“Taking from the Land”: Stealing Oil from Native American Lands

Not to sound diaryish, but recently I read an article on CNN.com about how oil-drilling companies are currently working with the tribal government in Fort Berthold, North Dakota, in order to produce an oil-drilling arrangement. To behonest, I was surprised with how angry I felt. Being an AP U.S. History student, I’m fairly familiar with all the hardship presidents like Andrew Jackson placed on the Native Americans. This action is a total outrage to me. These land reservations are some of last pieces of culture we as Americans possess of our Native American history, and drilling oil on this land could be environmentally fatal. Why on earth would the tribal government possibly agree to this? Don’t they care about their own culture and history? Don’t they care about the land their grandfathers grew up on? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions can be summed up like this: money is powerful.

According to photojournalist Jeff Lautenberger, the tribal government of Fort Berthold, North Dakota, agreed to devising oil-drilling plans on their land because the prospects of revenue were positive. This immediately brings a question into my mind. Aren’t most Native American cultures traditionally known for their disdain of materialism? And, beyond that, isn’t the desire of money (in other words, greed) a form of materialism? This just goes to show how powerful money is, when it can determine the actions of entire cultures, even making them go against tradition and time. Also, supposedly the tribal government is allegedly planning on working on a way to bring in more oil-drilling companies in the near future.

I’d like to make a connection. Everyone knows about the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast a couple years ago, right? The environmental destruction there was catastrophic, with thousands of animals dying, and miles and miles of shoreline being corrupted.

http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2010/riedel_oil_birds/oil_spill_birds_01.jpgBP oil spill 2010

When this occurred, the media went ablaze, speaking about it for days on end. Among many of the reasons asserted for the BP spill’s horribleness was its environmental destruction. True, The BP oil spill happened in a marine environment, which allowed the oil to spread over vast areas. Still, there is plenty of cause to worry for the land in Berthold, North Dakota, as well. In case you didn’t know, North Dakota is very cold, especially in the winter, and machines (such as oil drilling equipment) tend to malfunction when they get cold. And malfunctions, as seen in the BP oil spill, lead to disaster.


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