by Chloe Marie Czabaranek
From Standing Rock to Mauna Kea, both indigenous groups of Native Americans (Standing Rock Sioux) and Native Hawaiians stand against pressures from oil companies and scientists respectively. Although ignoring and abusing native rights and traditions presents nothing new in U.S. history, today’s media coverage gives the people the ability to witness the rights being stripped away.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe currently seeks a halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) having filed a motion for summary judgment on remand with the U.S. District court in Washington D.C. ( https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/SRST-Remand-brief.pdf ). The Tribe alleges violations of federal environmental laws by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their failure to meaningfully respond to the Tribe’s concerns throughout the remand process. This failure included shutting out the Tribe in the process of the remand, refusing to share technical information, and ignoring extensive technical input from the Tribe in regard to oil spill risks, etc.
Over 3,500 miles away, but with the same lack of regard to native rights are Native Hawaiians fighting against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on their most sacred mountain, Mauna Kea. In late August, a judge dismissed a lawsuit which sought an injunction to block the TMT construction because of the project not posting a $1.4 billion security bond as required by the 1977 Mauna Kea Plan. ( https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2019/08/24/hawaii-news/judge-tosses-tmt-lawsuit/ ). The Hawaii Supreme Court affirmed the state’s issuance of a Conservation District Use permit to TMT in 2018. This lawsuit served as the last legal challenge against TMT construction itself, leaving only the lawsuits regarding use of law enforcement.
Everyone understands who suffers from environmental racism when big companies and industries benefit from their literal plowing over sacred lands. While most people turn a blind eye while the water protectors and protectors of Mauna Kea, mostly elderly indigenous people, get attacked by law enforcement and forced to leave the sited, it is no wonder why U.S. history continuously repeats itself.
One of the biggest ways to support these causes include researching, supporting, observing, and in general, properly recognizing the I ndigenous voices and groups. From afar, you can donate money to the Standing Rock tribe at: https://www.standingrock.org. The different ways to support Mauna Kea include telling partners to pull out of the TMT project on social media, donate to organizations and land protectors on the ground, and attend solidarity events.