Why Latinxs Should Support Native Efforts Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

For months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been battling against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a proposed oil pipeline that would run near their reservation. The construction, put forward by Dakota Access, disregards “tribal sovereignty,” as the U.S. government, which is supposed to have a "government-to-government" relationship with native tribes, didn't consult with Standing Rock Sioux as it should have under federal law. Even more, if built, the pipeline could endanger the tribe's water supplies and sacred sites.

Currently, the DC Circuit Court is hearing the tribe's legal challenge to the pipeline. In the meantime, the Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to continue its erection, a move supported by a federal judge, who on Sept. 9 denied a request by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt on construction. However, this ruling was moments later overridden by the Obama administration, which ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to pause the operation.

Native groups and environmentalists have joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight. Ahead, here’s why Latinxs should, too.

MORE: How Indigenous Women Lead the Fight Against Climate Change in Latin America

1. Solidarity

Solidarity: Our fight for racial and immigrant justice is tied to other communities of color, including our native familia, who, like our ancestors, had their land stripped from them and remain resisting colonialism and white supremacy. Solidarity with native nations, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is essential.

2. Human Rights

Human Rights: The proposed pipeline would cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the tribe’s main source of drinking water. This means that any leak or oil spill would contaminate the lake, leaving the reservation without necessary water, making this, at its core, a human rights issue.

3. Violence

Violence: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, resisting injustice, is being attacked. Security guards working for the Dakota Access Pipeline have assaulted the Native group with dogs and pepper spray. Even more, the North Dakota Highway Patrol has assembled a concrete barricade that is preventing access to the reservation. The police presence and barrier have prompted Amnesty International to call for the removal of the roadblock.

4. Relatability

Relatability: This is a struggle that is familiar to us. The commercial interests of Latin American states have taken precedence over its indigenous people, leading to damages to ancestral lands and unlivable tierras that displace communities in the name of development. 

5. Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice: This is an environmental justice issue, a matter that, while primarily impacting the most marginalized – native, racialized, low-income and women – affects us all.