The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is not the first example of environmental racism suffered by the Standing Rocking Nation. A recent op/ed piece in Native News Online.Net gives important history.
Missouri flood waters decimated Omaha, Nebraska in 1943; Congress responded by passing the Pick–Sloan Act, also known as the Flood Control Act of 1944, writes LaRae Meadows. It became part of a comprehensive plan covering other commercial and safety aspects of the river.
As the plan took shape over the next two decades, the burden for its success fell heavily on Native peoples. Part of the response included construction of the Oahe dam in South Dakota, a project that backed up the Missouri River for water storage and hydropower — flooding land in North and South Dakota. Meadows writes:
Lake Oahe Reservoir and hydroelectric dam was created when the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the fertile river lands and displaced a village on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 1960. A forest was deluged – lost to the water. Bison died. Burial grounds were submerged. Homes were lost.
Over 200,000 acres on the Standing Rock Reservation and the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota were flooded by the Oahe Dam alone. As of 2015, poverty remains a problem for the displaced populations in the Dakotas, who are still seeking compensation for the loss of the towns submerged under Lake Oahe, and the loss of their traditional ways of life.
Yet, writes Meadows: “The Army Corps of Engineers’ requirements under Pick-Sloan may be the last weapon the Water Protectors have to stop the drill and the pipeline.” Continue reading →