7ce4b0a40aa3ac9998.

2.NoiseCat, "The Forgotten."

3.Heather Brady, "4 Key Impacts of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines," http://news.nationalgeographic.com, last modified January 25, 2017, accessed March 1, 2017, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/impact-keystone-dakota-access-pipeline-environment-global-warming-oil-health/.

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Emma K
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Created with images by antje89 - "buffalo oklahoma bison"

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