Climate Justice Meets Racism: This Moment at Standing Rock Was Decades in the Making
Attack dogs and waves of arrests by police in riot gear could look like isolated incidents of overreaction to the activism stemming from the Standing Rock reservation. But for the Lakota Sioux who live in these marginalized hillsides, the escalated militarization behind their battle against the Dakota Access pipeline is a situation decades in the making.
North Dakota is not the whitest state in America, but it’s arguably the most segregated. More than 60 percent of its largest minority population, Native Americans, lives on or near reservations. Native men are incarcerated or unemployed at some of the highest rates in the country. Poverty levels for families of the Standing Rock tribe are five times that of residents living in the capital city, Bismarck. In Cannon Ball, the heart of the tribal community, there are rows of weathered government homes, but no grocery store. Tucked behind a lonely highway, this is where mostly white farmers and ranchers shuttle to and from homesteads once belonging to the Sioux.