It's a gross understatement to note Native Americans haven't done well in the United States, historically speaking. They tend to end up on reservations, on the losing side of history and with the short end of the stick. It's a truth that's hard to ignore these days, but it isn't stopping some of the poorest tribes in the country -- the ones who own the Indian Country the Keystone XL Pipeline is slated to be laid on -- from preparing one last attempt to stop the project from snaking across their tribal lands.
The tribes are getting ready for a final nonviolent battle with "the black snake" as the $7 billion pipeline is known, according to a report. Tribal members in South Dakota have been undergoing resistance training to prepare them for this last fight. They are keeping the actual details of this planned nonviolent protest secret, but organizers are considering everything from vigils to civil disobedience to try and stop the 1,700-mile pipeline from being completed, according to a McClatchy report.
Down in our neck of the woods, the southern leg of the pipeline has been completed and running oil out to the Gulf Coast refineries for weeks, despite fierce opposition from landowners and environmentalists. Many of those against the project -- including Native Americans -- were hoping that the State Department's review would conclude the Keystone would be bad for the environment, thus forcing President Barack Obama to finally make a decision and come down against the project (he's been sidestepping the Keystone for years now). But the State Department recently ruled just the opposite (it won't make much of a difference to climate change), so those against it are pretty much out of luck.
As with any great lost cause -- and let's face it, considering the State Department's ruling and the simple fact that TransCanada will simply ship the Canadian Tar Sands oil by rail if the pipeline project remains uncompleted -- the Native Americans acknowledge that their odds of stopping the Keystone are only a little better than those of Gen. Custer when he found himself surrounded so many years ago by a whole lot of angry Native Americans. But they are still planning on pursuing civil disobedience or some form of protest.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Obama has yet to make a final decision on the pipeline, or to even announce when a final decision will be made. There are plenty of people in favor of the Keystone -- labor people and oil people and many who just want the darn thing decided already -- but who knows, it's a long shot but maybe some Native Americans protesting and camping along the still uncompleted section of the line will sway him to say no to the Keystone.